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Zoomorphic


Front Cover: Jackie Needham - Mouse and Squirrel


Zoomorphic The half world between human and animal

03.12.16 - 28.01.17

Anthropomorphica, Eleanor Bartleman, Christie Brown, Adrian Higgins, Kerry Jameson, kealwork, Jackie Needham, Gladys Paulus, Zenna Tagney, Yannick Unfricht

A Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre Exhibition 2016


Christie Brown – Rabbit Girl Photo © Sylvain Deleu


Zoomorphic

The word zoomorphic derives from the Greek ζωον (zōon), meaning “animal”, and μορφη (morphē), meaning “shape” or “form”. 1:  having the form of an animal 2: of, relating to, or being a deity conceived of in animal form or with animal attribute


Eleanor Bartleman - Frocks


Zoomorphic This exhibition explores the half world

or flight, to protect their young, attract a

between human and animal. The contact

mate, search for food to survive – all these

point between animal nature and human

elements still make up part of our deeper

culture. The zoomorphic transformation

psyche. Animal traits given to humans has

of humans taking on animal form has

even become part of everyday speech -

been part of folklore and religion for

pig headed, mother tigress defending her

millennia, from native American skin

young, cunning as a fox, strong as an ox,

walkers, Egyptian gods and the creatures

bull headed, bear with a sore head. Humans

of European fairy tales. These hybrids

may have created ‘civilisation’ through

explore the imagery of fantasy and magic

cultural development and knowledge -

but also the essential animal instinct

art, literature, maths, science. However

behind all human nature.

the basic animal urges lie within us all. We have developed mechanisms which make

We all possess part of the animal within, the

us the most social of animals, able to

pre-civilisation human lived as animals do

work together to create something larger

today on pure instinct – the urge for fight

than the individual. These mechanisms,


Gladys Paulus - Golden Eagle mask

photo Š Gitte Morten


love, friendship, charity, compassion,

as well as domestic animals. Throughout

co-operation are mixed with the darker

human history we have also been

traits of ambition and hate to create the

fascinated by what it might mean to be

hierarchies and political systems which

like an animal or part animal, people

humans have used to construct their

often dream of being able to fly or talk

societies.

to animals. Stories, folklore and religion from all over the world are full of these

Humans

have

long

superimposed

references.

Ancient

Egypt

pictured

their emotion onto animals in stories,

it’s gods as animal headed humanoid

literature and latterly film. Zoomorphism,

forms such as Ra, Sobek and Anubis. In

anthropomorphism and personification

ancient Greek mythology there are many

all have ancient roots in storytelling and

hybrid creatures such as centaurs and

most cultures have traditional fables with

mermaids. In European fairy tales animal

anthropomorphized animals as characters.

transformation is common especially as

People have routinely attributed human

a disguise or a punishment - beauty and

emotions and behavioral traits to wild

the beast or the frog prince. Fairytales also


often use animals as devices to educate,

while probably the most well-known for

befriend or terrify. Shakespeare gives

modern times would be the werewolf.

the character Bottom in A Mid Summer

North American indigenous traditions

Night’s Dream an ass’s head and in Hamlet,

contain shapeshifters or skinwakers.

Ophelia says the line “They say the Owl

Some cultures even have legends of their

was a baker’s daughter” – a reference to a

race being descended from animals, the

story from medieval Christian mythology

dog headed man ‘Pan Hu’ in China or the

in which a girl is transformed into an owl

legend of Asena the wolf from who the

as punishment.

Turkic people descended.

In many cultures there are legends of

As a child I visited ‘Mr Potter’s Museum of

therianthropy, the ability of humans to

Curiosities’ and was amazed by the stuffed

metamorphose into animals by means

animals posed in human tableaux. Created

of shapeshifting. It is possible that the

by Walter Potter a Victorian taxidermist,

prehistoric cave drawings found in France

after seeing an illustrated book on nursery

depict ancient beliefs of this concept

rhymes he produced what was to become


the centrepiece of his museum, a diorama

There if often an almost symbiotic

of “The Death and Burial of Cock Robin”

relationship between animals and people.

