The Witches was the first joyous, frantic and slightly odd collaboration between writer Ed Garland, sculptor Tom Hare, photographer Anthony Saint James, and myself. It was exhibited at three locations: globally-renowned ad agency TBWA's ecclesiastical premises in Manchester; Eastgallery, Brick Lane, London, and in our own Factoryroad Gallery.
Drawing inspiration from only two things - Olive Wendell Holmes' famous poem, and the discovery that the words 'Wicca, Wicker and Witch' share the same origin - 'to bend to one's will' - the project is a freestyle collection of visual responses to the written confessions of the imaginary modern-day Pendle Witches...who all came back.
Look out! Look out, boys! Clear the track!
The witches are here! They've all come back!
They hanged them high,--No use! No use!
What cares a witch for the hangman's noose?
They buried them deep, but they wouldn't lie still,
For cats and witches are hard to kill;
They swore they shouldn't and wouldn't die,--
Books said they did, but they lie! they lie!
The project has its roots in one of the murkier stories from real English history. In 1612 thirteen people, two men and eleven women from two warring families, were convicted of witchcraft at Lancaster gaol. Ten were hung, three imprisoned, and they included a nine-year-old girl. Even a dog was accused of taking part.
They were alleged to have been responsible for the murder by witchcraft of seventeen people in and around the forest of Pendle. For reasons no-one has ever really understood, they all confessed: without torture or other means of extraction, they simply told of their witchcraft quite voluntarily, and appeared to believe in their guilt, and that of their friends and family, without question.
But before confessing themselves, they first incriminated eachother. This project asked what would it look like if the same witches came back today, just to repeat their behaviour all over again. You can read their modern-day confessions, as re-imagined by Ed, at the bottom of this page.
The myriad final pieces incorporated illustration, lettering, built pieces, photography, tattoos, sound, and even an experiment played out live on early social media .
Our music on the night was provided by Sean Canty aka Demdike Stare (named for one of the Witches).
Our ales were provided by Moorhouses Brewery, based at the foot of Pendle Hill itself, who sent a plentiful supply of Pendle Witches Brew.