The Koppel Project is delighted to present its second exhibition Wyrd Then: Weird Now, featuring the work of Sol Bailey Barker, Tom Hatton and Joe Farley.
“Today, the term ‘weird’ means something strange, bizarre, or supernatural. But in its archaic and original sense, it meant that aspect of life which was so deep, so all-pervasive, and so central to our understanding of ourselves and our world, that it was inexpressible.” Brian Bates author of Way Of Wyrd.
Starting with the Neolithic axe head and its complex layers of symbolism Sol Bailey Barker has spent the past year studying the evolution of power symbols and mapping their history in order to understand how a material aura once perceived as magic or wyrd is still retained in contemporary objects and machines.
From the Neolithic era the axe head was used as both a tool and a sacred object, coveted and imbued with the powers and attributes of ancient gods. Across Europe axe heads too large for practical use have been discovered buried in waterlogged land, frequently left on the boundaries between ancient territories within short walking distance of burial mounds and chambers, agricultural land and settlements.
The axe was surrounded by sacred ritual. Whilst being transported across the land, axes were wrapped and bound to protect the uninitiated from their powers, whilst also protecting the object from outside contamination. The wrapping and unwrapping of the axe within different materials presented the metaphor of secrecy, the notion of the insider and outsider. Axes past down as heirlooms through families carried the narrative of ancestry channeling power through the generations. Often the axe was considered to be sentient and those who possessed the wisdom to make axes were tribal leaders; perceived to hold cosmological, transformative powers.