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Witches are the focus of Oriel Gallery exhibition

 
Created on 08/10/2018 @ 11:34
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The British Isles have a particularly strong relationship to magic and the occult, with the chants of witchcraft echoing throughout their history.

 

The Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown is hosting ‘Waking the Witch’, a touring group exhibition by Legion Projects which looks at the importance of craft, ritual and land on the practice of the ever-shifting figure of the witch, until 7 November.

       

Traditional witchcraft has a strong connection to the earth, with an intimate knowledge of herbs, plants and the elements as well as the human body. As gatekeepers to altered consciousness and as communicators with non-human beings, witches have been both feared and sought out for their dealings with the unknown.

 

Historically persecuted as an outsider, the witch has been taken on by artists as a challenging force to prevailing norms and as a symbol of dissidence.

 

Offering interpretations of both contemporary and historical witchcraft, the exhibition aims to reclaim the multifarious voices the witch has been given over the course of history, facilitating a speculative search for lost knowledge.

 

Looking to symbols, tools and the coven as a space for focusing collective intent, the artists in this exhibition explore the path of the witch as one that inspires a deep communion with our natural surroundings, a connection to our intuitive powers and as a force for harnessing collective energy.

 

The tour will feature new artist commissions which will develop as the project evolves and grows. Hosted online alongside the exhibition, a map of the UK, designed by Ben Jeans Houghton, will chart hidden histories of witchcraft and folk magic.

 

Embedded with symbols and charts, the map will act as a continually updated resource throughout the tour. Available through this online portal will be a new commission by Blue Firth, which will take the form of a series of podcasts that respond to the landscapes and histories of each touring venue’s location.

 

Ben Jeans Houghton will open the exhibition on September 15 with an improvised performance expressing aspects of his own magical practice through harmonic voice and spoken word, using repurposed effects pedals, loopers, ritual tools and costume.

Other works in the exhibition include Serena Korda’s Jug Choir, a selection of ceramic witch bottles that double as instruments for collective chants, Dream Family, a film by Nadine Byrne, whose personal mythological world can also be seen through the costumes and accompanying dream diary on display and Magic Kills Industry, a lecture-film by Georgia Horgan that charts the effect of the politics of land ownership on witchcraft trials and our wider perception of magic.

 

Accompanying the exhibition will be an events programme led by exhibiting artists. At Oriel Davies Gallery, artist duo Fourthland will lead a public workshop on October 6 where the weaving of modern-day spells will form a participatory grimoire - a contemporary book of shadows - which will travel with the exhibition. This will be collectively added to at each exhibition venue.

 

The contemporary works on show will be contextualised through archival material, magazines and artworks, as well as loaned artefacts, including magical tools used by practitioners of the craft.

 

A range of affordable and mostly wearable limited edition art works by Georgia Horgan, Anna Bunting Branch, Serena Korda, Ayesha Tan Jones and Nadine Byrne have been designed especially for the exhibition. They will be available to purchase from the Legion Projects website and at tour venues from the launch date.

 

The exhibition artists are Verity Birt, Anna Bunting Branch, Nadine Byrne, Mary Beth Edelson, Fiona Finnegan, Blue Firth, Fourthland, Georgia Horgan. Ben Jeans Houghton, Serena Korda, Candice Lin, Katarzyna Majak, Monica Sjöö, Lucy Stein, Ayesha Tan Jones and Cathy Ward.

 

Those unable to attend the exhibition can explore the interactive UK map of Witchcraft, developed by artist Ben Jeans Houghton, on www.wakingthewitch.uk or join the conversation online through our hashtag #WakingtheWitchExhibition 

On October 13, a course for adults on Esoteric Herbalism will be led by Cristina Pandolfo from 10.30am to 4pm at a cost of £65. This course will provide basic theoretical and practical knowledge of green witchcraft and herbal magic, planetary correspondences and vibrational qualities of plants. Participants will need to bring their own pestle and mortar, notebook and pen.

Waking the Witch is a touring exhibition curated by Legion Projects and supported by Arts Council England.

 

Oriel Davies, a registered charity, receives funding from Arts Council of Wales and Powys County Council. The gallery is open from Monday to Saturday fom 10am to 5pm and admission is free.


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