Martha Harris

Martha Harris BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation 2020

I’m interested in folklore, stories passed down through generations and the rituals involved in ancient Celtic spirituality.

For my final project I have taken this interest and illustrated 8 key events of the Celtic year from the book ‘Celtic Rituals’ by Alexi Kondratiev. There were many layers to each season filled with a range of global inspirations.

My practise as an illustrator revolves heavily around printmaking so my pieces depict plans for screen prints and lino prints created digitally with one example (called Samhain) of a finished Lino print.

Samhain - The Summer is ended and a new year begins as darkness returns. Other worlds cross with our own and fae dance amongst fires with the souls of the tribe past and present. The dancing lasts all night and the dead communicate with the living.
Deurious – In the month of frost, when the darkness settles around us, we turn to the light. The sun is behind us and other light sources guide our way. Mari Lwyd, a woman dressed up with a horse’s skull and old blanket approaches the women of the tribe warning them of the dangers ahead. Red prophesies appear and tell the women secrets of the land, and the predictions of the year to come.
Imbolc – The time between winter and spring, when the land begins to wake up. The tribe move from the deep forest to areas where the sunlight begins to hit. Brigid (essentially the goddess of spring) and her adder awake the land with purifying fire. Brigid’s serpent emerges if there is to be an early spring, but he cannot be found if the spring is to come later.
Spring Equionox – Finally the tribe are able to emerge from the forest where they have taken shelter. The lord of summer (the hare) leads the way towards the freshly bloomed dandelions, snow drops and daffodils. The tribe dress up and dance across the fleeting boundary between light and dark, they celebrate the harvest that will be grown in the coming months.
Calan Mai - The gentle life strengthening sun is nurtured. Everyone wakes up before the first sunrise of May to celebrate one last long night of true darkness. Creatures that have hidden deep in the woods and underneath lakes begin to emerge, especially mermaids. Each member of the tribe approaches the fire which the creatures bring and meditate on the thought of the summer slowly making its way back to us.
Mediosaminos – Medicinal herbs are gathered during the last few long summer sunsets, 7 suns burn brightly in the sky. The herbs are stored and eaten until they can be gathered again. Moving through the fields during the last sunset of summer allows them to store the sunlight (metaphorically) as a source of light to turn to when faced with darkness or uncertainty. To be burned was an omen of good luck.
Lunasa – Mourning the end of the harvest the tribe dance through the fields as they become fire itself and bring the light of summer with them back to the forest. Garlands are worn to honour Queen Aine, ruler of the fae, as all the magical creatures celebrate their last few nights out before returning to hibernate. Ravens sing prophesies of the winter and pair couples who will spend the coming winter together.
Alban Elfed – Everything we create, even creations of the mind are the fruits of our occupation and a harvest which is celebrated. After bidding farewell to the summer lord (the hare) he returns to rest until he is awoken again next spring. The tribe return to the forest and change is in the wind. The sky turns blood red as the first leaves begin to turn golden. The last sunset of autumn is soaked up before the long wait for light to be reborn, delight is taken in the plentiful harvest.
Book Cover