'Cradle' & 'Gloom' - Mindfulness and Mortality


Braided Wool, Feathers, Chalk, chair, Bird Carcass


Chair, Hair, Black Wool

In December 2015, Ethan Dodd took part in '-exposure' a three long residency at The Abacus Gallery, Cardiff, culminating in a week long exhibition.

Within his studio work at the time, the artist had been focusing on tension and knots within wool and string. Through research, he came across an object utilised within witchcraft for luck and incantation purposes;  a ‘witch’s ladder’. The witch ladder is in it's most simplistic form, a ‘dark’ rosary, in the sense that it is made from braided cord or string, and instead of holding beads within it, it utilises feathers and/or bones and other materials woven into the single braid or plait. As the braid is woven, an incantation is told, and with each knot, energy from within the creator is passed into the ladder. Due to the imminent closure of the Abacus, the artist aimed to create a ‘shrine’ towards the abacus, utilising dead and energy laden materials to celebrate this aspect; although the materials are ‘dead’, their energy and influence still lives on, passing into the viewers own soul.

The artist said of the form upon the chair in 'Cradle'; 'The form at once reminded me of a trap or snare, as well as a nest; simultaneously harnessing the symbolism of constraint and comfort. The form, as it lays upon the chair, seems to ‘sit’ upon the chair, thus creating support for the structure, as well as adding a sense of domestic familiarity to the piece. Adding a chalk circle was prompted by my desire to ‘ground’ and localise the piece.'

'The ‘nest’ does hold pieces of a dead bird, as well as the feathers, harnessing the potential found within the bird’s dead form, and has not been lost. Returning to ideas explored in past workfocusing on birds as conduits for transcendence from one plane to another; the tangled mess symbolises the internal plight of the bird’s desire to escape, and the structure above the form, linked to the tangled nest, resembles a bird in flight.'

The artist On Gloom;

'I created this artwork from an image that has been appearing within my mind’s eye for a while. As the other piece, ‘Cradle’, was inspired by witchcraft, I sought to create another piece which referenced ‘black magic'. There is almost a resemblance to smoke within the form, as it falls and seemingly floats ‘downwards’, meant to resemble the way that a ‘spell of gloom’ falls down and blanket’s someone’s mind and emotional state. Relating to this, it also takes inspiration from the shape of neurons within the brain; as the black arts was considered to be related to expanding intelligence. As with Sigils, and the fact that some say that they are a precursor to A.I. (due to the notion of demons being summoned as an extension of the summoner’s own intelligence, as well as granting a heightened intelligence to the summoner through their otherworldly knowledge and experience) witchcraft explored the aspects of the mind, and how it can be expanded, as well as harnessed, to utilise magic from within the caster’s soul. The chair adds familiarity (once more), as well as allowing the viewer to sit under the ‘gloom’ and ruminate upon it’s almost intrusive nature.