Friday, July 31, 2015

Bronze Age Fairies from Minoan Crete?

I've got an interview in the current issue of the Fairy Investigation Society Newsletter 2, New Series, July 2015, pages 11‒19, on the question of whether hovering human figures in the glyptic art of Late Bronze Age Crete could be considered fairies. Initially to access the interview you had to be a member of the Fairy Investigation Society but now I've uploaded it on here.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Witches and Witchlore: the Illustrations of Jos A. Smith

Do you remember (and love) Erica Jong's book Witches? Then you will probably want to visit the current exhibition showcasing the work of the book's illustrator, Jos A. Smith, at the Museum of Witchcraft

Jos A. Smith (b. 1936) has had a long and varied career as an artist and illustrator, most notably for Time, Newsweek and The New York Times. He has taught at New York’s prestigious Pratt Institute and has had over twenty solo exhibitions.

This exhibition at the Museum ofWitchcraft and Magic is the latest, showcasing his original artwork for the seminal [or perhaps we should say ovaric?] book, Witches by Erica Jong, first published in 1981. The exhibition is curated by Simon Costin, Director of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic and the Museum of British Folklore. It opened on May 16th 2015 and runs until November 2015. 

Jong's book, Witches, book charts the persecution of witches, through poetry, history and stories and also functions as a grimoire, or handbook for contemporary practitioners. Using pen, ink and watercolour, Jos A. Smith’s illustrations vividly explore all aspects of the various guises of the witch: from seductress to crone; perpetrator to victim. His skilled draughtsmanship reflects witchcraft’s connection to nature, with figures seamlessly blending into other forms, to create an otherworldly, eerie presence on the page. These images also express Jos’s own connection to nature through his study of esoteric religion and meditation, as he states: “I am fascinated by the lore that accrues to natural things...”

Displayed together for the first time at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, this is the inaugural exhibition in a planned new series of temporary shows to be hosted at the museum from Spring 2015. The newly refurbished temporary exhibition space will allow the museum to examine its rich and varied objects in more depth and will also feature exciting collaborations with artists and researchers. People will have something new to see at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic every time they visit, alongside the fascinating permanent collection.

Selected images are available for sale from the Museum's online shop as limited edition prints and high quality art cards. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is open until 31st October 2015. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10.30-6pm, Sunday 11.30-6pm Admisssion £5/£4. [Exhibition text by Desdemona McCannon from Manchester School of Art. Press release edited by Caroline Tully.] 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mummymania Exhibition

"You will live again, you will live forever. Behold, you are young again forever." 

I am guest curating an exhibition in conjunction with Dr Andrew Jamieson, curator of the Classics and Archaeology Gallery at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, called Mummymania. It will run from the 6th of October 2015 until April 2016. This exhibition is centred on the Egyptian mummy and its pivotal role in regard to the themes of life, death, the afterlife, eternity and resurrection.  It will have three components: Egyptian concepts of the afterlife; mummies and medicine; and the reception of the mummy. Beginning with the mummy in its original ancient Egyptian context, the exhibition will have a section displaying ancient Egyptian material culture and literature concerning death and the afterlife. Another component of the exhibition will focus on the use of mummies in medicine, beginning in the early twentieth century with the public unwrapping of mummies in England, and the medical testing and analysis of mummy tissue and use of CAT scanning of mummies in order to understand ancient disease. The third aspect of the exhibition will cover the modern reception of the mummy in popular culture, including the use of ancient Egyptian architectural styles in nineteenth and twentieth century cemetery architecture, the use of the mummy in the design of objects such as souvenirs, cosmetic packaging and children’s objects, and the mummy as sinister film star, particularly in regard to the idea of the mummy’s curse in twentieth and twenty-first century horror films.