Covid Amulet

Covid Amulet

At the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak there was a palpable sense of panic, people were stockpiling toilet roll, food, hand sanitiser and pain relief. We were repeatedly told to wash our hands, the best defence against catching and passing the virus on. This led me to consider how people would have managed during previous outbreaks of deadly pathogens in a time when advanced medical help was unavailable.

‘The Black Death gave impetus to hand-production of plague amulets offering divine protection and supernatural healing’[1] 

I have for years been fascinated with amulets, votives and talisman’s as assumed protection against disease and pestilence. Medicine has moved forward profoundly since the Black Death but even now, in the 21st Century, society can are still be debilitated by a ‘dreaded disease’. Had bars of soap and hand sanitiser become the modern-day protection equivalent?

As an artist I collect items of interest, I have drawers full of materials and odd objects kept ‘just in case’. I looked at what I had and begun to think about the connections with what I was witnessing, I wanted to create an artistic response and it was the idea of amulets that started to develop from a small china dolls hand that I had. By making a rubber mould of it I was able to make cast replicas in glycerine soap. These small hands cast in soap remind us of the key message of hand washing during the outbreak but have sense of precious protection. The colour of the soap resembles amber which is often carried for protection and is thought to eliminate fear.  Will this protect us? No, but Facebook wouldn’t list it for a while because they thought I was selling a cure! In this difficult time art allows us new ways to consider things and is perhaps a token to remind us of the time in years to come.
Artist Katie Taylor is a contemporary sculptural installation artist based in Oxford, UK. She has a first class degree in Textiles and an MFA from Oxford Brookes University. Fascinated with exploring our place in the world, the fragility of life and death and the precariousness of our existence, often using history and historical research as a basis within her work. You can purchase a limited edition Covid Amulet via Katie’s website.


[1] Deciphering a central European plague amulet. Blog available here

Divided

‘Divided’ explores ideas of borders and boundaries as a place of conflict. Separated bones metaphorically reference ideas of unidentified human remains at borders but also other bounded lines, life/death, free movement / restriction, knowledge / ignorance. The felted wool references bone but made from wool they allude to the outside of the body. Lamb casing threads join the separated bones, made from intestines these reference skin, playing with ideas of being inside out or outside in.

Reconcile

I have referenced the act of making clothing. Memories of the clothes made that now act as a form of identification. The empty space within the fabric and the pattern piece, together act as a way of confirming an identification, rather like the matching of DNA.

The trouser leg pattern piece here was dyed with mugwort, partly to visually imply exhumation from the ground but also as a reference to the fact that forensic anthropologist Margaret Cox discovered that mugwort flourished on mass graves in Kosovo.

ReGroup

During conflict remains are not often found complete.

Fragile memory held within remains enable forensic teams to identify individuals after atrocity.

Skin is a border that protects us but isn’t always able to, just as borders between countries.

Abscission

Encapsulating the moment of death in the minds of survivors, an imagined memory.

Lead casts of the empty space left after the impact of a bullet hang over the grave. Disjointed awkward bodies lie beneath.

Weeds grow as a marker, a reminder of the continuation of life and a reminder that history can be forgotten.

Heartland I & II

Casts taken from the inner space of the heart. A space that cannot be seen in life. They look like bone fragments but is unclear what they are or where they are from. They allude to land boundaries with topographical landscapes that touch upon the idea of boundaries and borders. Residual colouration adds a visceral edge.

8372 Cards

8372 cards Memorial art project by artist Katie Taylor

8372 cards memorial is a participatory art project created to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Between 1991 and 1999 war broke out across the former Yugoslavia. Thousands of people were killed and many more were internally displaced or forcibly expelled from their countries. During 1995 in Srebrenica 8,372 mostly men and boys were systematically murdered and buried in mass graves. The victims, predominantly Muslim, were selected for death on the basis of their identity. This was the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

8372 cards memorial

For this project 8372 business cards were printed, each one representing each of the men and boys killed during the srebrenica genocide. Business cards represent identity, status and the ability to make contact, many of those who died still remain missing.

