The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, October 1, 2022

Firstsite, Colchester opens a major exhibition by the artist susan pui san lok
Installation view, susan pui san lok, A Coven A Grove A Stand, 2019. Photo Douglas Atfield, Courtesy Firstsite.

COLCHESTER.- Firstsite, Colchester, is presenting A Coven A Grove A Stand, a major exhibition by the artist susan pui san lok. The installation explores the folklore surrounding witchcraft and the history of the witch persecutions across East Anglia in the 16th and 17th centuries, including the campaign led by Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled ‘Witchfinder General.’

Born in Suffolk and based in Manningtree, Hopkins operated across the East Anglia region between 1644 and 1646, and is believed to be have been responsible, along with John Stearne, for the execution of as many as 300 ‘witches’ – often single and elderly women. Many suspected witches were often imprisoned at Colchester Castle, just a stone’s throw from Firstsite. Hopkins is buried in an unmarked grave at St. Mary's Church in Mistley, Essex.

A Coven A Grove A Stand, a fluid project that the artist will continue to create during its run, interweaves and examines the narratives around these ‘witches’, exploring themes of voice, place and collective remembrance and resistance.

The exhibition opens with one hundred and ten names, handwritten by the artist in chalk onto black walls, which frame the entrance leading to the main gallery. Visitors are invited to participate in the recovery and remembrance of past victims by writing and repeating their names on the adjacent walls.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is an abstract structure, based on 3D-scans of ‘Old Knobbley’, an oak tree believed to be 800 years old that is situated in the woods around Mistley, where ‘witches’ were thought to have hidden from their persecutors. The 4-metre-high sculpture is assembled from recycled cardboard and set against a background of colour-tinted glass panels through which the circle of trees on the gallery’s front lawn can be seen. Evoking the symbols, sanctuaries, hearts and havens of witches, the title Sister O Sister (2018-19), is also a reference to Yoko Ono’s 1972 feminist anthem, Sisters O Sisters.

In the same space, Cruel Mothers is a sound installation that plays several versions of the folk song, Cruel Mother, echoing each other in a disjointed round, around the ‘tree’. Its lyrics are inscribed in chalk onto the wall, along with those of another folksong, Alison Gross / Alison Cross, juxtaposing familiar archetypal narratives of female sexuality, power, pain and violence. The voices of Cruel Mothers mingle with those of Seven Sisters, a sound and video loop in an adjacent gallery. Here, a circle of voices conjures the individuals who were accused and executed as witches into the present, while images circle a tree.

In the final gallery, two hundred ribbons hang from the ceiling for the unknown victims of persecution, while the far wall is adorned with intricately embroidered hoops for the named and documented victims. Each hoop has been embroidered by members of Colne & Colchester Embroiderers’ Guild, Stitch & Bitch Colchester, YAK – Young Art Kommunity and Colchester Bangladeshi Mohila Shomity. Through seeing, writing and hearing the names of the ‘witches’, visitors are invited to recognise the persecuted, then and now, and our collective power to remember and resist.

A Coven A Grove A Stand is part of New Geographies, a three year project which aims to create a new map of the East of England based on local reflections and stories of unexplored or overlooked places. As part of the project, the public was asked to nominate unexpected places in the region that they find meaningful and interesting. Over 270 sites were identified and ten artists, including susan pui san lok, were commissioned to highlight some of those places through new site-specific work. This combination of local knowledge and world-class art seeks to create a new vision of the East of England as a place to encounter excellent art in unexpected places.

Through the installation, susan pui san lok, who was born in Essex, responds to seven of the nominated sites. Sister O Sister draws on the form of ‘Old Knobbley’ and also references the tree known as ‘The Witches' Wooden Leg’ in the ruined Church of St. Mary’s of East Somerton, Norfolk. Other sites include Kitty Witches Row in Great Yarmouth, the Witch’s Heart in King’s Lynn’s Tuesday Marketplace and locations in St. Osyth and Manningtree in Essex.

Says Firstsite Director, Sally Shaw: ‘We are delighted to be staging this thought-provoking exhibition by susan pui san lok. In drawing on a particularly significant chapter of Essex’s history, it offers an opportunity to examine and reflect upon the inequalities in society, past and present, and in doing so, helps us to understand their legacies today so that together we can reduce their impact tomorrow.’

Today's News

February 19, 2019

Artemis Gallery to auction important classical antiquities, Asian and ethnographic art

Revolutionary Chagall offered at Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art Sale in London

The Albertina Museum opens exhibition of watercolors by Rudolf von Alt

Exhibition at Lower Belvedere explores female artists in Vienna from 1900 to 1938

Michael Hoppen Gallery exhibits legendary sports images shot by Gerry Cranham

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac opens the largest solo exhibition in the UK to date of the work of Erwin Wurm

The V&A acquires theatrical archive of Ivan Kyncl

The Sammlung Moderne Kunst opens exhibition of works by Franz Radziwill

Christie's announces the second edition of Masterpieces of Design and Photography

"Kissing sailor" in iconic NY picture dies age 95

Gagosian opens an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by John Currin

Forget Saoirse Ronan - this is what Mary, Queen of Scots really looked like

Rarer than a Sumatran rhino: a woman composer

Cultural exchange art exhibition on view at Fann A Porter gallery in Dubai

Exhibition of recent art from the Sigg Collection on view in Vienna

Exhibition explores and caricatures the alter ego of an artist

Leading London Silver dealer Koopman Rare Art announces TEFAF Maastricht 2019 highlights

Kunstverein in Hamburg opens an exhibition of works by Marguerite Humeau

Towner Art Gallery presents the UK debut of Carey Young's Palais de Justice

Firstsite, Colchester opens a major exhibition by the artist susan pui san lok

sepiaEYE opens its second solo exhibition of works by Beatrice Pediconi

H&H Classics honours Bentley 100 years on having sold nearly 400 classic Bentleys

'Being Japanese Canadian: Reflections on a broken world' opens at The Royal Ontario Museum

Gallery 16 opens second solo exhibition with Rebeca Bollinger

10 Tips for Picking Good Dating Profile Pictures

Kid-Friendly Places To Visit When You're Visiting Las Vegas

How to Choose the Best Casino Online

How to Know the Best UK Online Casino

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful