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Holding Shards, 2024 by Holly Slingsby

Curated Selection: Ritual Objects

Inspired by our upcoming talk with Hanna Tuulikki, this week's Curated Selection focusses on artists who have explored ritual objects as part of their practice. Featuring: Helen Snell, Alexis Rago, Brighid Black, Tony Humbleyard and Holly Slingsby

Stigmata Forks, Stoke Sub Hamdon Priory, 2015

Helen Snell

Stigmata Forks, Stoke Sub Hamdon Priory, 2015 by Helen Snell


The large tithe barn within The Priory complex, a rare and unique group of medieval domestic and agricultural buildings, was the focus of this contemporary craft project. The title ‘Gather-ing’ references the function of a barn as a space to collect/bring/gather people, animals and crops, as well as a symbolic meeting place to gather for ritual celebration. Curated by Craftspace, artists Stewart Easton , Jacky Oliver, Helen Snell and Gillian Widden were commissioned to make new work made in response to the site. Part of Somerset Art Works’ creative programme Momentum, funded by Arts Council England Lottery Funding. I wanted to explore the underlying tensions and contradictions between pagan and Christian rituals surrounding fertility, sex, birth and harvest. The relationship between the ten forks is inspired by notions of social and moral hierarchies, each farm giving a tenth of their produce to the Church in a material and spiritual exchange.


Ritual Vessel, 2017

Alexis Rago

Ritual Vessel, 2017 by Alexis Rago


Terracotta. Ht 34cm. 2016/17 work in progress. Hand built form, one of a series of works exploring the vessel as a signifier.


Singing Over the Bones, 2020

Brighid Black

Singing Over the Bones, 2020 by Brighid Black


Performance at Baltic 39 Experimental Studio in March 2020, involving stones, sound-producing found objects, the human voice and image projection. This performance was an experiment in placing objects (stones), from a particular rural environment, in an urban artspace, and by doing so, extending the relational field in which they operate. The ritual of placing the stones, speaking and singing the names of flora and fauna of the area, and appealing to a guardian spirit of place from local folklore, was completed by those taking part banging and rattling noise-producing objects; tin cans, shells and a plastic bucket. It was important for everyone there to handle one of the stones, making a physical connection with the stream and wider environment where they were found. The weaving together of the human voice with the sounds and tactility of objects, formed a multisensory, incantatory spiral of appearances, manifesting visually through the stones on the floor. A still image of the sky from the entrance to the cave where the spirit (Hobthrush) is said to dwell, was projected in the recess behind parted blackout curtains, forming another connection with the actual site. The stones were subsequently returned to the stream, connecting the performance back to the running water and wider landscape of their origin. The Experimental Studio provided the space and technical support to enable this exploratory performance that developed as part of a series of works made at archaeological sites, on Orkney and in Teesdale in the North Pennines. The performance Singing Over the Bones was part of the practice-based research element of my Master of Research project undertaken at Northumbria University.


Augury, 2011

Tony Humbleyard

Augury, 2011 by Tony Humbleyard


Reclaimed lead casting of found machinery and lambs vertebra. our ability to understand the continuities and patterns of the past shape our ability to adapt to the present. This process of adaption will define the anthropocene age. humans have always attempted to divine the future , casting animal bones, observing the flight of birds, making economic forecasts, unearthing artifacts.


Holding Shards, 2024

Holly Slingsby

Holding Shards, 2024 by Holly Slingsby


Holding Shards is a performance-to-camera video work exploring iconoclasm, loss, and the hope of transformation. The protagonist is a smashed stained-glass saint, who performs gestures of tenderness, lament and wonder. Filmed on location primarily in Wales, the work takes the viewer into places of ritual and regrowth.


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