The Greek playwright Aeschylus places the Graeae and the Gorgons on Kisthene’s dreadful plain where ‘neither does the sun with his beams look down upon them, nor ever the nightly moon’*. In fact Weird Sisters never do belong in the community. They are banished from the kingdom to deserts and wastelands; living, like so many outcasts, beyond the pale. People have always preferred to banish 'monsters' and these times are no different to any other, look at Brexiteers' views on EU Freedom of Movement or the ideology of ISIS. It's hard to find any example of modern conflict that lacks the basic (and base) desire to cleanse territories of 'foreign' influences. It’s also hard on the level of the individual human body to find any example of modern concerns that don't equate non-standard appearance with monstrousness. (see January’s Blog).
There are ways of looking at and embracing our differences, which is fortunate considering fewer lives are devastated when we're guided by tolerance and inclusivity. It is in this spirit that I have begun a series of new drawings about the Weird Sisters of the plains, imagining them as whole people rather than symbols of all that is fearful, people who might from time to time want to visit new places and try new things. What, for example, might Medusa's first kiss look like? Or the Graeae's first trip to a nightclub?
I am, however, decidedly against moving Medusa and her sisters to the city full time. Psychologically, I don't believe wildernessess are places to avoid or to fear because they are where we exist undisguised, in all our uncertain vulnerability and individual truth. Perhaps in this series, the Belles will visit the outlands while the pariahs go to the ball... I'll keep you posted!
Incidentally, I wasn’t sure why I was drawing mythic monsters until I remembered something I read years ago by James Hillman. He describes wildernessess as places where ‘we never learn, cannot help, fall back to and cry from again and again’, as an essential (if uncomfortable) landscape of human experience.**
* Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound C5th B.C.
** James Hillman, Abandoning the Child, LOOSE ENDS, Spring Pubications, 1975
MEDUSA & her SISTERS
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