Archive for April, 2013


“Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”

PLACENTA ART & COOKERY

  Earth  Air  Fire  Water

 Self portrait of the archetypal image of Sheela-Na-Gig in B/W, Earth, Air, Fire & Water.

       

  A series of experiments completed during my artist’s residency at the NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012

During my time at the Nomadic Village 2012 I just happened to have a 13 week old placenta sat in the freezer.  An odd thing to have in the freezer?  Maybe – if you weren’t me, I guess.  Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it.  I wanted to create as many beautiful things from it as possible – before I ate it.

Eating placenta was something I found to be incredibly natural.  It is called Placentophagy and most mammals do it – are we really that different? Even herbivores eat theirs!  Apparently camels are the exception to the rule – perhaps they don’t like theirs covered in sand.

From a cruelty-free, veggie perspective – it’s the only piece of meat (save eating a surgically chopped-off bit) whose owner didn’t have to die first for it to be eaten!

The way we treat the placenta in the West is to incinerate it (and hospital maternity units don’t offer mothers the option to keep it), but there are other cultures in which it has a special place in rituals following a birth. It is common to use them in symbolic burials and tree planting.

The Chinese use it in traditional medicine and it’s growing in popularity to have it dried and encapsulated.  ‘Potential’ benefits of eating your placenta are:

  • Warding off postpartum depression.
  • Improving breast milk supply
  • Stimulating involution of the uterus
  • Increasing energy and even preventing aging
  • Postpartum hemorrhage

I could blab on and on about what I have read and learned about placentas, but I reckon I’ll save that for another blog!

I was too preoccupied after the birth to dig out and defrost my carefully stored placenta and cook it.  As I briefly mentioned, you can hire someone to dry it out and reform it into easy-to-swallow capsules, but I wanted to do more with it than that, so I left it there, among the bags of liquidized kale, yellow-label Tesco bargains and Suma nuts and seeds.

The opportunity arose when I was chosen to participate as a resident artist in the Nomadic Village project – ahhhh, enforced creativity time… I would never have prioritized this idea otherwise.

mobile exhibition space      

On one of those amazing hot sunny days, under our snow-cam, lean-to in the shade of our motor home I prepped a workspace for my, now defrosted, placenta.  Fellow nomadic sound artist Marek Gabrsych, recorded and documented the entire process from printing to fine-dining.

I did the following things on a large roll of wallpaper liner…

  1. Placenta Printing
  2. Painted Sheela-Na-Gig images with placenta blood and black food colouring
  3. Lino Prints
  4. Cured the Amniotic Sac that contained Max and stretched the skin
  5. Made the artistic piece, “A Womb With A View”
  6. Cooked the rest and shared the meal with my partner and four adventurous others!
  7. Had a lively discussion about eating placenta and cannibalism
  8. Retained the rest of the skin to make other things at a later date – including a pair of baby booties! I tried to crotchet a pair, but the pattern flummoxed me!

1.  Placenta Prints

Printing onto wallpaper lining using the blood in the amniotic sac. Nomadic Village 2012

 Without really doing much with the organ, I blotted it using the wallpaper liner spread before me.  I repeated the process, experimenting with positioning.  It was an amazing thing to play with.  The veins running through the skin made patterns like a road map, palm print and tree roots.  The flesh inside the bag was just like a sponge, in texture and function… it just kept on blotting!!

2.  Sheela-Na-Gig

Painting Sheela-Na-Gig using blood mixed with black food colouring. Nomadic Village 2012.

 The bowl within which the placenta had been defrosting was full of blood!  I experimented by painting with this blood and then mixing it with black food colouring – it applied like ink!  I repeatedly painted a stylized self portrait based on a Sheela-Na-Gig – an ancient and archetypal pre-Christian image of fertility.  I had a picture of this on the wall near my birthing pool to assist me through the first and second stages of labour.  It reminded me that women have been doing this for millennia and it ‘does stretch that much’!

 

3.  Lino Prints

Block printing using a lino tile and placenta blood. Nomadic Village 2012.

I then made some block prints using a lino tile I had cut just days before the birth.  The image was that of the Sheela-Na-Gig image that helped me through labour.  I made pencil rubbings of the tile and created thank-you cards for my ‘Blessingway Sisters’ who had nurtured me beautifully.