Individually numbered with an automatic stamp each card retains an identity without being named. Volunteers were asked to participate in this process. Numbering was an important part of the piece of work. It conceptually represents the condemnation of each of the individual victims and the process engaged each volunteer to directly consider more deeply the events and actions of 23 years ago.

“I had a sense of the gravity of what happened 23 years ago whilst numbering the cards. Having numbered 200 cards, the enormity of 8372 truly hit me.”


8372 Cards Memorial Numbering events

Held at Magdalen Road Studios

“It was a very moving experience that effected me deeply.”

Held at OVADA Oxford Visual Arts Development Agency

“The systematic rhythm of numbering felt very cold, I considered who these people were with each card I stamped.”

Filmed at OVADA

Held at Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre in Oxford

“I realized that the sound of numbering was very reminiscent of gun fire”

Hear the sound file here:


Oxford Town Hall exhibition

All of the cards are being exhibited in the entrance of Oxford Town Hall until 16th July 2018. From the 11th July the cards will be uncovered and it will be possible to take one, metaphorically exhuming each of the individuals and acknowledging their existence.

This is an act of remembrance that will help to raise awareness and remind us all of the consequences of hate.

On 11th July the display case was opened making the cards available to take.

Oxford Town Hall Memorial service

Press coverage

Radio Sarajevo 6th July 2018

Oxford Mail 21st June 2018

Oxford Mail 4th July 2018

Press Release

This project has been supported by Oxford City Council.

Proudly supported by Oxford City Council

Lie Down

Lie Down Art exploring Bosnian war
Lie Down Art exploring Bosnian war

During the beginning stages of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, many Bosnian Muslims were required to wear a white arm band and hang a white flag/sheet on their houses to set them apart from their neighbours. This piece of work is made from strips of white sheets and tablecloths to directly reference this.

Muslim men from women were later separated, boys were often selected and separated based on their height. Boys smaller than 150cm were allowed to remain with their mothers whilst those above 150cm had to leave with their fathers and were certainly sent to their death. This piece of work is hung at exactly 150cm.

The lower section of the work is naturally dyed in coffee. Coffee is a strong symbol of community in Bosnia and Herzegovina . Before the war, citizens would all drink coffee together whether Muslim, Serb or Croat. After the war many Bosnian Muslims attempted to move back to their homes, only to find another family had moved in. They were often offered coffee in their own cups.

The piece of work is the width of human body and extends onto the floor referencing burial / mass graves / shrouds and death. It is titled ‘Lie Down’, the last words spoken to many, before being shot.

During the discovery of mass graves and the search for individual identity within them, Forensic teams exhumed cloth ligatures and blindfolds across all of the mass grave sites at Srebrenica. These ligatures and blind folds were often from the same fabric source and this evidence was used during the Hague trials to show a level of organization and proof of Genocide. All the strips of cloth here are tied as if used for this purpose.

The process behind this work:

Exhibited

Evaporate

Evaporate – textile art that explores loss. Singularly alone, the feeling of loss – lonely, empty, bleak and tearful. Evaporation also reminds us of the soul leaving the body and rising. Atoms that make us cannot be created, changed or destroyed. Like salt crystals our loved ones continue to exist but in a different form.

Evaporate was created as part of a body of work that was exhibited at The Crypt Gallery, London.

knitted wool, alum salt, food colouring

Sum

Installation art about death, Sum explores identity and individuality within a mass grave. Mass graves contain the remains of many individuals each with their own memories and individuality. Research in forensic anthropology and it’s use to determine individuals has been the inspiration for this work. Genocide atrocities are perpetuated through history in an endless cycle, and is represented here by a fibre optic circle that contains the empty vessels.

Sum was created as part of a body of work that was exhibited at The Crypt Gallery, London

ceramic, beef casing,and fibre optic