On certain days and nights she anoints a staff and rides | Ann Shelton
On certain days or nights she anoints a staff and rides (Brugmansia, Angels Trum-pet, Snowy Angel’s Trumpet, Angel's Tears, Datura [misleading]). 2022-ongoing
This work references witches’ ointments or “flying ointments” believed to be made from plants containing powerful alkaloids, which were applied to the labia and to other parts of the body as part of rituals. It is understood that the ointments produced a bodily experience of flying. The Brugmansia plant is, of course, arranged as a witch’s broom poised and ready to take flight. The title for this work is taken from fifteenth-century records of Jordanes de Bergamo.
“In rifleing the closet of the ladie, they found a pipe of oyntment, wherewith she greased a staffe, upon which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin.” - 1324 investigation of the alleged witch Lady Alice Kyteler, in Murder, Magic and Medicine by John Mann.
This work and other images in the exhibition feature suspended plant material referencing the phenomenon of the flying witch and the practice of hanging, a means by which women accused of witchcraft were executed. Visually these images attempt to connect us to historical focal points in a timeline of the encroachment of women’s authorship to moments that highlight and signal the subjection of women’s gender roles and physical bodies.