The good order of early industrial pre-Enlightenment Scotland was undermined by waves of panic about witchcraft, exploiting superstition to suppress the self-empowerment of the tenured labourers. The strange netherworld of these "killing times", is often treated as merely a quaint throwback in Scottish history, but its exploration may help in understanding the social mechanisms which continue to exploit the vulnerable today.
Three years of extensive research into the Witchcraft Trials which rocked early industrial pre-Enlightenment Scotland has taken artist Karen Strang into field trips to locations from the unearthed records of the Trials between the Forth and Glendevon. The strange netherworld of these "killing times", when witchcraft panic was exploited against the self-empowerment of the tenured labourers, is often dismissed as a mere superstitious throwback in Scottish history, but its exploration may help in understanding the social mechanisms which continue to exploit the vulnerable today. In this exhibition, the factual records have inspired plein air landscapes of ancient sacred sites and a series of large oil paintings expressing the psychological effects and fears of the accused and the accusers.
This exhibition explored the development of the settlements at the centre of these trials with collaborative displays of artefacts from witchcraft historians, poet Katharine Macfarlane and a specially commissioned sound work by sound engineer Peter Drysdale.
Exhibition review by Clare Henry in Artlyst (5 March 2018)
Exhibition review by Jan Patience in Herald Scotland (10 March 2018)
Edited discussion extract in The National (26 March 2018)
Exhibition review by Eileen Reid in Scottish Review (6 June 2018)