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Cartoon of Beatrice Kerr as a mermaid

Date: c 1910
Overall: 170 x 177 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program by the Williams family, descendants of Beatrice Kerr
Object Name: Newspaper clipping
Object No: ANMS1029[071]

User Terms

    A newspaper clipping showing an illustration of a mermaid, with 'The Channel' written across her body, and arms crossed. There are marine animals surrounding her under the water, and fishing lines and hooks above her. Printed above the illustration is 'The Mermaid and the Angl [er?]', and underneath reads 'Mermaid: It's no use, gentleman. I may nibble but I won't bite'.

    The fishing lines on either side of the mermaid show the names of swimmers who had recently attempted to swim the English Channel : Montague Holbein, Annette Kellerman, Thomas Burgess, Horace Mew and J. Weidman.
    SignificanceKerr’s career, though short, left an extensive legacy. Her performances, which took place across Australia, South Africa and the UK, challenged traditional gender stereotypes and educated large audiences about the sporting and physical capabilities of women. Her demonstrations on swimming techniques are credited with inspiring other women to learn and to embrace physical fitness and water safety, particularly in her homeland where Australians were taking to beaches and pools in greater numbers every year.
    HistoryBeatrice Maude Kerr (1887-1971) was a champion Australian swimmer, diver and vaudeville entertainer. Kerr was raised in Melbourne where she was taught to swim by her mother. In 1905 Kerr began competitive swimming and won titles at the Victorian Championships and Australasian Amateur Championship. In the same year she completed 366 swimming and diving performances during a twenty week season at the Princes Court pleasure gardens in Melbourne.
    During a six week tour to Adelaide, Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie and Perth in 1906, Kerr won five open championships, entered forty-three races and won forty-three prizes. Like her rival Annette Kellerman and contemporaries Fanny Durak and Mina Wylie, Kerr was an exemplar of the fit modern woman in the early 1900s at a time when physical culture movement was just being established. Although Kerr did not hold world records or swim at the Olympics like Fanny Durak and Mina Wylie, she was highly regarded as a swimmer and entertainer and inspired many young women to take to the water.
    Kerr arrived in London in 1906 and stayed in Britain until 1911 performing in public baths in the summer and at theatres and other venues during the winter months. She wore sleeveless men's racing suits for racing, performance and publicity photographs. Kerr toured Britain until 1911 and then returned to Australia to marry and retire from professional swimming.
    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Beatrice Kerr collection

    Assigned title: Cartoon of Beatrice Kerr as a mermaid

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