Mermaids in St John’s: ‘Human Aquarium’ Review

A watery underworld has popped up in St John’s shopping center for two weeks this February and I went along to check it out. ‘Human Aquarium’ is a free pop up exhibition all about waste, recycling and the effect humans have on the ocean. Throughout the weeks they are holding family friendly arts and crafts workshops as well as film workshops and talks with sustainable companies. The exhibit aims to draw your attention to plastic waste and the damage we are causing to the ocean with the centerpiece being a giant octopus made from just one person’s plastic waste over six months.

The photo series along the walls asks what life in captivity is really like and what effect our recycling choices have. Tom Martin’s photos replace marine life with merpeople, trapped in nets and washed up on the beach,  a clever concept prompting you to think about how we treat animals, and whether you would want to live your life in a tank. The photo (above) is captioned: ‘Merfolk are transported from across the world to be trained in the UK’. With the recent increased focus on sustainability and movements around the university campus and the country towards a zero-waste society, the exhibit is extremely topical, and the organisers behind the pop-up say that this is only the beginning of their plan, aiming to hold more events later on in 2019/20.

The space itself is designed to take you on a trip under the sea, decorated with blue and green nets, satin seaweed draped from the ceiling and plastic jellyfish are bobbing about. The design is fun and creative and would be a hit with smaller children; the exhibition is small and will only take 15 minuets to browse at the most, but it is an inventive idea and a fun way to break up your day, something to do on your lunch break with interactive opportunities for children and adults. Pop along if you’re looking for something a bit different, you will leave knowing a bit more about sustainability and if nothing else it’s a great place to take some funky pictures.

Visit to find out how you can get involved in protecting our oceans

Georgie Burgess