Thursday, 30 January 2014

Haunted and hypnotized by the idea of the witch...

That's a quote from the beginning of The Art of Witchcraft hosted by artist Lachlan Goudie (son of painter Alexander Goudie). Lachlan begins with a look at his father's fascination with a witch named Nannie Dee (from a Burns poem) but moves on to explore other artists' depictions of the witch over the last 500 years. Conveniently for him, there was an exhibition, Witches and Wicked Bodies, at Scotland's National Gallery at the time. There's nothing much new here BUT it is interesting to see that the stereotype of the witch (old hag hovering over a boiling cauldron with nearby cat) was formed during the medieval period thanks mostly to some women fearing/hating monks. the invention of the printing press was in part responsible for the dissemination of an even more frightening manifestation of misogyny - the witch hunts that began to sweep through Europe in the 15th century. One book in particular, ‘Malleus Malificarum‘ (‘Hammer of Witches’), written by two Dominican monks and published in 1486, created an image of witches as hate-filled old hags whose hideous appearance was but the outward manifestation of their cruel natures. (Source)


Gutted you missed the exhibit? Well, you get another chance at the British Museum starting September 2014.  Read a review here and here.

This fascinating exhibition co-curated by the artist and writer, Deanna Petherbridge, will investigate the changing depiction in prints and drawings of witches and witchcraft from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. Artists of the calibre of Dürer, Goya and Fuseli were drawn to the rich imagery and mythology that had built up around witches from classical times that ranged from hideously terrifying hags to bewitching seductresses intent on enslaving their male victims through their beauty. Source