Started life as a theatrical mask, now a piece of sculpture. 37cm in diameter. ‘ Papier Machè’, Plywood, Acrylic Paint and Gold Leaf.
May 18th & 19th. For these two day I had a table full of masks at The Poppy and Pint.
Lots of lovely conversations about masks and peoples experiences of them, some performers but mainly from the point of view of witnesses of transformative events. The Venice Carnival came up a lot. Each day at lunchtime I did a walkabout through the main streets enjoying the public reactions to The Old Lady with her Boy in her Basket. Many people up for engaging with her and asking her questions she can answer by nodding yes or no. Some children had fun pretending to be frightened of her, but as they kept coming back for more they made their game clear.
Following the British Museum Exhibition of Scythian Art and Artefacts which I saw in 2017, I have been meaning to apply some of that inspiration to my mask work. I was particularly drawn to the painted funerary masks from the Oglakhty burial site. These extraordinary objects are still attached to the skulls of the individuals for whom they were made. The originals are made of gypsum. The mask of the woman, which is somewhat better preserved, has remained in my consciousness as an inspiration. I recently made a cast of an existing mask of a woman and then realised that there were some similarities between my mask and the Oglakhty mask. I have therefor tried to replicate the painted design from the ancient Scythian mask onto my contemporary version. They are not the same, my mask has the eyes open and the forehead finishes at a hairline rather than lapping over the cranium. The overall proportions are not quite the same.
I have had to improvise and make up details which I cannot see in the source images, especially as some area’s have been damaged. Painting this has given me a greater respect for the Scythian creators and their skill in making the original. I have at present left the paining in this bold state, rather than distress the paint-job to beautify and make it more acceptable to modern audiences. My instinct is to do some subtle shading to enhance the modelling and I am not sure I like my eye lid painting so I think that I will repaint them in the white. I have enjoyed the asymmetry of the design and applying it over the nearly symmetrical face. There is a hypothesis that the painting replicates a tattoo .
Is this character an Amazon, an ancient feminine warrior ? Certainly my original mask was intended to represent the strong mature woman. This being my version of the Artemis archetype (The Huntress).