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A young woman with a dark brown complexion and black afro hair stands at a bus stop, next to a road with houses on. The woman is inside a frame supporting a hobby horse, which has a purple plastic head and a long blonde mane. The woman holds a staff with colourful circular symbols at the top and a hand with the forefinger and little finger pointing upwards. White text overlaid reads, 'What care I for your gold and silver?'

Lucy Wright - Plough Witches

Meadow Arts digital commission, 2021.

An older woman with short, light coloured hair stands as if ready to fight. In her hand she has a staff topped with a red rectangle, with silver strands hanging from it, and the other hand holds up a pink coated sword. Behind her are pink toned woods, an illustrted pink dragon, an emoji with 'x' eyes. White text reads 'My head is made of beaten brass; no man can make me feel'.

Lucy Wright - Plough Witches

Meadow Arts digital commission, 2021.

A female-presenting person in a dark dress with a paper collar and a tall, coned paper hat stands in front of a dilapidated metal roofed barn, in a field. The figure holds a yellow ladle and has a neon yellow shadow. A pink drawing of a face, outlined in yellow hovers in the centre and an emoji moon hangs in the sky. White text reads 'Till I can get better or new I take the world as I find it'.

Lucy Wright - Plough Witches

Meadow Arts digital commission, 2021.

A young woman with a dark brown complexion and black afro hair stands at a bus stop, next to a road with houses on. The woman is inside a frame supporting a hobby horse, which has a purple plastic head and a long blonde mane. The woman holds a staff with colourful circular symbols at the top and a hand with the forefinger and little finger pointing upwards. White text overlaid reads, 'What care I for your gold and silver?'An older woman with short, light coloured hair stands as if ready to fight. In her hand she has a staff topped with a red rectangle, with silver strands hanging from it, and the other hand holds up a pink coated sword. Behind her are pink toned woods, an illustrted pink dragon, an emoji with 'x' eyes. White text reads 'My head is made of beaten brass; no man can make me feel'.A female-presenting person in a dark dress with a paper collar and a tall, coned paper hat stands in front of a dilapidated metal roofed barn, in a field. The figure holds a yellow ladle and has a neon yellow shadow. A pink drawing of a face, outlined in yellow hovers in the centre and an emoji moon hangs in the sky. White text reads 'Till I can get better or new I take the world as I find it'.

Plough Witches

The role of women and non-binary people has long been marginalised in the English traditional arts, creating a canon of performances—and with it, an ideal of nationhood—that is strongly male-identified. Historically plough plays (also known as “mummers’ plays”) were informal and pantomime-like, performed by amateur actors, depicting a stylised battle of good versus evil—but in most instances, women were not permitted to take part.

"The cast for Plough Witches—a group of 6 women and non-binary people—was drawn from across the county, and shooting took place in meaningful locations, from Clee Hill to Mitchell’s Fold. Props included painted wooden swords, a golden ladle and a purple latex-clad hobby-horse, a direct replica of one on display at North Lincolnshire Museum.

The resultant images are character studies, individual portraits of costumed players alone in the landscape, embodying the role of combatants, recruiting sergeant, doctor, devil and mother. These were digitally manipulated and animated, alongside illustrations of pieces from the Shropshire Museum collection, which speak in some way to aspects of rural life, gender and womanhood" - Lucy Wright

Lucy Wright

Artist and researcher, Lucy Wright lives in an agricultural community in West Yorkshire and makes work responding to rural themes. Growing up in a working-class family in rural Lincolnshire, her practice has long been concerned with exploring and re-imagining historical ‘folk’ practices to better represent contemporary societal makeup and challenging limiting stereotypes about rural communities.

Much of Wright's work has sought to address the under-representation of women, for example celebrating the threatened ecological handicraft of ‘harestailing’ (Jersey Heritage), the female-led history of carnival morris dancing (EFDSS / Airspace Gallery) and the short-lived popularity of ‘hand-blinging’ (Bank Street Arts).

Lucy Wright heads the Social Art Library for Axis, a project to build the first artist-led archive and resource bank for and about socially engaged practice. She has explored the intersections of social art and ethnography, publishing her first book, 21st Century Folk Art: Social art and/as research, in 2019. She writes articles and book chapters, and has co-authored two reports, Beyond the Gallery (2015) and From Network to Meshwork (2020) with Amanda Ravetz. Wright edits Social Works? Open journal and is a co-founder of Social Art Publications, the publishing wing of the artist-led group Social Art Network.

www.artistic-researcher.co.uk

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