which included 98 species of British

These relationships were first developed

birds. Amongst his scenes were a rats’

through the domestication of animals for

den being raided by the local police rats,

specific purposes, cats to hunt vermin,

a village school featuring 48 little rabbits

dogs to track food, horses to carry or

busy writing on tiny slates, a guinea pigs’

plough. But our relationships with animals

cricket match and 20 kittens attended a

have become and probably always were

wedding, wearing little morning suits or

much more than this. Our love of pets

brocade dresses, with a feline vicar in white

leads us to treat and talk to them as

surplice. The museum fell out of fashion

though they were our own children. The

and closed in the 1980s but its popularity

attribution of human traits and emotions

for a hundred years is testament to our

to animals is considered to be an innate

fascination in the possibility of humans

tendency of human pyschology. But as

becoming animals and animals becoming

the primatologist Frans de Waal said “To

more human.

endow animals with human emotions


Adrian Higgins - Safe As Houses


has long been a scientific taboo. But if

transformations between animal and

we do not, we risk missing something

human which reflect the animal instinct

fundamental, about both animals and us�.

within us all.

To consider only humans are capable of compassion, love and friendship is to miss

Louise Jones Williams,

something vital in animal’s makeup.

Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre Zoomorphic Exhibitor Curator, December 2016

To recognise the animal within us, both its positive and negative implications makes it clearer to see our place in the world. These artists’ work analyse these dichotomies of animal/human, kind/ cruel, love/hate, nature/nurture. The work in this exhibition contains complex emotions, informed by myth, legend and folklore to produce fantastical works,


Anthropomorphica – Of Root and Antler


Anthropomorphica Melanie Ashton was born of the rain and

snail shells, moss, bones, feathers and

the cold, damp earth of Yorkshire. She is a

exoskeletons.

self-taught doll maker, author, illustrator and photographer, a  wanderling, a

Melanie’s body of work is inspired by the

dreamer, a collector of bones, a lover

human condition, by the cycles of death

of all that is broken and disenchanted

and transformation, by worlds glimpsed

and a delighter in twisted humour and

but rarely ‘seen’, the wild woods and the

unfortunate tales.

lonely moors, sorcery and myth. It mourns the forgetting of the wild within and the

Through the compulsions of a restless soul

ever decreasing wilds of nature but yet,

Melanie’s path has been a varied one, she

there is still maintained within its delicate

has been carried from country to country

feral quality, a tentative optimism for

and blown through moor, forest and city.

wild’s return.

When she’s not in her  studio you can usually find her  scouring the hedgerows and woodlands foraging for tufts of hair,


Eleanor Bartleman – Book Club


Eleanor Bartleman Eleanor Bartleman has developed her

She is intrigued by animal characters

own distinctive style and imagery since

and has a love of pattern and decoration

setting up her practise over 30 years ago.

so she often lavishes her creatures with

Her figurative work is informed by myth,

costume, ruffs and pearls. For her, using

legend and fable.

an animal form to express a human persona has become an effective vehicle

Initially she developed ideas from the

of communication, both in a narrative and

medieval beast epic of Reynard the

expressive way.

Fox in which animals portray human characteristics. Her ideas developed and

The work is made from porcelain clay. It

now come from many sources - such as

is hand modelled, decorated with slips

early manuscripts, Jacobean embroidery

and stains and fired to 1260C. It is finished

and

with lustres and precious metals.

artefacts,

myths

and

legends,

literature and poetry. She likes to play around with source material and develop it into her own.


Christie Brown – Etruscan Man Photo © Sylvain Deleu


Christie Brown Christie Brown’s figurative practice is

exists for the imagination to create an

informed by an interest in our relationship

animated narrative which can include

with objects and the significance and

zoomorphic

relevance of museum collections and

characters. Her most recent work employs

archaic artefacts to contemporary art.

these

Archaeology presents a fragmented

portrait busts and figures that suggest

narrative of past lives and holds parallels

otherworldly beings and composite

with the practice of psychoanalysis where

creatures, which at the same time seem

layers are carefully stripped away to reveal

familiar. This ambiguity is key to the idea

hidden information. Her work references

that human beings are not necessarily the

these traces as well as the mythology and

centre of the universe even if they think

symbolism associated with clay.

they are.

