Death Shrine To The Holy Whore, Part 4 - Meta.Morf Trondheim art biennale, Norway
“Life is too short to care what other people think about you or your work.”
The first time I meet Angela Edwards is in London earlier this year. We are both participating in an esoteric art event, which is taking place inside an old tower that once used to be a church. In the top floor of this tower Angela has built a bizarre altar to Pomba Gira. Whoever makes it up here, is confronted with a highly controversial set-up.
Esoteric art exhibition and talk event, St. Augustine's, London Hackney, 21st - 23rd of March 2014
This was an unusual art exhibition as well as an unusual occult gathering. This event was different in a number of ways. It was also a personal challenge.
If you would have asked me two weeks earlier about going to London and exhibiting my art there, I would have declared you insane. But it happened. All my concerns, about lacking the funds, health, whatever, and other obstacles magically vanished, just one week before eventually embarking on my journey to London. It would be the first time in seven years.
It felt like a tip on my shoulder, followed by a physical and mental boost. The next few days I was like a maniac, preparing prints, packing art, clothes etc. Everything had to fit into a board case. The woman at the print shop became my best friend. I booked the flights last minute and eventually, after days and nights of no-sleep and few hours of rest, I found myself on the bus to Berlin airport, feeling lucid yet focused, constantly going up and down mental check lists.
“A tower of an event…”
The tower usually evokes a dark and fearsome image. However, my journey went smoothly. When I say smoothly, I mean everything worked out perfectly. I was on time, did not forget a thing, did not loose anything, flights, buses, trains – whatever was needed to get to the place did not let me down. If I was lost for the way, people helped me find it. I was met with so much friendliness that I eventually started wondering whether any of this was real.
“A circular gathering…”
It is the day of the vernal equinox. When I arrive at Andrea Kundry’s place, the other guests are already involved in animated conversation. I know noone and expect to be plutoed as the ‘German girl’. Instead I am welcomed warmly and find myself instantly involved in creatively engaged talk. It is Charlotte Rodgers who takes the initiative; Glen Tomney and Roberto Migliussi join and a couple of minutes later we are talking art and meanings. It will continue throughout the event.
We have no time to loose and soon head straight to the location: St. Augustine’s tower appears as a solitary monument in the middle of London Hackney, medieval and out of place looking, reminding indeed of the tower tarot card. At the entrance, which is locked, we meet a little woman named Paula, who is dressed in hippie apparel. By little, I mean that she is maybe less than 5 feet tall. She has come here for the equinox and to light a candle in front of the tower, which she explains, is situated on the same ley-line as Stonehenge. She also tells us the tower was the oldest church tower of entire Britain and twelve monks had committed mutual suicide in this building. Her words sound like the perfect initiation into the event.
Unlocking the gate, we promise Paula to leave her candle burn, even though I wonder how any candle would remain lit under these conditions. This equinox comes rather as a late come-back of winter than a warm spring beginning.
Then we entered…
The tower’s inside is flooded with day light, shining through tall Gothic windows, illuminating layers of dust collected on cobwebs and the various artworks positioned on tables and hung on wire threads. In one corner, covering a wooden balustrade, hangs resplendent the large image of a black devil dancing on skulls and sticking out its tongue. It is painted by Dolorosa de la Cruz.
Passing art by Andrea Kundry and intricate sculptures by Charlotte Rodgers, we proceed up a narrow stairway and enter a small room that houses the tower’s clockwork. A reproduction of Amodali Zain’s iconic work is arranged alongside miniature paintings by Jezebel Halewood-Leagas, to be joined by various drawings and a goblin-themed assembly by Glen Tomney. In the same room I am later also setting up my long exposure nature photographs.
Crossing a small wooden bridge, we enter a second room with animal sculptures by Charlotte Rodgers. The iridescent black feathers of a winged corvid creature refract the daylight into its single parts. The bird resides over the talks, meditations and musical evenings taking place here.
