May Day celebrations are historically routed in the psyche of the
British Isles. The Rites of Spring, opening on May 1st, presents work that reflects on the customs, ceremonies and meanings surrounding this institution.
Traditionally the origins of May Day, and the eve before, were given over to revelry and sexual desires, as an invocation of fertility, death and renewal. Jayne Eagle’s installations and sculpture consists of these notions reflecting on the folklore and mythological aspects surrounding them. Customary objects are used within the pieces, such as the Hawthorn tree, specifically chosen for its symbolic legacy. Besides being the tree of choice from which the maypole was cut, it has often been linked to fertility, and has carried a duality of sexual associations from abandonment to the tree of chastity. Informed by ideas of the Uncanny and imagery from Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man, the work draws upon the familiar whilst containing the unexpected.
Alice White works in the realms where pagan beliefs give way to a wistful, more idealised May Day, with children’s parades and young May Queens. Imagery taken from nostalgic May Days in
, she focuses on the background children, the losers, the smiles of disappointment. Working with household gloss paints in pastel shades, saccharine disenchantments are reflected upon. This supposedly idyllic, childhood moment containing the rites of passage, it is a fairy tale of flowers, dresses and parties of which all little girls dream… but not every little girl will be a queen England
Alice White And Jayne Eagle