Tuesday 1 August 2017

'Evil, be gone ...': Eguzkilore inspired Flora and Fauna

This design has particular significance for me. It was inspired by numerous trips to Southern France and Basque country, which has its own very unique traditions and beliefs. In the region many beliefs have existed which are almost unique to the area and have often been persecuted, such as Basque Paganism and the Cathars. The remnants of these beliefs live on in different traditions and daily life in the region. I first noticed visiting the incredibly picturesque Saint-Guilhem-le-D├ęsert 4 years ago a strange symbol adorning many doors in the commune, what I thought to be a dried sunflower, yet subsequent research revealed it to be a Carlina acaulis - a type of silver thistle (which I detailed in my blog 'Eguzkilore'). Research told me the symbol had originated from basque pagan tradition, symbolising the sun and protecting the home from darkness and demons. Yet again last year I saw the symbol, in Narbonne in a collection of archeological stones at the Lapidary Museum. The stones date back to Roman times, many are ancient grave markers. Many featured the symbol, which could be seen hundreds of times, obviously holding great significance and importance in Roman Narbonne.

When beginning design work for my flora and fauna series I began to consider incorporating Eguzkilore into one piece. The more I considered it, the more I thought what a good idea it was to theme one piece around the symbolism of the Eguzkilore and pay homage to the traditions of my beloved Languedoc-Roussillon.

When sketching for the piece I decided to draw the image of the Eguzkilore blooming in the wild, not dried and nailed to a door, however as far as I'm concerned the symbolism is still the same. When contemplating insects to feature in the composition I quickly decided on the cicada, as this is another strong symbol of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. I first saw a ceramic cicada in Aigue Mortes and wondered what on earth it meant, and the more I looked, the more of them i saw. It turns out the cicada, like Eguzkilore is a symbol of protection and against bad luck, but in the wider world the cicada is also represents resurrection, immortality and spirituality.
As a second insect it felt apt to include the Scarabaeidae commonly known as the Scarab beetle. The Beetle is one of the most well known symbolic insects in the world and of course represented the sun in ancient Egyptian culture. I felt this reaffirmed the symbolism of the Eguzkilore and ensured the piece was tied in with the sun, light and protection from evil.

The symbolism of this piece is so important to me because it pays homage to an ancient tradition which for many is a hidden piece of history only there for those willing to look. For me the symbol of the Eguzkilore represents the region I have come to love and adore so much. Its layers of history, its warmth and positivity and the richness and depth of culture waiting for those willing to scratch the surface. 'Evil, be gone ...' pays tribute to history, tradition and all things Languedoc-Roussillon.

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