Sunday, July 26, 2015

Witches and Witchlore: the Illustrations of Jos A. Smith

Do you remember (and love) Erica Jong's book Witches? Then you will probably want to visit the current exhibition showcasing the work of the book's illustrator, Jos A. Smith, at the Museum of Witchcraft

Jos A. Smith (b. 1936) has had a long and varied career as an artist and illustrator, most notably for Time, Newsweek and The New York Times. He has taught at New York’s prestigious Pratt Institute and has had over twenty solo exhibitions.

This exhibition at the Museum ofWitchcraft and Magic is the latest, showcasing his original artwork for the seminal [or perhaps we should say ovaric?] book, Witches by Erica Jong, first published in 1981. The exhibition is curated by Simon Costin, Director of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic and the Museum of British Folklore. It opened on May 16th 2015 and runs until November 2015. 

Jong's book, Witches, book charts the persecution of witches, through poetry, history and stories and also functions as a grimoire, or handbook for contemporary practitioners. Using pen, ink and watercolour, Jos A. Smith’s illustrations vividly explore all aspects of the various guises of the witch: from seductress to crone; perpetrator to victim. His skilled draughtsmanship reflects witchcraft’s connection to nature, with figures seamlessly blending into other forms, to create an otherworldly, eerie presence on the page. These images also express Jos’s own connection to nature through his study of esoteric religion and meditation, as he states: “I am fascinated by the lore that accrues to natural things...”

Displayed together for the first time at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, this is the inaugural exhibition in a planned new series of temporary shows to be hosted at the museum from Spring 2015. The newly refurbished temporary exhibition space will allow the museum to examine its rich and varied objects in more depth and will also feature exciting collaborations with artists and researchers. People will have something new to see at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic every time they visit, alongside the fascinating permanent collection.

Selected images are available for sale from the Museum's online shop as limited edition prints and high quality art cards. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is open until 31st October 2015. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10.30-6pm, Sunday 11.30-6pm Admisssion £5/£4. [Exhibition text by Desdemona McCannon from Manchester School of Art. Press release edited by Caroline Tully.] 

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