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'medieval folk modern motifs'

Luke Cassidy Greer writes an essay exploring the themes, motifs and concepts within the practice of Jamie Watt. From the gothic & medieval influences to their fusion with a distorted contemporary culture that we are made to feel alien within. 

Artist: Jamie Watt

Editor: Luke Cassidy Greer

The appearance of iconography is a recurrent fixture in Watt’s practice; they heir from a place of the mundane yet have been treated so they are elevated to a cultish status. Sacrosanct and ritualistic these objects feel they live and grown far beyond our comprehension. They have been here before us and will live on after us, we can only pay witness to them in passing. Although not old or endowed with historic importance they are presented to have such. The very familiarity of these objects and symbols leaves us uncomfortably aware of our own latent obsolescence. It is true that unprocessable horrors lurk in the shadow of The New but surely by the same justification they must also lurk in the shadow of The Old?


There is a palpably disquieting feeling of a past at odds with the present in these works. The gothic sensibilities and neo-medievalist slant towards the ‘folk’ enforce this uncomfortable sense; a sense that is akin to that of watching Robin Hardy’s 1973 film ‘The Wicker Man’. The fear does not stem from the object itself but the antiquated time it represents, something too old to be considered alive in this day and age. It is a confrontation between the settled and antiquated contrasting with the modernity we are a part of - work comes and goes, relationships are casual, apartments only shelter but never house.

The tether that binds here and now has been frayed to the point of becoming dislodged. As outsiders we are invited to view the objects of de jure banality re-presented as holders of an importance we are not invited to know. We remain spectators analysing elements and evidence only ever in the secondary perspective. These objects stand as representatives of their counterparts. The bottle of whisky need not represent the brand that is emblazoned across its front but the status it has held in society for countless centuries till now. The scratch card, the metal brand, the mosaic representation of ‘Space Raiders’ crisps all slide into a space of ambiguous cultural interpretation that echo in the Scottish psyche.

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