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Sköll (Repulsion) I , 2010, Stuart Patience

Landscape and Myth

Mysticism, pagan superstition and Greek mythology come under the microscope in a wildly imaginative group show

This week, Kingly Court gets mystical, with Daisy MacDonald curating her very first show. Landscape And Myth features work from eleven emerging artists, all of whom have produced work across a variety of mediums that address themes of mysticism, superstition and mythological belief. Dazed Digital got involved in a tryst with Daisy to find out more about this magical event...

Dazed Digital: How did the idea for the exhibition come about? Was it your own concept or a collective decision?

Daisy MacDonald: Well, it was my instigation, but it was basically knowing a few of the artists from my college and knowing that their work was based around these themes and that they would fit. A collective interest in the occult and landscape theme was what brought it all together. Also, there seems to be a certain trend to re-create 60s and 70s-inspired art at the moment, which is another area I wanted to explore. Artists from those eras have recently enjoyed a revival – Kenneth Anger, Anna Mendiata and Derek Jarman.  

DD: The exhibition encompasses many different mediums to explore the theme of landscape and myth, how did 
Daisy MacDonald: There are two super 8mm films, which were very inspired by Kenneth Anger, which also seemed to work really well within the chosen theme. It’s very grainy and really compliments the idea of mysticism and myth. We also had textile designers, fine artists and illustrators, and that has really given the exhibition scope.

DD: One of your own pieces explores Greek mythology. What attracted you to the story of Medusa?

Daisy MacDonald: The traditional story of Medusa is amazing but we decided to put it into a completely different context. We placed it into the English countryside, and filmed it in a slightly fairytale way. It was inspired a lot by traditional horror movies and we made her character a much more empowered individual compared with the stereotypical portrayal of Medusa. If you actually read the old story she was a beautiful nymph before she was raped by one of the Gods which turned her into a Gorgon. So because of him, she becomes this terrifying monster, which is something we wanted to pick up on. The piece is a feminist commentary on the myth and I wanted to turn the story on its head by portraying her as a victim.

DD: Do you think that the exhibition comments on the contest between this mystic world and modern reality? 

Daisy MacDonald: Definitely. Sonke Faltien, for example, contrasts the sacred landscape of the pyramids with the ever invasive development of the ring-road in Giza. I chose to include his work because it is quite political and comments on the pervasive nature of the urban world. It is certainly a theme that I am very interested in, and Sonke’s work is the most obvious case that contrasts these two themes, it really epitomises the struggle between mysticism and modernity. It’s the idea that certain traditions and ideas and mysticism may be destroyed by technical advances. The Heritage Foundation said the ring-road couldn’t go ahead but people are still driving across the desert and making their own roads, so that slowly the city is infiltrating the sacred ground and the history of the pyramids. You can’t really stop scientific progression. It’s a conflict to try to preserve history and also to develop as a modern world, to try and create a balance.

DD: You seem to have a lot of natural and almost pagan-like imagery in the exhibition...

Daisy MacDonald: I think that the natural world and myth is so relevant for today, especially as there seems to be so much technology around – everything is being consumed by technology. In response, you have to create a fantasy world. In the 70s everyone was so hippyish and into the landscape and the natural world, and now it seems to have come back again but in a slightly darker, perhaps more sinister way.

DD: Would you say that the world of myth and mysticism acts as a sort of escapism for the artists in the collective, or for people in today’s society? 

Daisy MacDonald: I think when you are in the city and everything feels crowded and quite grey and boring, it is good to think of the past and look back into ancient tradition and things that could be magical or mystical. I think it is inspiring to an artist, or anyone. That’s why people want to believe in palm reading or ouija boards. I think they provide a purpose for some people to escape and learn about themselves. For example, when reading Tarot, people think spirits are answering your questions but you are really exploring yourself and answering yourself. And because people do not seem to be as religion driven today, these things help them. Myth and modern reality seem so far apart, but it’s all about connecting the history and learning about how myth is interlinked into today’s society. Tredwells, the bookshop, has all these amazing magical books and mystical writings, which is right in the centre of London. It seems apart from the reality of today but it is still so steeped in all the streets and history of the city.

DD: So, what’s next for you?

Daisy MacDonald: I’m going to India and making more super 8 and film around the theme of mummification!

Landscape And Myth runs at Kingly Court until April 13