New window for a new season
Getting ready for the new season always involves thinking about the museum window. This year, Simon and Marti, (it was Marti who created the Stag’s head which graced the window for several years) combined their talents to create something in tune with this years new exhibition, Betwixt and Between. Isobel Gowdie, the Witch of Auldearn.
Marti has this to say about the Hare.
‘Hares have long held an association with witches and magic. Isobel Gowdie, the famous Scottish witch of Auldearn, spoke of being sent on an errand by the devil and her subsequent transformation into a hare to secretly traverse the countryside. To outwit a pack of dogs in pursuit, she ran from house to house until she had the opportunity to repeat the charm that would transform her back to human form. The bite of a dog, whilst not fatal to a ‘shape shifter’ in animal form, could result in ‘wound doubling’ upon the body of the witch, when the original human form was resumed.
Inspired by Isobel’s transformations and the old belief in the ‘otherworldly’ nature of hares, I have fashioned a hare as ‘nazarlik’, the protective tribal amulets found in Anatolia and Central Asia.
From protective blue-eye beads, to spectacular wall hangings constructed of shells, mirrors and tassels, nazarlik have been averting ill-wishing and evil influences for ages, their roots extending back to the pre-Islamic, shamanistic origins of Anatolia and Central Asia.
Nazarlik employ a range of devices to confound evil influences. Intertwining bright coloured beadwork attracts and dissipates evil influences in a similar way to tangled threads in a witch’s ball, or the swirls of colour in a glass cane.
Bright colours ward off the evil eye. Perhaps most notable is turquoise, long held as a protector and fortune bringer. Supreme in its powers of protection, it was worn by both the Ancient Egyptians and Persians.
Mirrors reflect back evil influence and send out beams of positive sunlight. The traditional Anatolian belief is that evil does not wish to look upon its own reflection. Mirrors are often included in nazarlik, whether created to protect the home or as the trappings of horses and camels.
Cowrie shells have been associated with good luck, protection and used as a currency by many ancient cultures. In nazarlik they form ancient protective motifs in combination with buttons and beads. Triangular forms, stars and flowers exemplify shapes associated with protection.
Small amulets and found objects add their own qualities of protective power to nazarlik. Blue glass eye beads, Egyptian scarabs, and the Hand of Fatima. Bound thorns, picked by a powerful enchantress and her familiar under a Blood Wolf Moon, pierce evil influences and offer their protection. Ancient arrowheads or ‘Elf- Bolts’, given to Isobel by the Devil, become symbols of defence and protection as part of this nazarlik’.
Simon worked with Ava Asaadi to produce a magical tree representing the four seasons, as a backdrop for the Hare. Each and everyone of the leaves were hand printed from a lino-cut that Simon made and then applied to the tree along with dried acorns.