SWALLOWHEAD is an installation and perfomance piece made in collaboration with Blanc Sceol.
It was shown as part of In the Dark 2020 : Even Darker a London Group show. 

Here is a video from the perfomance on youtube.

Swallowhead is a continuation of a series of works and performances I have been working on since 2017 which relate to the seasons, day and night, the Otherworld and the loss of Mother Earth and nature spirits. Most recently I worked on Pan and the goddess which was performed in November 2019 in my studio and at APT gallery. Another in the series is Myth, a film and installation made over the summer of 2018 which I have not yet shown.
Myth 2017-2018 animation still

Swallowhead relates to myths and stories of characters who are murdered and reborn, whose body may be eaten or whose blood is drunk. One such is John Barleycorn / Boewa (an old English folksong about violence to this personification of barley, his murder and restitution). I grew up near The John Barleycorn Pub in Goring on Thames, and he was a mystery to me, when I heard the song of his mistreatment I wondered what he'd done so wrong. 
SWALLOWHEAD installation for the perfomance January 11th 2020

Another reference is the myth of Osiris. He was murdered by his brother Seth, flung into roots which grew overnight into a miraculous tree which was used as a pillar in a palace. His wife Osiris found it and eventually persuaded the Queen to let her have the pillar. She cut it open and claimed the body. But Seth heard of this and cut Osiris up into fourteen parts, and flung them far and wide. Isis and her sister found them all except for one. They built a temple where each part of the body was found, but did not find his phallus. So Isis made a golden one as a substitute. She turned into a swallow and revived his body for one night, during which she became pregnant with Horus. Ancient Egyptians made figures of Osiris and planted seed cakes in them.
Barley biscuits using a mould I made.
They mourned him and made ritual performances. 

For our collaboration I met Hannah and Stephen twice in my studio and once in the space. They were about to visit Silbury Hill when I contacted them, and Hannah was reading a book in which, by chance, John Barleycorn appeared on the next page. 

At the next visit they came with the writing Hannah had made at Silbury Hill and Swallow Head Spring and I gave them the readings I had made of Sumerian poetry about Inanna.We agree that they would wear the same costumes they had worn for Otherworld in March 2019. I drew around Stephen and we discussed the bird, the instruments, use of the space and making a mould for barley cakes and where to get barley wine to distribute for a sense of communion afterwards.

still from SWALLOWHEAD with Stephen Shiell perfomer

still from SWALLOWHEAD with Stephen Shiell perfomer

still from SWALLOWHEAD with Hannah White perfomer

SWALLOWHEAD 2020 jute pewter wood palm 250x350cm

all images copyright Victoria Rance 2020