4.  Placenta Rawhide

Scraping the amniotic sac in prearation to make rawhide, Nomadic Village 2012

I skinned the placenta to remove the bag Max grew in.  I had a couple of shamanic drum hoops with me.  I figured that a bag containing a baby for nine months, kicking away had to be pretty strong!  I just hoped it could be stretched to cover a hoop!  Failing that, I could make a shamanic baby’s rattle!  And I could attach the rattlesnake’s tail I had brought back from the States during last year’s ‘Burning Man’ trip.

The skin was beautiful and heavily veined near the umbilical cord.  I could not seperate it in one large unbroken piece so ended up with three medium sized bits.  The skin wasn’t a single thickness either – it seemed to be made up of two layers.  It reminded me of the construction of ply-wood.  I separated the skin further into three smaller pieces of practically transparent skin, like cling-film.  I cured all the bits in salt, stretched them on the wallpaper and turned them into rawhide – because it was in pieces I had to rethink my idea of a placenta skin drum or baby’s rattle.

The umbilical cord had gone pink in colour, as opposed to the beautiful white colour with a royal blue vein spiraling around it.  An umbilical cord has two arteries and a vein, known as a three vessel cord.  We would have liked to have had it cryogenically stored for possible future stem cell use… but it just didn’t happen.

I still have the cord in the freezer, part of it I will bury under a tree…but the rest?  Suggestions anybody?

5.  A Womb with a View

Using whatever bits I could find in the van, I made a light box, backlit with the LED innards of my broken head torch, a  plastic version of a 12-week-old fetus that was given to me last year, tissue-paper and a placenta skin window.  I named it,  “A Womb with a View”.  I have a little skin left so I am going to also make a pair of booties to hang like fluffy dice, lol.

         

Recycled mixed media and placenta skin  (Nomadic Village UK 2012)

6.  Placenta Bourguignon

    Placenta cookery, dining in the communal kitchen, Nomadic Village 2012  

We did get around to eating it eventually that day, with my partner Marcus.  In fact… four adventurous others tried it too… it was delicious!  We first tried a small piece lightly fried in olive oil just to see how it tasted before the addition of onions, garlic, mushrooms, and a dash of tomato paste, red wine and seasoning.  It was really tastey! I thought it tasted like lamb with the texture of heart, and Marcus thought it tasted more akin to beefy liver.  Marcus also tried a small section of umbilical cord and when asked what it was like – ‘parilla’ was the answer – ‘intestine’ to the uninitiated, lol.

It was amusing to see the looks on the faces of those who had tried it in a moment of curious spontaneity, after they had had a while to mentally process the occasion.  They would give me a skewed look of “Did I really just eat that?” or “OMG!!  That fell out of your vagina!” lol. One of the funniest comments was when Austrian Captain Klaus tried some – he said

“It iz very nice in zee mouth, but very weird in zee head”. 

The moment of ‘fine dining’ was recorded as a live performance, albeit quite private in one corner of the kitchen tent.  The table was decorated with beautiful orchids (unbeknown to everyone, they had decorated the lid of a coffin recently and we wanted to recycle them).

Later we had a discussion on cannibalism.

7.  Cordon bleu or Cannibalism?

Now then, I keep saying ‘my’ placenta, but in actual fact, it isn’t mine, it is Max’s!  It carries his genome.  So… despite me growing it, and giving birth to it, it belonged to Max.  This meant that eating it was actually a form of ‘cannibalism’!  This sparked a couple of interesting conversations on the subject which will have to be saved for a different blog.  In the meantime, here is someone elses blog that pretty much covers it…

Eating Placentas: Cannibalism, Recycling, or Health Food?

As with much of my work, I aspire to gently push the experiencer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

Great!!  I get to tackle ‘another’ taboo!  I also get to playfully threaten Max later on with…

“Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”

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COMING UP!!    – Placenta skin Booties!  WATCH THIS SPACE!!

Look out for blogs on my other projects created at Nomadic Village– SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE   &   JAPANESE INSPIRED WISHING TREE

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“My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta”

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FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION ‘SOCK MONKEY’

with Placenta Stuffing

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Placenta stuffing sock monkey

Made from recycled ‘Lost & Found’ materials and dried bits of placenta skin.

(Completed 2013)

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THE STORY OF THE COSMIC CONFIRMATION SOCKS!

The weekend we had conceived (and didn’t know it yet) we were walking in a park in London, it was a lovely sunny day!

