Sunday, April 27, 2014

Museum of Witchcraft welcomes award winning illustrator Hayley Potter

This week the Museum welcomed Hayley Potter, illustrator and senior lecturer at Arts University Bournemouth.  Hayley was carrying out research for her new project 'Visualizing the British Witch'.  Hayley was particularly interested in our collection of charms and during her visit used the library to research folk magic and customs associated with the sea and the Cornish coast.

Here is Hayley's beautiful drawing of a Love Charm (Object No. 258).  Hayley is currently the online artist-in-residence with HATCH, an organisation that promotes the use of drawing as a tool for research.  You can read more about the current project here.

Here is the love charm itself - a fascinating object constructed in the 1930s from sea shells, red wax and bound in a rayon stocking.  It is currently on display in 'Sea Witchcraft':

Hayley was fascinated by the Museum's collection of spirit houses.  These are thought to be dwelling places for conjured spirits, which are filled with objects the spirit may like. 

This particular spirit bottle is very unusual:  it contains a star puff ball, an egg shell, some sycamore seeds, a lily root and bulb, a lump of sulphur and a lady's bra formed into a ball.   This beautiful and deeply personal object was collected by Cecil Williamson in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.  Cecil wrote the following:  "The thinking behind such fabrications is complicated to say the least, and calls for a deal of folklore knowledge and an understanding of the world of spirit force.  My advice, leave well alone".  I am sure Cecil would approve of its current location, safe, undisturbed, unopened and on display in Spells and Charms.  

Many thanks to Hayley for visualizing anew Britain's rich traditions of witchcraft!

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