In the uncanny realm of the mimetic figure, an idealised or perhaps disturbing representation of ourselves, the potential

references

animated

and

references,

hybrid creating


Adrian Higgins – Punch and Judy


Adrian Higgins Adrian is a painter and printmaker based

and animal. ‘The Big Bad Wolf’ and the fox

in rural Herefordshire and draws on the

‘Honest John’ who appears in the story

local environment for inspiration. This

of Pinocchio made a huge impression on

body of work has been created through

him. He began to realise that the wolf is

collecting and collaging a series of found

not ‘big’ nor ‘bad’ and a fox is neither ‘sly’

photographs, wallpaper swatches and

nor particularly ‘cunning’ - they are just

Victorian ephemera. Adrian uses digital

being ‘themselves’. In children’s stories

imaging software to refine his ideas and

we endow these characters with these

to produce high quality limited edition

unsavory attributes in an attempt to

digital prints.

help us manage the darker and more dangerous

aspects

of

the

human

All of his work is rooted in anthro-

condition. His work plays with these

pomorphism. His fascination with it

sentiments and like a good children’s

began in early childhood. Many of the

story, the work is dark but does not take

stories he heard or read were full of

itself too seriously.

characters that were a jumble of human


Kerry Jameson – Black Ram Photo © Philip Sayer , courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery


Kerry Jameson Acts of transformation and transmutation

She sees these hessian additions as being a

are key driving forces behind Kerry

protective, strengthening layer, rather than

Jameson’s work. Taking inspiration from

a covering; armour against the modern

shamanic aspects of alchemy, and early

world. Kerry also works in porcelain,

culture such as the Lascaux cave paintings

sometimes with the addition of gold leaf.

of the Paleolithic era this series of work evokes the movement of a primal state of

Using an expressive palette of earthy reds,

consciousness into a place of realization,

ochres, metallic finishes, and including

and her strange, dream-like creatures form

dynamic works on paper, Kerry’s versatile

a powerful link between the mythological

practice immerses the viewer within an

and the everyday.

intriguing realm amidst the past and present, the hidden and the emerging, the

Kerry

instinctively

explores

the

transformative qualities of raku, and further modifies her figurative ceramic sculptures by adding mixed materials and hessian.

extraordinary and the commonplace. Kerry lives and works in Singapore.


kealwork - Wolf

Photo © Philip Volkers


kealwork Barbara and Richard Keal live and work

grasses, and more, a remnant of the

together in Lewes, East Sussex. Their

struggle to make something powerful

work seeks to keep the vitality of the

and useful from the materials of their

living plant and animal from which their

surroundings. Objects to remind us of

materials come. Recognising themselves

our place within the beautiful process of

as part of the family of all living things,

endless growth, decay and renewal.

they use animal hair and other natural materials to make objects which affirm

“We watch our children play, like little

this relationship. Using slow, hands on

gods, they take out their toys and create

making processes they let the raw material

a universe as they want it to be. We like to

speak of its origins. Marks and traces of the

play, we gather materials, arrange and

making process remain to tell the story of

combine them, we too have ideas and ideals.

the works formation.

The objects and garments we make are intended to transport and transform their

The Keal’s works are a residue of their

users, simple natural material connect us

interactions with wool, wood, feathers,

with their origins as creatures of the earth�.


Jackie Needham – The Watcher


Jackie Needham The inspiration for these creatures has

The year after her mother died, she began

its roots in Jackie’s love of reading fairy

creating a series of articulated animal

tales and fables as a child; and years

hybrids to rationalise the different ways in

afterwards discovering the emotive and

which she and her three siblings dealt with

ethereal sculptures of Nicola Hicks and the

their emotions. She also made macabre

unsettling, narrative art of Paula Rego.

wolf and crow puppets which symbolised anxieties emerging in childhood; the

She began making animal hybrids at

monsters lying wait in the shadows when

the start of her degree, large, stacking

we are children recur at times of stress in

wolf-birdwomen and hawk-headed men

adulthood. Creating articulated puppets

who stood as survivors from difficult

enabled her to adjust the positions of their

relationships, in which love, loss, anger,

limbs, altering body language, thereby

revenge and anxiety were explored.

allowing the possibility of other scenarios

Creating

and outcomes for these characters.

autobiographical

work

has

always been a very cathartic process for her and has laid many ghosts to rest.