We had been trying for a baby for a while but nothing had happened.  We were both in our forties and at this point had kinda given up, resigning ourselves to go down the IVF route later in the year, so we had just booked a trip to the United States of America for a last ‘mad-fling’ before possible parenthood!

USA Road Trip 2011

We planned to embark on a two month road trip (something we always love doing) which would include an adventure into the BLACK ROCK DESERT in Nevada, home of the iconic BURNING MAN festival.  I had wanted for a long time to participate in this artistic overload of the senses, and my mind swam with creative ideas!

So there we were, walking along a tree-lined path in a quiet public park in London making travel plans when I walked past a ‘rolled-up’ white and blue ‘thing’ on the path.  Curiosity made me go back and have a look.

It was a pair of tiny baby boys white socks with little blue cars on them.  They were very sweet.  I joked saying it must be an omen, lol.  Anyhow, I was compelled to keep them, my own little ‘Akua’ba’ fetish!

I used to have a couple of Asante Akua’ba dolls when I had the gallery and I am very familiar with why they were used.  There is scientific evidence to back up the validity of this practice that tricks a woman’s hormones into telling the body that it is willing and ready to conceive.  I was happy to experiment with this notion.  I will even go so far as to tell you that I’d bought a little baby’s snuggle-cloth-teddy from Asda a year previously to psychologically warm my being into ‘baby-mode’!

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asda always happy to help

I guess Asda just wasn’t cosmic enough, lol.

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A few weeks later I discovered that I was indeed pregnant and had conceived that weekend, probably earlier that very day!!  The little cute socks were indeed my Cosmic Confirmation Pregnancy Test!

Max has been wearing the socks, but I wanted to make something special when he out grew them.  I was inspired to make a Sock Monkey!  A totally ‘normal’ toy to make out of a pair of socks…

… albeit with a bit of left over dried placenta in the stuffing, lol.

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My “Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things From Placenta” was started at NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012, and continues to happen so long as there are bits of placenta left.

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 “PREOCCUPIED with PLACENTAS”

10 Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

… and counting!

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Sheela-Na-Gig DISCO BOOTIES FINISHED NOT LIT PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES Placenta Skin Baby Booties sock monkey portrait Sheela-Na-Gig painted in blood, Nomadic Village 2012 Placenta printed in blood, Nomadic Village 2012 Placenta Print BW Sheela-Na-Gig lino print  in blood/ black food colouring, Nomadic Village 2012 A Womb With a View

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 “Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it”

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If you want to read more about making beautiful things from placenta and the placenta rawhide please feel free to view my other blogs…

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To date I have done the following…

  1. PLACENTA PRINTING using the blood still inside the bag
  2. Painted SHEELA-NA-GIG images with placenta blood and black food colouring
  3. SHEELA-NA-GIG lino prints using placenta blood and black food colouring – also made ‘Thank You’ cards with the lino cut for my “Blessing Way Sisters”
  4. Made PLACENTA RAWHIDE from the Amniotic Sac
  5. Made the artistic piece “A WOMB WITH A VIEW”
  6. Cooked the rest – PLACENTA BOURGUIGNON!
  7. Had a lively discussion about eating placenta and cannibalism – “Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”
  8. Made PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES
  9. Made PLACENTA SKIN “FUNKY-BABY” DISCO BOOTIES
  10. SOCK MONKEY with dried placenta in the stuffing – “FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION FETISH”

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….. as long as there are bits left, I will keeping adding to this list!  ‘Follow’ my blog-site and watch this space!  I will keep updating as I go along!

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If you are interested in the story of the origins and magical uses of the African Dolls read the following page…

African Dolls

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As with a lot of my work, I aspire to gently push the viewer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

Look out for blogs on my other ART projects – SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE, PLACENTA  ART & COOKERY, PLACENTA BOOTIES,  PLACENTA DISCO-BOOTIES, SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER MERKIN, ANTI  BADGER-CULL TRIP-TIC, ROADKILL SQUIRREL TESTICLE EARRINGS  , BURNING-MAN ASARO MUD-FAMILY PERFORMANCE ART &  JAPANESE WISHING TREE

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 “PREOCCUPIED with PLACENTAS”

My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

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Sheela-Na-Gig DISCO BOOTIES FINISHED NOT LIT PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES Placenta Skin Baby Booties sock monkey portrait Sheela-Na-Gig painted in blood, Nomadic Village 2012 Placenta Print BW Sheela-Na-Gig lino print in blood/ black food colouring, Nomadic Village 2012 A Womb With a View see through placenta ket ring

umbilical clamp added to the harey purse placenta skin keyring and hares tail ROUND PATCH OF PLACENTA IN THE WINDOW WITH OLIVEPLACENTA PATCHY IN THE SKY Placenta cookery in Olive, Nomadic Village 2012

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(My placenta blogging has become quite prolific, so I have created new categories – Being Born’  & ‘Placenta Art’– especially to accommodate these and related blogs).

