This exhibition shows the magic over many centuaries; how it evolved to overcome the rational thought, the mind and the imagination at times when there seems to be no other explanation that the eye can see.
Immediately I walked into a dark room with a single cabinet at its centre. Inside it, suspended on flimsy bronze wire, was a smal silver bottle about the size of my index finger. It mirrored all the faces peering down at it and ignited curiosity immediately. That is when I knew I would pick Spellbound over Bacteria. The single thought that I had no idea what this little bottle was, yet it had stopped me in my tracks and made me question everything I knew. This bottle contained a witch.
As voodoo dolls stared at me from all corners of the room, nails stabbing their eyes and chests I couldn’t help but wonder what else had been in that bottle before the witch. Surely it hadn’t been created for the sole purpose of carrying a witch? Yet, maybe it had. It was glass and silver, with cork the only thing keeping the witch in.
Next I found a pocket tissue, string coiled around it to hold in some herbs and nice smelling flowers in order to overcome the ‘miasmas’ of the plague of 1666. (My GCSE history of medicine coming in handy here) Miasmas were bad smells that the people of the Middle Ages determined caused diseases and illness among the populations as this was before any other sort of reasonable cause of disease had been suggested. I guess in a way though, it was partly true. This little piece of handkerchief made me want to look into medical cures and herbs. The idea of looking into nowday herb Medicine in perhaps aboriginal tribes or Amazonian tribes.
A witched apron, torn and stained, hung from a beam. The stitched patterns confused and chaotic across the fabric, perhaps resembling the confused state of the woman accused of being a witch just became she learnt some of her ancient ancestors herbal remedies. A metal chair, grotesque and harsh and the opposite of comfortable is the opposite side to a pile of bibles. If the woman is heavier than the bibles they have ‘defied’ God and are determined a witch. They are burnt at a stake or drowned in a lake. These woman can’t win because the bibles aren’t heavy enough.
A cattle shed door carved with symbols to deter bad spirits, the scrawls copied by Annie Catrell in her ‘Veroctiy’ carved wood, piece 153. A small round amulet about the size of a compass spins with the moons intensoty and its alignings with the planets to determine how much blood the blood letter should let bleed out of you.
These cures are fascinating. People went along with them and, to be honest, many of them did work, if only a little bit. I want to explore what other herbal remedies there are today, what plants are useful and create some of my own amulets.
This quote inspired me:
‘In this room we encounter the beliefs and actions of people engaged in a delicate balancing act between environmental pressures and the use of medical and magical interventions to control their destinies and find security, happiness and love.’
I want to understand more of those medical interventions.