ARTE at the MWM

Arte at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

The MWM owns a significant collection of occult art, which was begun under Cecil Williamson [Director of the Museum 1951 – 1996] continued through Graham King [1996 – 2013] and Simon Costin [2013 – date]. This year’s exhibition is curated by Simon Costin, whose collector’s eye has informed the selection. Taken as a whole, the diverse collection expresses creativity as various as occult and magical practice happens to be.

Works symbolic, abstract, and figurative are shown alongside one another, provoking an interdisciplinary conversation.

Steffi Grant’s vivid panels rub shoulders with contrasting treatments of similar source material by different artists; Richard E Clarke and Joss A Smith. There are meditations on Macbeth’s witches by several unknown painters; one of Bob Richel’s versions of Baphomet, a Goya etching, Haitian vodou metalwork, a sabbatic goat from Sin Eater, and a charming three dimensional work, created for the MWM, The Hermit, Laura Keeble.

As readers of the MWM ‘zine Conjuration will be aware [issue 2; Secret Histories: The Satyrs] The Order of Artemis were adepts in repurposing sculpture. This year’s exhibition also shows an additional Celtic Head which Ralph and Audrey Harvey would traditionally hung with a garland on the four main seasonal sabbats; it started life as a prop for the 1981 film Excalibur. Together with a number of other new works purchased by Simon Costin, they augment the MWM’s ‘Arte Magica’, the collection of which Cecil Williamson first began, which starts with a painting by Victor Edward Gregory exhibited at The Royal Academy in 1958, Shussh.