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 Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it.

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The placenta is an incredible, miraculous, life-giving organ!  It supplies your growing baby with a means of obtaining nutrients for development as well as a method of waste disposal.  While the unborn baby’s vital organs are developing, the placenta operates as its lungs, kidneys, digestive system, liver, and immune system until they fully develop.  The placenta does this so well that even when some of these organs fail to develop, the baby can survive until birth.  It is a thing of ‘Life’!

I remember hearing it for the first time along side my little one’s heartbeat!   The sound of the blood rushing through it was tremendous – it was all so overwhelming and awe-inspiring!  Truly magical!  I cried tears of pure joy!

I felt that the entire process needed honouring, what a miracle we are!  I have ended up doing many wonderful things with my/our placenta! – BEFORE and AFTER I ate it!!  lol.

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BURNING MAN – NEVADA DESERT – USA

BLACK ROCK CITY 2011 – “RIGHTS OF PASSAGE”

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………………..oOo………………..

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Last year I participated in an Artists’ Residency program called the Nomadic Village UK 2012, sponsored by ISIS Arts.

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NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012

NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012

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One of my artistic endeavours whilst there, was to defrost my frozen placenta (actually, it’s Max’s placenta) and begin creating as many beautiful things from it as possible…

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To date I have done the following…

  1. PLACENTA PRINTING using the blood still inside the bag
  2. Painted SHEELA-NA-GIG images with placenta blood and black food colouring
  3. SHEELA-NA-GIG lino prints using placenta blood and black food colouring – also made ‘Thank You’ cards with the lino cut for my “Blessing Way Sisters”
  4. Made PLACENTA RAWHIDE from the Amniotic Sac
  5. Made the artistic piece “A WOMB WITH A VIEW”
  6. Cooked the rest – PLACENTA BOURGUIGNON!
  7. Had a lively discussion about eating placenta and cannibalism – “Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”
  8. Made PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES
  9. Made PLACENTA SKIN “FUNKY-BABY” DISCO BOOTIES
  10. SOCK MONKEY with dried placenta in the stuffing – “FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION FETISH”
  11. I added the umbilical clamp which still has attached to it some of Max’s dried umbilical cord – I added this to the other charms/ tokens inside “THE ‘HAREY’ PURSE” – SHAMANIC ROADKILL FERTILITY FETISH OBJECT
  12. PLACENTA SKIN KEYRING – with Hare’s Tail & Foot.  The Tail and Foot are from the same animal that made the “HAREY PURSE” above.

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….. as long as there are bits left, I will keeping adding to this list!  ‘Follow’ my blog-site and watch this space!  I will keep updating as I go along!

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I have enjoyed this process so much I am offering my services as a Professional Placenta Artist. 

Anyone wishing to preserve their placenta can contact me using the ‘Contact’ page or use this highlighted link.

Alison Brierley - Professional Artist 

What I would like to make for you are completely unique and personal ‘objet de’art’ using your placenta, what you want is your choice and I am open to suggestions. 

I will not however be producing items that are meant to be ingested. 

Prices are negotiable depending on what you want and to be discussed privately. )

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Now please enjoy the multiple emotions you will encounter by continuing to read…

“My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta”

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1.  PLACENTA PRINTING

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This is quite widely practiced these days.  Without really doing much with the organ, I blotted it using the wallpaper liner spread before me.  I repeated the process, experimenting with positioning.  It was an amazing thing to play with.  The veins running through the skin made patterns like a road map, palm print and tree roots.  The flesh inside the bag was just like a sponge, in texture and function… it just kept on blotting!!

(Read more…)

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………………..oOo………………..

