“What are our learned men save the descendants of witches and hermits who crouched in caves and in woods brewing herbs, interrogating shrew-mice and writing down the language of the stars?” Virginia Woolf
A garden blooming, then overgrown, over-ripe, rancid, transforming, alive. A harvest both beautiful and foul.
A communal gathering, a devil’s dance, a witch’s sabbath.
Nourishment and celebration with rot and decay lurking.
Bondage used as braids.
Bitter Harvest explores a current movement that links contemporary female artists of Aotearoa with occult, mythological and spiritual imagery.
Women have long been regarded as vessels of celestial messages; connected to the natural and spiritual world by some divine force. From witchcraft to mysticism, women have held positions of power outside of organized religion, benefiting their communities and yet unwittingly subversive. As archaic as Tarot imagery, these enduring stories are woven together to create a contemporary narrative. Each work is a distinctive and personal viewpoint, yet they remain united through a sense of sisterhood.
Bitter Harvest reclaims the negative connotation of the malevolent female trope as a means through which artists may explore the inherent power of these formidable women of folklore and fairytales. Included are artists working within the notion of “women’s work”, such as embroidery and weaving, as well as painting, photography, film and sculpture. Many are operating within the reparative aesthetics model, utilizing the art history canon to rewrite past narratives from an alternative point of view. Equally significant are artists reclaiming modes of pre-colonial spirituality, in an attempt to heal and rebuild. This can also be viewed as a means of resistance; operating outside of imposing colonial systems and creating new methods of cultural connection, while sustaining a remembrance for past traditions.
Bitter Harvest calls for a harkening back to the aura of art. That intangible state where mystery resides, on the precipice of unknown realms.
Jung believed in integrating our Shadow to achieve wholeness. Therefore, we rejoice in the female shadow.
- Kate Rampling