‘and the earth that is brought to thence will kill them’

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A collaborative installation with Chloe Ashley for “At the Violet Hour”, Nayland Rock Hotel, Margate, 3 February to 11 March 2018, curated by Chiara Williams and Shaun Stamp. This is part of the “Journeys with The Waste Land” programme at Turner Contemporary, February 3- May 7 2018.

Our piece is a reference to Tiresias, the blind prophet and key voice in The Fire Sermon (section III of The Waste Land), whose gender changed on encountering mating snakes. The etymology of Thanet also has a serpentine connection: the 7th-century Archbishop Isidore of Seville recorded an apocryphal folk-etymology in which the island’s name is fancifully connected with the Greek word for death -Thanatos-stating that Thanet, “an island of the ocean separated from Britain by a narrow channel … [was] called Tanatos from the death of serpents; for while it has none of its own, soil taken from it to any place whatsoever kills snakes there.”

The installation comprises of hung rosemary, cast pewter snakes, a fertility stone, and a low table showing the remains of a burning ritual, installed as part of a shrine, together with a lumen print made on the terrace of the Nayland Rock Hotel in the light of the full -super- moon on January 31st 2018. It is in a sealed staircase and is entered by steeping through a threshold circle. On going up the stairs you have the rosemary on your side and confront the lumen print in front of you, with the ritualist remains and fertility stone below. On turning the staircase you see the blackened “altar” of pewter snakes with sea coal placed below.

This installation is deliberately dimly lit and as a consequence hard to represent photographically.

 

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