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2.  SHEELA-NA-GIG

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The bowl within which the placenta had been defrosting was full of blood!  I experimented by painting with this blood and then mixing it with black food colouring – it applied like ink!  I repeatedly painted a stylized self-portrait based on a Sheela-Na-Gig – an ancient and archetypal pre-Christian image of fertility.  I had a picture of this on the wall near my birthing pool to reassure and assist me through the first and second stages of labour.  It reminded me that women have been doing this for millennia and it does stretch that much’!. 

(Read more…)

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Black/White  Earth  Air  Fire  Water

 Self portrait of the archetypal image of Sheela-Na-Gig in B/W, Earth, Air, Fire & Water.

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………………..oOo………………..

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3.  LINO PRINTS

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I then made some block prints using a lino tile I had cut just days before the birth.  The image was that of the Sheela-Na-Gig image that helped me through labour.  I made pencil rubbings of the tile and created thank-you cards for my ‘Blessingway Sisters’ who had nurtured me beautifully.

 (Read more…)

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………………..oOo………………..

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4. PLACENTA RAWHIDE

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I scraped the sac that Max grew in.  I had a couple of shamanic drum hoops with me.  I figured that a bag containing a baby for nine months, kicking away had to be pretty big and strong!  I just hoped it could be stretched to cover a hoop!

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I separated the skin further into three smaller pieces of practically transparent skin, like cling-film.  I cured all the bits and turned them into rawhide – because it was in pieces I had to rethink my idea of a placenta skin drum.

(Read more…)

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………………..oOo………………..

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5. “A WOMB WITH A VIEW”

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Using whatever bits I could find in the van, I made a light box, backlit with the LED innards of my broken head torch, a  plastic version of a 12-week-old foetus that was given to me last year, tissue-paper and a placenta skin window.  I named it,  ”A Womb with a View”.

(Read more…)

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6. PLACENTA BOURGUIGNON

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We first tried a small piece lightly fried in olive oil just to see how it tasted before the addition of onions, garlic, mushrooms, and a dash of tomato paste, red wine and seasoning.  It was really tasty!

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This is the only disposable organ ever made.  From a cruelty-free, veggie perspective – it’s the only piece of meat (save eating a surgically chopped-off bit) whose owner didn’t have to die first for it to be eaten!

 (Read more…)

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7. CORDON BLEU OR CANNIBALISM?

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Hannibal Lecter

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Despite me growing it and giving birth to it, it belonged to Max.  This meant that eating it was actually a form of ‘cannibalism’!  This sparked a couple of interesting conversations on the subject.

 (Read more…)

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“BE CAREFUL!  I KNOW YOU TASTE DELICIOUS

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………………..oOo………………..

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8. PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES

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I had originally wanted to stretch the skin over a drum hoop, but it wasn’t possible.  I had to re-think my idea.  I had started to crochet a pair of Baby Booties whilst at the Burning Man festival but totally fluffed up the pattern!  Instead I had the brain wave of making Placenta Skin Booties and hanging them in the car like fluffy dice, lol.  They turned out better than I had imagined… both pairs!

 (Read more…)

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9. PLACENTA SKIN “FUNKY-BABY” DISCO BOOTIES

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These booties are rather special as they were made from the parts of the amniotic sac that were almost transparent and incredibly thin.  When dry, they were more delicate than tissue paper – impossible to sew… so I backed them onto bits of Max’s now redundant, but still sentimental, swaddling cloth.   Although they looked great when finished, you couldn’t really tell that they were made from placenta skin, so I ‘funked’ them up a bit with flashing LED’s…

(Read more…)

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Click here to see these fabulous booties in action via Youtube!  Hilarious!!  I am so pleased with them…

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10. SOCK MONKEY with PLACENTA STUFFING

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Placenta stuffing sock monkey

FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION FETISH

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The weekend we actually had conceived Max (and didn’t know it yet) we were walking in a park in London, it was a lovely day!

I walked past a ‘rolled-up’ white and blue ‘thing’ on the path… curiosity made me go back and have a look. It was a pair of tiny baby boy socks.  I joked saying it must be an omen!  I was compelled to keep them. I discovered weeks later that I was indeed pregnant and had conceived that weekend, possibly that day!!

It truly was a FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION!  Literally, were on the verge of planning IVF treatment!

Max has been wearing the socks, but I wanted to make something special out of them when he out-grew them.  So I turned them into a ‘Sock Monkey’ and combined some of the scraps of placenta rawhide too small for anything else with the stuffing mix.

(Read more…)

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………………..oOo………………..

