Amy Hey

2019, Wimbledon College of Art, UAL

"My practice is an exploration of the relationship between woman and nature through painting and drawing. By investigating and reinterpreting iconography associated with earth-based religions like Paganism, my work aims to promote a reassertion of women’s pre-historic ties with nature. My work has been influenced by texts such as The Great Cosmic Mother (Monica Sjoo) and Woman and Nature- The Roaring Inside Her (Susan Griffin). These texts primarily explore early women’s religion and matriarchal societies, and patriarchy’s role in the oppression of woman and nature.

 

Through my research, I began to question how imagery associated with authentic earth-based religion, and harmful archetypes of the witch, have become entwined through conventional cultural representations. I aim for my work to be a reminder of the patriarchal atrocities against women and the earth, serving as a memorial to the innocent women murdered during the witch hunts. I work with traditional methods of drawing and oil painting as I feel this best suit the organic ideas I explore, and screen printing has proven an effective method in producing a piece styled on a memorial wall. I use images of animal skulls in my paintings which have different symbolisms in natural magic and alchemy. I was inspired to do this by the book titled The Philosophy of Natural Magic by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, which explores magic, astrology, theurgy, medicine, and the specific occult properties of different plants, rocks, animals and metals. In reaction to recent events in Alabama, America, where new laws have been passed making it illegal for women to access safe abortion, my painting incorporates motifs of the flowers Deadly Nightshade and Common Rue, plants which have been used as natural abortifacients since medieval times. These would often be supplied by midwives and those who practised herbal medicine; these women were frequently targeted by the church and accused of witchcraft.

 

In doing so, I aim to highlight alarming similarities between the oppression of women in the witch trials and events happening in the world today. Alternative film and folk stories such as the Lars Von Trier’s The Antichrist and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain have also influenced the aesthetics of my paintings. Contextually, my work is heavily influenced by feminist artists involved in the 1970’s Goddess movement such as Ana Mendieta and Mary-Beth Edelson, as I am strongly invested in a reassertion of their philosophies of anti-violence against woman and the earth. By adopting the theologies of pre-historic matriarchal communities alongside iconography from esoteric religions, my work aims to promote an alternative feminist vision with greater historical context."

Altar For The Sacred Mother
Installation, 2019
Three canvasses: 200cmx70cm each.
Oil painting: Circle 200cm Diameter.

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