New work. Augury: Birds for the Eyes of the Shaman

Here are some photos of new work.  “Augury: Birds for the Eyes of the Shaman”

Textiles are a potent signifier of human experience for me and this piece is a product of my ‘other’ life in Norway, where I spend my time, away from the world, in the studio on the North-facing slope of a mountain where we are surrounded by trees, rocks, birds and animals. Folklore, story traditions and magic symbolism have always had an abiding fascination for me. In shamanic or magical ritual, augury is a method of foretelling the future by observing bird and animal behaviour.

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In this installation the Shaman is attended by 3 embroidered creatures that perch precariously on towers of colourful, decorated, domestic tins, once full of foodstuffs from the ‘four corners’ of the world. The Shaman’s gown, apron and headdress have been re-assembled from collected textile fragments, deconstructed, abandoned vintage craft projects, old fur collars and printed fabrics, stitched into and machine embroidered.

When the Shaman begins her ritual she calls the spirits of the animals back into their furs and they help her to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ in the ‘other’ world.

guild ipad 02guild skirt detail 21I had found a very old photograph of a Shaman, a woman raising a drum and was immediately reminded of Holman Hunt’s painting of The Lady of Shallot, caught at that dramatic moment her mirror cracks and the threads of her tapestry snap and fly out into her chamber and out of the window. These two images are embroidered into and placed next to each other on the gown as skirt and apron. The raised drum, printed onto cream satin, becomes moon-like and echoes the mirror in the Holman-Hunt image. I created a web of coloured threads about the Shaman image, again mirroring the tangle of threads in the painting.

Holman-Hunt,_William,_and_Hughes,_Edward_Robert_-_The_Lady_of_Shalott_-_1905siberia evenki shaman woman

The notion of the artist as one that looks out at the world from a peculiar, domestic isolation is historically familiar, as is the idea of the artist as a kind of ‘seer’ and both of these things have preoccupied me during the making of this.

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guild head close up

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This installation is currently on show in The Guild Contemporary Textile Exhibition. It’s on every day from 12 – 4pm until the 6th of October at Temple Works, Marshall St, Leeds.  You can’t miss it, it’s the building with the facade like an Egyptian temple, complete with winged scarabs and pillars –  it’s remarkably beautiful.

Also, opening tonight, I have 3 of my shamanic creatures in Touched, an exhibition of soft sculpture at The Ground Floor Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee.  Follow the link for information on opening times and the other artists involved.  Touched web link

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This one has a removable hood.

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About morwennacatt

Artist / designer / illustrator
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