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11. “THE ‘HAREY’ PURSE” – SHAMANIC ROADKILL FERTILITY FETISH OBJECT

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Some of the umbilical cord is still attached to the little ‘clip’ they use prior to cutting the cord.  I kept it because I am hopelessly sentimental, as you may have already gathered, lol.

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Max's umbilical clamp with cord attched

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I added this to the rest of the charms/ tokens inside the ‘HAREY PURSE’.

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umbilical clamp added to the harey purse

Vulva and Vagina made from recycled materials and a roadkill female hare.

(Completed in 2009)

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(excerpt below taken from the blog)

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I was studying anthropology at the time, having been fascinated with tribal customs and fetishism for many years.  I was absorbed in the study of magical practices and, in particular, fetishes.

Fetishes – usually an object (anything from a small stone carving of an animal to a carved wooden penis) believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner; broadly: a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence. The use of fetish objects is worldwide and from the beginning of recorded history – from Cave Man to modern Christian!

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H2840008 H2840035

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Over the following 16 months since her creation (it took a while for an old bird like me to conceive, lol) her slowly bulging vulva was gradually stuffed and filled with little sacred objects, each having special significance: a carved penis from a dear friend; a small piece of chalk flint from the phallus of The Cerne Abbas Giant; a fossil spiral, a ring of shell; a sculptured clay zygote from another dear friend; and a bird’s egg.

Eventually, I couldn’t fit anything else in her.

She dangled in the window of my motorhome as we drove along, bobbing away to music and the rhythm of the road surfaces, up-front and part of our lives – makes a change from fluffy dice! (read more…)

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12.  PLACENTA SKIN KEYRING

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I made a ‘Keyring’ with a piece of the skin that shows off the veins beautifully!  I completed a ‘set of three’ with the Hare’s tail and a foot form the same roadkill animal that I used to create the “HAREY PURSE” above.

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………………..oOo………………..

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….. as long as there are bits left, I will keeping adding to this list!

‘Follow’ this blog or my home-page and watch this space!  lol.

Let’s see how many things I can make from a single placenta!! – …. suggestions???

I still plan to plant a bit under the ubiquitous tree of course, lol, I have most of the umbilical cord in the freezer – too late for stem cell harvesting unfortunately.

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………………..O………………..

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As with a lot of my work, I aspire to gently push the viewer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

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Look out for blogs on my other ART projects – SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE, PLACENTA  ART & COOKERY, PLACENTA BOOTIES,  PLACENTA DISCO-BOOTIES, SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER MERKINANTI  BADGER-CULL – “TOTAL BOLLOCKS”, ROADKILL SQUIRREL TESTICLE EARRINGS  , BURNING-MAN ASARO MUD-FAMILY PERFORMANCE ART  JAPANESE WISHING TREE

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I am in the process of cataloguing my work of many years – it will eventually make it to this site!

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“KALI’S PANTS – AKA – NICE BEAVER”

Shamanic Shakti Beaver & Pike Merkin

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SAY “NO” TO FEMALE CIRCUMCISION.

“KALI'S PANTS - AKA - NICE BEAVER” – SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER FUR MERKIN – VULVA ART

“KALI’S PANTS – AKA – NICE BEAVER” – SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER FUR MERKIN – VULVA ART

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“KALI’S PANTS – AKA – NICE BEAVER” – Made from recycled materials

(Completed 2009)

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“Kali’s Pants” started off as a joke!  At the time I had an opportunity to recycle a piece of an old vintage fur coat – made from real BEAVER!

I had the idea of making a furry ‘Merkin’!  Ohhh, the jokes were flowing, lol!

Even though there was humour running through my idea, it still had the usual shamanic undertones of a serious work of art and genuine attempt at self-realization/actualization.

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BEAVER SYMBOLISM

  • Clearer understanding of our subconscious thoughts and dreams
  • Ability to mould our thoughts more constructively to suit our needs
  • Determination to follow our dreams
  • Diligence to keep and reach our goals
  • Balance and flexibility concerning ourselves and our expectations
  • Take time for self, friends and family. The people in our lives are most precious

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My finished piece looked great and was named – “NICE BEAVER” – inspired by the classic quip from the legendary Leslie Nielsen from the movie  “The Naked Gun”.

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nice beaver, frank drebben

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[Jane Spencer climbs a ladder]

Lt Frank Drebin (played by Nielsen: Nice beaver!

