Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sex and Witchcraft, Transition Gallery, London

Above: Detail of "Beheaded Girl in a Red Dress takes a Long Hard Look at Herself", found broken Royal Doulton Figurine, tree branch and table, Hilary Jack 2008

Sex and Witchcraft at Transition Gallery, London
Preview February 14th 6pm

Lisa Penny, Hilary Jack, Anne Marie Kennedy, Beata Veszely, Susan Taylor, Rachel Tweddell and Kate Street
Working across media, often incorporating the use of found materials and table top techniques the artists engage in a disturbing alchemy. Dabbling in the chemistry of a first sighting and the magical fusion of opposing elements the artists reveal a dark underbelly to the world of love and flowers, white horses and watercolours. The exhibition is accompanied by a commissioned essay by Gary Lachman, the author of a number of books exploring links between occultism and modern culture.

Images from the Show

Above: Beheaded Girl takes a Long Look at Herself by Hilary Jack


February 18, 2008
'Sex and Witchcraft' Exhibition
Transition Gallery • 15th February – 9th March 2008
Who doesn't want to believe in magic? Whether we can suspend our disbelief or not, I'm certain that a little bit of enchantment in our lives wouldn't go amiss. The seven female artists in 'Sex and Witchcraft' (Hilary Jack, Anne Marie Kennedy, Rachel Tweddell, Lisa Penny, Kate Street, Susan Taylor, Beata Veszely) explore the ideas of the occult in very different ways; resulting in works that range from the exuberant to the quietly melancholic.
An essay by Gary Lachman, an author interested in links between the occult and modern culture, contextualises the work nicely. I’m one of those exhibition-goers who laps up any kind of socio-historic background to work, particularly when the essay in question gives such valuable tit-bits such as that sleeping with the devil is akin to being with ‘a stallion among mares’. Although there is undoubtedly an undercurrent of sexuality to some of the work, I saw the exhibition more in terms of ‘sex’ as a celebration of the feminine.
Highlights included Kate Street’s ‘Orchis’, a drawing of slow, considered beauty. The work seemed somewhere between a memento mori and a botanical catalogue image, fusing delicate petals with skull-like imagery. According to the ancient Greeks, orchids sprang from the spilt semen of mating animals; this rather earthy belief contrasts with the delicacy of the work.
Beata Veszely’s video piece ‘On the Way to Heaven’ also seemed to comment on the inherent beauty in nature; it celebrated in a dream-like way the power and movement of a white horse. The interaction between nature and the artist was a recurring idea in the exhibition, fittingly so since so much of our ideas of witchcraft are tied up with Wiccan beliefs of nature-supreme. The icon of the white horse is unavoidably linked with the unicorn, well at least in my child-like mind it is…and this is why this exhibition is so enjoyable: work that explores ideas of witchcraft persuades us to be as imaginative and as open to ideas of magic as we were when we were children.
Written by Beth Richards Posted on February 18, 2008 12:36 PM