We climb up to the last floor, the tower’s attic. In a dark corner presents itself an enormous vulvic shrine dedicated to Pomba-Gira. It consists of multiple ceramic and paper pieces, all created and set up by Angela Edwards. Two visitors are leaning thoughtfully over the installation. Later there will be Christian visitors inspecting the tower and wondering about the unusual happening and they will be shocked and confused by Angela’s work. But even esoteric folks visiting the tower for the exhibition will react ambiguous and unable relating to the presentation. It is the first time for me getting to know Angela and her work, and I too have to sort my feelings in regards to its provocative and violent yet strangely beautiful and enigmatic forms. I shall learn later, how much substance there is to it. Angela provides the viewer with candles and incense for paying respect to the spirits. So I light some, the rest remains an inner dialogue. Later I will spend more time chatting with Angela and without knowing or deciding on it, we are to stay in touch for years to come.
The inside of the tower is cold, electricity is not working properly and there are few facilities for hanging up our work, as it is forbidden to hit nails into the walls of the historical building. But somehow we manage by improvising: arranging our works in window frames, underneath timber beams, at the edge of protruding wall stones and on the wooden doors encasing the clockwork. At night we light candles to illuminate our artworks. The natural light and warmth of the candles creates a special and beautiful atmosphere inside this unique location. After three days at the tower none of the pieces would feel quite the same. Amidst cobwebs and dust centuries old they become charged with the special vibes of the place.
The following day we are greeted with storm and hail whilst the sun keeps on shining, creating a twilight mood, which again reminds me of the imagery on the tarot tower card…
Below is the view from the tower’s entrance towards the churchyard with its old gravestones. Rooted directly in front of the tower is a beautiful majestic tree, looking all the more dramatic against the scenery in the sky formed by dark clouds, sunshine and hail. Beneath, see also a sandstone relief mounted at the left side of the tower’s entrance, showing three skulls with triple crossed bones, hourglass and dragon wings – a memento mori, representing mortality, evanescence and resurrection.
Saturday is full-packed with talks, meditations and musical performances. On top of a busy schedule, Andrea, the organizer herself continues feeling (and looking) ill, despite hoping for recovery until the very last minute. As she can not attend her own talk, she asks me to jump in. Suddenly I find myself in the unexpected situation of having to talk in front of a foreign audience, in a foreign language, who are expecting in depth info and insights about the very location of this event, St. Augustine’s. Instead I fill the spot with talk about memes, the symbolism of plants and drawing, handing around my sigil cards for inspired conversation. Somehow we manage and my Sigilla Magica gain the attention of the audience.
Saturday evening ends with a jam session by Roberto Migliussi (vocals), Chris Chibnall (theremin), Gavin Semple (guitar), Mark O Pilkington, Glen Tomney and Freya Black (magic flute). The tower provides amazing acoustics and so we sit there, chatting and listening to the wondrous vibrations.
On the last day it is time to pack and leave. We say goodbye, exchange contacts and return to our homes. Some people I meet throughout the event, are probably of high relevance within the London/UK esoteric scene. But my mind is already overwhelmed with new impressions and my journey is not over yet, as I am invited to check out two esoteric book stores. I need to catch my flight though and so there is only time left for one. We check out Watkins Books, recommended by Roberto Migliussi. I am impressed by the beauty of the place as well as the sheer amount of esoteric books on the shelves. I don’t think something similar exists in Germany. Roberto also purchases the very first of my sigil card sets and simultaneously entrusts me with the task of coming up with a better packaging for them.
I got in touch with CM about a year ago. Since then we exchanged messages, traded art-prints for seeds and figured it would be time for an interview.
Beside art, two topics are of major concern to CM – one are his plants and the other is his cat. Whereby the cat is of the greater importance and he often expresses fear of his cat suffering accidental poisoning via the venific green – the first of a row of conflicts that keep my interview-partner busy.