I like to have a clear plan before I begin a project as I ‘think art’ as well as make it. Those thoughts manifest themselves into a sort of plan that inevitably gets totally changed as i develop the work. But we all need a starting point. Also because I am collaborating with other artists I wanted to give them an overview of where I am starting from.
So here is my rather long outline/train of thoughts.
Medgel- Portrait of a Witch
The key inspiration/explorations of this project;
- Who is Medgel? What factors make Medgel become known as a witch? Consider and create an alternative narrative.
- What happens when intolerance and fear takes over a community/society?
- To find a way of getting non- commercial, pertinent and challenging art seen by people who wouldn’t usually access it.
- To develop a project that binds AML’s art and folklore interests. To explore AML relating to Medgel.
- To collaborate with other artists.
- To develop AML’s art practice.
- Linking Town & Country- Looking at shared issues in different landscapes.
15 pieces of artwork will be made and scattered throughout Shropshire and Wolverhampton which will be brought together for 6 performances.
The number 15 is significant because this is the number of stones that make up Medgel’s prison.
Through visual art and story we will develop a portrait of Medgel the witch.
The Evidence Pieces – A Landscape of Fear
1-Holly & Hawthorne -Print/painting -A village surrounded by Holly and Hawthorne- significance that plants known to ward off witches are planted around old Rorrington/Hill Fort.
2-The Holy Well/Pin Well- Wax Sculpture-Pins have been found in the Holy Well Brook- this was a sure sign of a fear of witches- casting pins/nails/pointy objects into running water protected villagers and their water supply from enchantment.
3- The Bellarmine/Greybeard/witch pot –Ceramic- Such pots found buried under the threshold of a house was a sure sign of someone resisting bewitchment. They were used to redirect back at the witch who cast them.
4- The Shoe- Soft Sculpture- Hidden in a cavity in the chimney breast a shoe prevented witches from entering through the chimney and thereby protected the household.
The Relating Pieces – A landscape of Isolation
- The Trackway- print/painting- recording the path that both AML & Medgel tread – physically isolated, challenging and harsh as well as beautiful.
- Shadowlands- print/painting – Shadows represent ourselves in another form/dimension, we are present and yet we are not, can our shadows live separately to us. Exploring how shadows cast on this landscape.
- Medgel’s home-Painting/Photograph/collage- About finding an isolated long abandoned cottage
- The Burial site – Painting/Photograph/ collage –On finding her bones (skeleton of a Hare)
The Unfolding Story Pieces – A landscape of gossip and accusation
- The Hare Lip- Painting – Witches were known to ‘shape shift’ and the crossing of a pregnant woman’s path by a hare would result in birth defect.
- Familiars – The keeping of animals was cause enough to see Medgel as a witch.
- The Fey Cow – Painting – The villagers faced famine but for the kindness of the fey folk in giving a fairy cow they would have starved.
- The Riddle- Painting/Print – Medgel milked the cow dry because she milked it into a riddle (sieve) and so it could never fill and so the Cow disappeared.
The Punishment Pieces – A landscape of persecution
- The Scold – Painting- Medgel was given no voice her guilt was cast by others and she was unable to refute it.
- The Fold- Painting- The Fold is a place of sanctuary to hold sheep safely but the Stone Circle became Medgel’s prison for evermore.
- Nine Million –Painting/Print- The number of women killed in the name of witchcraft.
Witch Hunt is a term we commonly use today to suggest unfair/unfounded rounding on somebody however in reality the witch hunt of Europe’s past resulted in nine million (mainly women) being tortured and killed with little cause or reason and with the backing of state religion. Laws were created to enable the bringing to trial of innocent people who were rounded on by their fellow community and most often by women neighbours. Men, authority, then took control of the proceedings and following the guidance laid out in the ‘Malleus Mallificorum’ and King James ‘Demonology’ they cruelly interrogated, tried and put to death those who were insignificant, different and seen as ‘other’.
In art ‘Witch’ is often portrayed through the gaze of the man and so, seductive and sexy or as old menopausal hag. Stereotypical pointy hat, broomstick and cat often feature. The Witch Bitch is very much the domain of the feminist art response where Witch has purportedly been reclaimed as a symbol of power. This often manifests itself in reference to magic, Wiccan practices and association with other magic such as voodoo. Spell casting, charms and poppets are used as symbols of power.
Exploring through art what happens when fear and intolerance takes over our community/society.