Thursday 9 May 2019

'The Witches Sabbath'

One evening on my drive home watching dusk approach and the moon rise in the sky an idea struck me suddenly, as they sometimes do. I saw the image of a ritual taking place at dusk, what I call 'the magic hour' where the light and sky do some amazing things which are very hard to capture. Fire flickers and dances in the darkness while a goat standing erect like a biped dances and sways. His adoring followers dance around him in a frenzied ritual, spinning and twisting and turning.

This strange mental image is what eventually inspired 'The Witches Sabbath'. For a long time the working title of the piece was 'Lunar Goat', but when deciding on a final title I went for something which was a nod to one of my favourite artists Francisco Goya and his 'Witches Sabbath', which also partly inspired the piece.

I wanted to try to convey some of the thoughts which Goya's black paintings give me through this piece. Curiosity, intrigue and wonderment largely. Whats happing? Have they summoned the Goat? Are they worshipping the Goat? Or with the Goat? Is he otherworldly? A God or Demon? Is he sinister and satanic? Or a Pagan symbol? I wanted to try and give a sense of mystery with the piece. Echo rituals and traditions long since forgotten, a secret practice of our pre-christian history perhaps. Something that I hoped would speak to Satanists and Pagans alike with its 'open to interpretation' messages. Themes touched on include; nature worship, respect for the earth and its bounty, the lunar cycle and the significance of the moon and the sun, wild animals representing our wild nature, the elements, freedom of expression; of lust, madness, passion.
I am sure that Goya's 'Witches Sabbath' means many things to many people, if I have achieved 1% of that effect of making an artwork personable and reflecting something for you uniquely then the piece has been entirely worth while.

The goat is based on a photograph I took of a goat at Aigue Morts in France during the Festival of St Louis where the town becomes a frenzy of Medieval activity. His posture in his dance is designed to have a rallying, beckoning effect and is inspired by Goya's goats pose to some degree.
The sky comes from a photograph I took of one particularly brooding dusk after the initial idea had struck me and I was waiting for the suitable sky to present itself.
The plants in the piece are all poisonous to some degree Poison Ivy, Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), Henbane and Datura (Jimson Weed). Some of them represent the use of these in magic or flying ointments. They entwine symbols which reflect Alchemy, Pagan and Satanic beliefs and Solomons Seal, all of which have deep rooted occult meanings, which again have different interpretations depending on your thinking.

At over 30 hours work to complete 'The Witches Sabbath' is one complex and lengthy pieces I have created, and is one of the few artworks I have created that isn't part of a series. That isnt to say I dont have accompanying pieces in my mind already!

'The Witches Sabbath' is now available as a limited edition print Here