The Queen of Elphane
I have started the "official" last piece in the project. The works will continue but after this one I will have the set of 8 large scale works for the exhibition. I'm delighted to announce that my "Whisper of the Sith" works will be shown together at Gallery Heinzel around May time- just waiting for the actual dates and will give more details soon. The overall theme is Wildlife and Animals so I am working on some small "bird" pieces too, which will hopefully make it into the show- I felt like breaking out the colour for those ones so they are not all entirely "Scottish". I will however be making some small companion pieces featuring native animals after this big deadline has passed.
So this one is The Queen of Elphane (also known as The Queen of Elphame in some parts).
I thought it fitting to end with the Scottish version of The May Queen or Queen of the Fairies since the works will be revealed during May.
One account has her riding a White Horse on the eve of Beltane and the horse has 59 bells woven into its mane. I'm not sure of the origins of this description or the significance of the bells but it certainly feels very much like the romantic imagery of The May Queen. This was the image I had in my head for the piece but after several "doomed" sketches of a horse I decided to abandon it. I always struggled to depict horses as a child and wanted to return to the subject as a challenge too, but it wasn't to be. I think I'll give it a go again when I have more time to "play".
The Queen of Elphane has probably gone through various transformations in our history. In ancient times she was seen as the triple Goddess- the mother, the maiden and the crone and her mythology was interwined with Beira (probably viewed as her "winter guise"). She was said to rule the Fairy realm and is dual natured, with the capacity for both good and evil.
On Beltane she takes to the skies with the "Seelie Court" (a band of benevolent fairies) spreading good magic and renewal to the land and on Samhain she appears with the "Un-Seelie Court" (an band of evil fairies intent on death and destruction). All things pertaining to Fairy Land were once revered and respected as part of the ancient belief systems but in later years she was tarred with the image as mostly an evil "deity". In some of the documented witch trials the accused were said to have been consulting with the Queen of Elphane, so she became known as the Queen of Witches. In the last few hundred years she has regained her crown as Queen of the Fairies, a figure of power, mystery and magic.
I have chosen to portray her in a benevolent light to celebrate the month of May and the coming Summer.
I was intrigued with the association of "bells" so decided to weave the bells into her hair. The Fae folk by tradition fear both Iron and the ringing of Bells so I wondered if this was a sign of her power and status to overcome such trivial "defenses". I wanted to portray her as both a protector of woodland creatures and with a sense of mischief and magic so she is cradling a rabbit and holding a crystal wand. The Fae folk usually came under the guise of beauty and youth so she is seen as a young girl- another parallel with the crowning of the May Queen.
Here are the first drawings and I will share more soon....