Jim Carter
JIM CARTER


THERE ARE OLD ENGLISH GODS
2013
The installation 'There are Old English Gods' has a funereal tone, suggesting an ending beyond commercial considerations which is the ultimate deposition of these pieces in earth and water. The installation signifies the midpoint in a sequence of events that constitute a natural lifecycle: from birth to maturation, from deposition to rebirth. It is a moment in time when the votive pieces have evolved to a fullness of identity but not of purpose. The tableau is an opportunity for them to announce their presence, as it were, before returning to earth as ritual offerings and with labours to perform for animals and humankind.

Consisting of 18 maquettes with found objects, each piece depicts a hybrid creature of a god, owl, bull, dog, horse, cat or man in a raw state of vulnerability and mortality. Some are encumbered with corpses, some are pulling loads: a barge carries a feline form, a fallen tree carries the torso of a god. About the perimeter are guardians that seem to be demarcating a sacred space. The tree section suggests an altar and the potential for sacrifice, reinforcing, along with Christian and pagan symbolism, an element of magic and ritual. All is in a limbo state where the past is merged with the present. The sounds of rain, bird calls and terrified animals creates a sense of doom, an impending flood and a world on the brink of ruin but ultimate redemption.

The soundtrack incorporates samples of kulning, a high-pitched vocal technique mainly used as herding calls by women in the grazing pastures in Scandinavia. There is some speculation that, as a song form, it has prehistoric origins and was among the first methods of taming animals but it now functions primarily as a traditional means of communication between the shepherdess and the herd, a number of calls containing the names of individual animals. The soundtrack adopts the Kulning song form to convey feelings of sadness and communion, homecoming and arrival: a calling for the animals to congregate at a critical event. I am indebted to Susanne Rosenberg for permission to use samples from Vallåtar från Gammelboning, which was arranged by Sven Ahlbäck and performed by Susanne Rosenberg, Ulrika Bodén and Eva Rune.