Bones and skulls are, unsurprisingly, objects that have much symbolism and significance attached to them. Whilst some people find bones macabre, in many cultures they are more likely to be associated with life than death with some people believing they are the ‘seat of the vital principle or soul’. They have been thought to have mystic powers and have been used for cure, divination and rituals associated with birth and rebirth. In many societies bones are preserved after death and treated with special care, often given a special burial or displayed as objects of worship.
It is not only human bones that have become sacred but also those of certain animals. Specific species are venerated in different cultures where they might be used for divination or in shamanic rituals. Animal bones have also become part of costumes and headdresses worn to reanimate the bones and imbue the wearer with the animal’s characteristics or powers.
The importance and power of bones has much to do with their longevity. When all other traces have disappeared, bones remain and in these bones we find traces of the being that once lived.
We three have been meeting monthly for a while, discussing what we collect and what influence it has on our work and how we might be able to collaborate together.
We've discussed working on one piece together or one of us starting a piece and others adding to it - and whilst that still might be part of our process we've intially come up with something that we all have and are all interested in as the basis for new individual work. These are hagstones.
Hagstones are stones with holes in them. They are things that are collected all over the world and go by different names in different places, but in Yorkshire they're hagstones. It's said you can see another world in them if you look through the hole, they are somehow rare and special. In Yorkshire they are often hung outside the back door to keep away evil spirits. Stories go back to druidical times and in Welsh folklore about hagstones power. They are somehow difficult to leave if you find one on a walk and all of us have at least a couple at home.