Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lucy Elsie Harvey: Magic in Modern Oxford

Sketchbook studies of the pieces of the Edward Lovett Collection at Pitt Rivers Museum, currently on exhibition at 'Charmed Life', Wellcome Collection.

My visits to Oxford centre round the fantastic Pitt Rivers Museum whose eccentric collection has inspired my practice for many years. The museum offers many facets for artist response and previously I have focused on their collection of witchcraft artefacts and ceremonial grooming devices. My current enquiry is concerned with the transformation of everyday artefacts into power objects such as lucky charms and amulets. I have been following the trail of English folklorist Edward Lovett whose collection in part makes up the museum’s Amulets and Charms collection. Lovett also published a book titled “Magic in Modern London” in 1925 and was a sceptic with an eclectic collection in true Victorian tradition. You can read about Pitt River’s Amulet and Charm collection here, with more background on the collection over on Wellcome Collection website where pieces are being exhibited as part of their Charmed Life exhibition.

I am interested the relationship between the seemingly mundane materials used in these objects and their acquired symbolism; glass beads, coral, acorns, stones and animal parts feature alongside a series of techniques to elevate them beyond the mundane and incite their power: wrapping, encasing, piercing. Beyond this transformation the charm’s power is meant to be contagious and transferable to the wearer through adornment. Using these processes I hope to make amulets for modern Oxford.

No comments:

Post a Comment