This series of layered digital prints on archival paper come from drawings created after planting an elder tree in the garden, thinking forward to a future ready supply of elder flowers and berries. I desire to evoke second century magic by layering over the words – abracadabra (I will create as I speak) written in the form of a triangle; I am making amulets to ward off disease even if Defoe scoffed at this symbolic practice applied to doors during the Great Plague of London! I’m trying to find ways to be playful with my fears of the continuing rise of Covid cases.
The elder is named after the matriarchal Scandinavian tree spirit Hylde-Moer – Mother Elder. A powerful potent pagan symbol that, of course, had negative Christian symbolism. According to folklore I could burn the wood to see the devil, as the sap and open structure of the branches makes it spit and scream when burning, but by planting one I ward off the devil. Once it is grown, I could carve a pipe to bring the faery folk to my door especially on Midsummers Eve, when the Faery King and Queen and their entourage pass by. If I sleep under it, I need to watch out for the mildly narcotic influence from its strong smelling leaves, that also repel flies and keeps milk from turning. I could hang bunches of its leaves in my studio doorway, as they have been hung in dairies, bakehouses and livestock barns to repeal diseases or make elderflower tea to potentially combat flu-like symptoms and sore throats, sounds like the perfect plant for these times.