Jane Fairhurst

3. Wands for Fryr 2017 photo Jane Fairhu

Wands For Fryr (2014-17), app. 17 x17 cm, mixed media

Obstruction given by Tara Collette : Use only found objects (I like that you say 2/3 of your work is research and 1/3 is the art itself. I feel like you could really delve into the subject of plastic waste/waste in general)

Jane Fairhurst: 


“I like that you say 2/3 of your work is research and 1/3 is the art itself. I feel like you could really delve into the subject of plastic waste/waste in general.” Tara Collette.

All of my artwork carries with it a storyline that is revealed through in depth research into the subject. I relish the opportunity to delve into and discover obscure information that feeds into and enhances the final work.


The work chosen as a starting point for my obstruction is a mixed media piece Wands for Fryr made from ash staves wrapped in strips of fabric with found and gifted objects hanging from the wands on woven and plaited threads.


This work was made in response to my research into the role of women in the human story and discovering the women known as Volur or wand carriers,( a reference to the distaff used in spinning), who played a powerful role as seeresses in ancient Nordic belief systems. Well respected in their society the women used their wands, powerful objects of agency, to divine the fates of people, the future and as a type of augury to answer serious questions. Each woman had their individual wand, some of which have been found in burial sites along with other grave goods.

(Fryr is the ancient Nordic goddess of love, fertility, battle and death.)


My obstruction to use only found objects: delve into the subjects of plastic waste/waste in general is subject matter that I have explored before in my mixed media work, including Wands for Fryr, where I’ve used mainly found objects and re- cycled materials. With my obstruction I needed to find new ways to explore the subject.


I had many ideas but it was only when I was collecting pieces of plastic from the paths around the local fields and was reminded of collecting potsherds whilst exploring a Roman amphitheatre in Turkey that an idea began to form. My thoughts led me to William Flinders Petrie (1853-1942), the ‘father of Egyptology’. I had discovered a notebook of his containing a series of delicate watercolour paintings of Aegean potsherds, held as a digitalized version at the British School in Athens. They were made during 1892 whilst he was conducting excavations at Tel El Amarna the ancient city of Akhenaten. I decided to take on the role of a future archaeologist discovering plastic shards and carefully recording their information in the form of small watercolours painted onto prepared surfaces of found cardboard.

Archaeology Today 2020

Archaeology Today 2920

Instagram @jane.fairhurst​

'...a global seam of plastic...' (2020). Mixed media. Image courtesy Jules Lister

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