She used a mouse, rabbit, squirrel and an


Jackie Needham – Hare


Jackie Needham cont’d ermine to highlight the sibling’s different

conflicting roles as predator and prey,

characters. Their fork and spoon hands are

betrayer and betrayed, waiting for his

posed as if in waiting for a meal, but they

chance of vengeance, or conversely,

now use them to share ‘the spoil’ - the

perhaps reconciliation.

final division of their mother’s precious and beloved mementoes. The four

Hares are such fragile, elusive creatures

were fired together in the kiln; another

with an other-wordly mythology. The

symbol of their shared loss and familial

puppet hare is a mysterious mixture of

relationships.

childlike adolescent and coquette. The textural hare is a changeling creature,

The mouse symbolises her painfully shy

of this and other worlds. He holds many

self as a child when she often felt she

secrets in his heart.

would like to change places with her pet mice so that no-one would notice her. The fox is a trickster figure in many cultures, and is depicted here in The Watcher, in


Gladys Paulus – Fantasy Mask


Gladys Paulus Originally from the Netherlands, Gladys

This notion of the wool ‘remembering’

Paulus is now based in Somerset and

provides Gladys with the means to mark

works predominantly in the medium of

and process important events in her life

hand-made felt textiles.

and links her to an ancient textile tradition which played a vital role in the history of

Echoed by the alchemy of the felt making

humankind. Wool is an honest, protective

process, her work explores patterns of

and nurturing medium, which is subject

change and transformation. Felt making

to the ravages of time as much as we are.

is a long, physical and intimate process,

She feels there is something profoundly

during which wool fibres, water and soap

humbling in investing hours of work in

are combined to transform into a fabric

a piece that may or may not survive her.

which can be shrunk into tactile forms. As

Despite the characteristic strength of felt

the wool shrinks and dries, the shape is

there is an implied fragility to the sculpted

stored in the fibres.

form. She is interested in this tension, and how far she can push the boundaries of the medium.


Zenna Tagney – Hare


Zenna Tagney Zenna Tagney is a Cornish artist working

The characters depicted in her work, often

in mixed media sculpture. Her work

human-animal hybrids part way through

incorporates

narrative,

transformation, come from or are inspired

character and nature, inspired by her

by the Cornish myths and stories told to

experiences of growing up in Cornwall

her by her parents. The wild landscapes of

and her connection to its landscapes,

Cornwall are a common context for these

culture, and mythology.

tales, and suggest a hidden other world.

themes

of

The majority of Zenna’s sculptural work uses porcelain clay, a material with a close connection to the area in which she grew up, near ‘China Clay Country’. She also incorporates found objects and vegetation into her pieces.


Yannick Unfricht


Yannick Unfricht Yannick Unfricht is a French performance

dysphonia singing, where gestures are

artist who for more than 20 years has made

hypnotic, mesmerizing and brutal. Amongst

his body a place of constant research and

his characters is Olaf Odgari, the “Red

experimentation. He learned Butoh, a form

Man�. After having lived in seclusion, Olaf is

of Japanese dance theatre under the master

re-born thanks to the vibrations of the music.

Atsushi Takenouchi. Common features of

The music slowly reveals him his Talent: he

the art form include playful and grotesque

is able to perceive the true nature and the

imagery, taboo topics, extreme or absurd

mysteries of humanity. His theatrical gestures,

environments, and it is traditionally per

elegant yet silent, link the poetic dandy

formed in white body makeup with slow

aesthetics from the beginning of last century

hyper-controlled motion. Yannick performs

to modern-day DJ-set performances. Yannick

in art galleries, dance-floors, forests, music

Unfricht as Olaf Odgari expresses a wide range

festivals or on the streets of the cities he

of emotions, moving from acute anguish to

visits: everything becomes a pretext for

extreme enthusiasm in a blink of an eye, and

new experiences and performances. He has

eventually discovering his mentalist’s talents.

a unique language mixing dance and


‘Zoomorphic’ A Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre Exhibition 2016. Design: Hillview Design Published by Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre. Text LGAC 2016 Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre St.David’s Road Cwmbran Torfaen NP441PD T: +44(0)1633 483321 E: info@lgac.org.uk W: www.lgac.org.uk Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre is part of the Arts Council of Wales portfolio of Revenue Funded Organisations. Registered Charity no: 1006933 Company Limited by Guarantee no: 2616241 Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre is funded by the Arts Council of Wales, Torfaen County Borough Council and Monmouthshire County Council. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without written permission from the publisher.

Back Cover: Kerry Jameson - In Costume: Half Man/Half Beast Photo © Philip Sayer, courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery


Zoomorphic Exhibition Catalogue  

Catalogue for Zoomorphic exhibition held at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre Dec 2016. artists include: Anthropomorphica, Eleanor Bartleman, Ch...

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