Augury Woods, a project exploring mythical imagination and dark places.
If you walk deep into a forest at night, your mind starts to play tricks on you. Sounds are amplified, the trees creek, owls hoot and strange shrieks emanate from the blackness beyond your torchlight. If you happen to disturb a deer, your heart will almost stop as it bolts from the dark in a sudden burst of sleek muscle. In the darkness you may begin to imagine other denizens of the nocturnal woods - liminal beings perhaps; wild witches who inhabit the nether world of Augury Woods.
It is these imaginary denizens that are glimpsed and ‘photographed’ in the torchlight. Through a process akin to Frankenstein’s constructed creation, mysterious sorceresses are conjured into being with intricate precision through a process of photographic painting: Using upwards of five different photographs, body parts are combined to create a being. They do not truly exist, there was no model shot in the forest, even their faces are constructed and bodies painted - imagined into being. In this way they could be considered, in more senses than one, to be mythical beings.
These beings are then placed into nocturnal photographs, taken after nightfall deep in the woods. Real places then become transformed: Augury Woods, Black Jory Mire, and Muddling Thicket are places in the mind, fairy tale forests where our imaginations can run free.
There is a Siberian folk tale, told to girls who have been touched by magic and therefore destined to become shamans; a young woman leaves her ugly husband the hunter, and runs free into the woods, only to be captured by a giant and locked in his yurt. To escape the giant, she dons a fox pelt and is magically transformed into a fox. She burrows out of the yurt and runs to her family's village only to find that she is no longer recognised by them — she is seen instead as an animal to be hunted for its precious fur. With nowhere to turn, she runs and runs into the wild expanse of the Siberian wilderness, on and on she travels until she bounds into the heavens where with each leap a new star is born. It is said she runs there still, on and on, for all time.
The images from Augury Woods convey a sense of powerful and magical feminine energies. But these energies are not restricted solely to the female, they lie buried within all of us, the wild, the animal, the magical - the deer in flight from the torchlight.