Jane: [producing a stuffed beaver] Thank you. I just had it stuffed.

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(click on the picture to see the clip on youtube!)

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It was during a visit to a friend’s house that the furry ‘bikini-bottom’ performance art piece “Nice Beaver” was re-named “Kali’s Pants”. 

My friend and I often swap oddities and make things from dead bits, this occasion was no different.  The addition of a predatory Pike jaw bone, a handmade red velvet vulva that I quickly whipped up and a piece of Dragons Blood incense to intensify ‘potency’ made ‘Nice Beaver’ take on greater spiritual and emotional meaning!  It became a thing of power.  It made one wince.

It was re-named after the fearful and ferocious form of the Dark Mother Goddess –  Kali.

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The Dark Mother Goddess Kali

“Women do not only ‘give’ life, they ‘take’ it also”. 

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An obvious aspect of ‘Kali’s Pants’ – AKA – ‘Nice Beaver’ needed addressing – the fact that this vagina had TEETH!

It felt perfectly natural that this particular merkin should have them – and that I needed to take a little ‘time-out’ for some serious introspection!  lol.

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“The Vagina Dentata is an image or an attitude being reclaimed by women in the world today, that of the aggressive, powerful female who is a danger to any man who seeks to conquer or oppress. Women are reclaiming their metaphorical vagina teeth and are prepared to bite back!”

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Vaginal teeth motifs exist in myths, stories and jokes all over the world, showing up as a symbol of aggression and revenge in women.  The idea of a vagina with teeth dates as far back as Greek mythology and is rooted in the idea that the female body has hidden, dangerous secrets and that a man who has sex with a woman may risk castration.

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teeth-movie-poster2

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“KALI’S PANTS – AKA – NICE BEAVER” made her debut art performance at one of my regular festivals the same year, and the response was dramatic and dynamic!

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Since then, when the mood takes, she has empowered the occasional Women’s Gathering and Shakti Dance.

I have also decided to use her to ‘figure-head’ my protest against FEMALE CIRCUMCISION.

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"Kali's Pants" - aka - "Nice Beaver"

She currently resides on my sunscreen in the van, lol.

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As with much of my work, I aspire to gently push the experiencer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

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A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ‘VAGINA DENTATA’

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(taken from an excellent article with further links – read on…)

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‘Vagina Dentata’ is a widespread, archetypal fear to be found in mythology, symbolism and faiths worldwide. It is evocative of a subconscious belief that a woman may devour or consume her partner during sex, believed to be aroused by the mouth-symbolism of the vagina. Sigmund Freud, who coined the term, said, “Probably no male human being is spared the terrifying shock of threatened castration at the sight of the female genitals.”

Visions of a gaping, hungry vagina lined with rows of sharp teeth have been predominant throughout especially patriarchal societies, representing the fear the destructive man has of being conquered by what he seeks to oppress. 

“Metaphorically, every vagina has secret teeth, for the male exits as less than when he entered.” said Camille Paglia in “Sexual Personae”.

Risen with the belief they are superior to women, the weakness and impotence felt after the moment of ejaculation awakens unconscious fears of having been devoured. It is a belief in many cultures that the man expels his energy in ejaculation, while the woman draws it into herself, and adds it to her own energy.

  
In ancient civilisations, women do not only give life, they take it also. Dark Goddesses are the manifestation of the warm, nurturing womb, and the devouring gateway to the afterlife.  The Norse Goddess Hel ruled over Helheim, whose gateway was a vagina, or ‘yoni’ and the Christians, who adopted Hel’s name into ‘Hell’ for their afterworld, often depicted the gateway to Hell as lined with teeth, and looking very much like female genitalia. The Indus symbol for women was a comb, which was symbolic of the vagina dentata. The vagina having the same capacity to consume as the ocean – also a feminine symbol – and whose waves were said to be teeth. 

Vagina Dentatism and its prevalence in religions (readers advised to visit the below link to what Barbara Walker says about it, for a more complete overview of these) would seem to be mankind’s fear of being conquered, of being weakened and taken back to what he was as a mere foetus, germinating within the womb.

This fear continues today, now taking the form within art and pop culture. Picasso, among others, had depictions of the vagina dentata is his artworks, movies such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Candyman and even one episode of Batman, where Poison Ivy’s giant Venus fly trap engulfs her victims, contain vagina dentata imagery and it is a popular area of study for feminists, theologists, mythologists and historians.

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