Victoria and Albert Museum

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Folk Customs

Folk Customs

Folk customs throughout Britain and Europe have survived until the present day, and potentially haven't changed that much (as far as we know). However, the origins and meanings of these often strange and vibrant customs are mostly a mystery.

I mostly explored the folk custom of the Mari Lwyd, still practised around the South Wales area around the winter solstice/new year, where the main event is a battle of poetry and song. If the Mari Lwyd wins entry into your home/pub it is regarded as good luck. However this whimsical event is represented by a mare skull covered by a ghostly white sheet, and as mischievous and harmless is the nature of this character, she is quite terrifying. No one can pinpoint where this tradition came from exactly, and more importantly why it first came about. Many say the Mari Lwyd was part of some 'ancient fertility rites', but I think there's much more to this character.

In my work I attempt to explore the sinister mysterious side of these old traditions through the medium of etching, aqua-tints and collography. I felt the medium of etching had quite an organic spontaneous feel to it, and liked the way aqua-tinting allowed me to combine detail with dramatic tone. I kept compositions simple yet dramatic, and hopefully quite eery.

mari aquatint
mari collograph
joyeux noel aquatint