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The Fall and the Fool



He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Alfred Tennyson The Eagle 1851


The sea does more than crinkle and crawl, it changes per hour. The sea is a Turbulent, inconsistent force. We can only see the danger when were in it.


One can only truly understand when one is fully immersed rather than looking down or upon. It is better to appear lesser, to be a fool and fall than a high rising bird. Although the bird surveys the surface IN the end the fool has the greater perspective and gets to understand what it feels to be part of everything.

Genius Loci (the protective spirit of place) or genii locurum (plural) is where it all begins. Cornish folklore stories of sea gods, owl witches and merry maidens emerge to inspire my own mythologies. Like the irish legend of the Selkie (Tomm Moore The Secret of Kells)  the spirit rises from the sea. The Stone circles in the past were places of celebration and with dancing rituals. The genius loci is relived through dance. Yet in Victorian times the dancing becomes forbidden. the great menhirs, the symbolic markers of the land spirit were named 'Dans Meyn', meaning ‘dancing stone’ eg the Merry Maidens or Blind fiddler, or The Pipers.  So named after local people who broke the rules on the Sabbath and were turned to stone for dancing. 


This happens throughout mythology. The fairytale story by Hans Christian Andersons of the sinful Karan who puts on the red shoes and dances till her feet bleed. ‘The Red Shoes’ is similar to the story of Merry Maidens in the idea that they represent Christian methods of trying to eliminate so called subversive pagan activity.


In both stories the higher moral authority breeds fear and ignorance of the true spirit of place at the same time exhausting all life, fluidity and expression. The purpose of my work here is to experience the fall, rediscover the spirit of place and explore and exhibit more immersive picture

Inspired by the concept of the red shoes I have been producing multimedia work illustrating how they can represent ecstatic liberation: the dance of the red shoes. The woman here is demonised for her curiosity and her taboo act of temptation. The artwork illustrates how these shoes are emblematic of liberation and exploring our relation to conceptions of womanhood and re-empowering the abject and defiled; reclaiming the forbidden fruits. I explore the colour red and all its associations with passion and blood. It suggests impulsiveness and is explosive, bold and sexual. Importantly red becomes associated with female menstruation and bocome viewed with abjection as unclean, dangerously polluting, and allied to the horror and the macabre.


The quest here is how can we turn abjection into power and I have been researching the work of Julia Kristeva  Powers of Horror: An essay on Abjection (1982) . Zoe Williams, Pipi Lotti Rist….


Why the pickle? 

This is a story of Lily in the Valley who got herself into a pickle as she asked for more than what she knew. Dreaming in isolation, in 21st century lockdown, she was lured to dance. Naked on Altars, in bars and on beaches. I visualise this in a tapestry of interaction between story and becomes alive through the video ‘Piccalilith breaks into heaven’ Through film you can visualise the movement of weaving in and out of spaces and pickle jars. 

Once upon a Time, not in My time, not in Our time, but in Someone’s time… A pigeon falls out of the sky and lands lifeless on the ground; to then be pickled by the witch in containment of a jar. (a true story, if I were a witch) 

The utility of pickling is to preserve and encapsulate the goodness within. But the process also represents an introspective journey, feeling the sorrows of the world, shedding tears that are seen to pollute and blur reality. However the pickle truth that these tears are the real. they stand for a psychological realm of great beauty and depth, emotional intelligence. 

I use Poseidon, the Archetype of emotion, instinct and the sea. He resonates with this emotional, he represents for repression of emotions going underground to the waters, this rage, tried and primitive urge to make everybody around him suffer. As well as grief and sorrow he plunges into this great beauty and feels greater Knowledge, or more experience and observation. This emotional hidden depth that is unexpressed is still there, (especially in men) but becomes deep introverted feelings that need to be tapped or expressed in creative outlets of some kind.
So Poseidon is a metaphor for a person who can travel deeply into the world of feeling and gain access to soul and sorrow, great beauty, and the vast profoundness of it all.


People often perceive the creative as a fool. A simpleton who’s distraction is essential to make the art real.  In a sense perhaps the village idiot is also the shaman, the witchdoctor and the witch. Able to make the fall, perceive the horror and macabre, put aside the normal, access genius loci, the underworld and the spirits of ancestors and the dead in order to discover new beginnings and improvise with belief. Being inexperienced leaves more faith in the future and improvisation in nature. 

Cecil Collins ‘The fool does not see the world with the disillusioned knowingness of the scientist; rather he marvels; he looks with the eyes of a child

‘the eternal virginity of spirit, which in the dark winter of the world, continually proclaims the existence of a new life, gives faithful promise of the spring of an invisible Kingdom, and the coming of light’.


IN romantic folklore the questing knight only feels pain to at the time of the full moon. He becomes vulnerable and susceptible to love. At this time his emption al armour evaporates. The knight then discovers that eternal undying love is not the end all but shrouded by infatuation and lust and cannot hold him forever. There is this Melancholic quest and yearning for the maiden, this love so far out of reach they would almost wish to be death itself. When this Maiden is reached she is only a possession and the hero becomes thicker skinned. 

As an ode to the macabre and to further explore the abject and in keeping with my pickling theme I consider death here. Especially at these times of pandemic. The fall can be symbolised by death.  In the western world death is the abject we consider our life as the chance to exist, we have no wonder for duality and the balance of dark bleeding into light as death give birth to life. In many fairy tale, myth and ritual to die is not so literal. In the decent of Inanna and Persephone they fall to understand the depths of the underworld gaining light and experience by the power of Inanna’s weeping and Persephone potent pomegranate seeds.  This idea that death is fixed and to mourn and be sorrowful we move further that grieving the dead but to die with them, the desire to be death itself. Being turned to stone is another symbol of this. 

In the Song of the Sea animation by Tomm Moore ( The Secret of Kells based on the Irish legend of the selkie—creatures that live as seals in the sea but become human on land) The Sea God cries and cries the sea In grief from the loss of his lover. The Macha the owl witch, who is his mother, takes his emotions away and turns him to stone, she feels she is doing best for him ‘those nasty little emotions, sorrowful things’ she is half stone herself.  She traps these emotions in jars and keeps them in her parlour. Just as I imagine these feelings trapped away in Jars. I imagine the stones that contained the girls who once danced, the merry maidens. I visualise as pickles festering away. To Preserve something for the winter in hibernation.

The Fool who Falls and Festers but Feels.

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