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A coloured drawing of a stone vessel. Figures of two helmeted men with beards fight one another on the front. One holds a sword and one a spear. The background is blue.

Martha Kelsey - Mirrors in Stone

Meadow Arts digital commission, 2021.

A drawing of a stone carved dragon, whose body is made of curlicues linked together. It is drawn in green and blue and yellow flames come from its mouth. The background is turquoise.

Martha Kelsey - Mirrors in Stone

Meadow Arts digital commission, 2021.

A drawing of a stone arch carving with a central throned figure holding a child, a bird on the right and a griffin on the left, surrounded by curlicues. The background is purple.

Martha Kelsey - Mirrors in Stone

Meadow Arts digital commission, 2021.

A coloured drawing of a stone vessel. Figures of two helmeted men with beards fight one another on the front. One holds a sword and one a spear. The background is blue.A drawing of a stone carved dragon, whose body is made of curlicues linked together. It is drawn in green and blue and yellow flames come from its mouth. The background is turquoise.A drawing of a stone arch carving with a central throned figure holding a child, a bird on the right and a griffin on the left, surrounded by curlicues. The background is purple.

Mirrors in Stone

For Mirrors in Stone, artist Martha Kelsey draws her inspiration from the mysterious and highly accomplished ancient stone carvings that emerged out of the Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture. She is particularly interested in those found in rural churches situated in the ‘Archenfield' - the ancient name for the shifting border between Herefordshire and Wales.

Kelsey has created digital drawings that reimagine and reanimate these stone sculptural forms in the contemporary and impermanent digital medium of GIF animations. “I hope that my animations will connect a 21st-century audience with their heritage, using these 900-year-old stone treasures to activate themes of conquest, identity and belief. The quick and simple animation format was an ideal way to give the archaic forms a brief, but playful flash of life — almost as if the stone had been lying dormant, waiting for a chance to show its mystery again using bytes and code, rather than stone and mortar!”

The artist has also created a map, which situates the churches containing the source inspiration, the sculptures the GIFs refer to. On the carvings, there are dragons and Sheela-na-gigs as well as Byzantine Christs and Templars, reminding us that there was another crusade happening when these carvings were made; one which saw Celtic lore and ‘Roman’ Christianity contend for popular following. The carvings embraced both sects and they speak of the amalgamation of customs this county and country hold.

 

Below, you can watch Martha's video introduction to Mirrors in Stone (view it on our YouTube channel for the fully subtitled version).

 

Martha Kelsey

Martha Kelsey trained at Bath Spa University, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in 2016. Since then she has been creating her own work and working as an assistant for other artists. She continues to develop her artist's practice, exploring the ghostly power and personalities of places visited across the UK and beyond.

Kelsey is interested in developing work inspired by churches in Herefordshire’s remote locations. For 2021 Meadow Arts commission, RURALities, she explored the mysterious ancient stone carvings in rural churches, especially those situated in the ‘Archenfield' (the ancient name for the shifting border between Herefordshire and Wales).

marthakelsey.co.uk

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