Archive for Skull

More Magical Doorways, Naples

Posted in Church, History, Italy, Ruins with tags , , , , , on April 18, 2014 by mysearchformagic

I was looking through some old photographs this week, and came across these images from a past trip to my favourite magical city, Naples.

These pictures brought back memories of my wanderings through the maze of narrow streets and alleyways that make up the city’s ancient Centro Storico. It’s a place full of intriguing surprises, with a beautiful baroque palace or crumbling church around ever corner.

An intriguing doorway in Naples

An intriguing doorway in Naples

I discovered a wonderful pink church on one of these strolls. I don’t know what the church was called, and to be honest I am not even sure I could find it again if I tried. The once-impressive building was in a bit of a sorry state, empty and boarded up, but I was particularly drawn to its magical old doors. All three were adorned with rather macabre carved skulls, a symbol of the Neapolitans’ strange fascination with death and mortality.

The wonderfully Baroque main door to an empty church in Naples

The wonderfully Baroque main door to an empty church in Naples

I love to imagine what lay inside, and while I feel sad to see historic buildings in such poor condition, there is definitely something magical about this city’s faded grandeur. I hope it won’t be too long before I go back to Naples, and do some more exploring of its back-streets in search of magic…and in the meantime, if anyone recognises this church and can identify it for me I would be eternally grateful!

A magical doorway in Naples

A magical doorway in Naples

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Modern Witchcraft, ASC Gallery

Posted in Art, London, Superstition, Witches with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by mysearchformagic

This week I discovered a fabulously strange exhibition at the ASC Gallery near London’s Elephant and Castle. Entitled Modern Witchcraft, the show combines historic artefacts and contemporary art in an intriguing, magical way.

Modern Witchcraft, an installation view

Modern Witchcraft, an installation view

Many of the ancient objects are on loan from the nearby Cuming Museum, which was sadly damaged in a recent fire. Items from the Edward Lovett collection of superstition in particular, such as an early 20th Century Witch Ball used for crystal gazing, as well as a 16th Century German Black Mirror perfect for calling up the spirits of the deceased, set the decidedly supernatural tone.

A German 16th Century Magician's Mirror, from the collection of the Cuming Museum

A German 16th Century Magician’s Mirror, from the collection of the Cuming Museum

The contemporary works are just as bizarre and unsettling. Most striking are Riccardo Andujar’s Heads I-IV, these tiny eyeless craniums apparently in the process of shedding their multicoloured rubbery skins. John Stark’s paintings combine Poussin-like classicism with creepy sci-fi surrealism, his world inhabited by faceless hooded figures.

Heads I-IV, RIccardo Andujar

Heads I-IV, RIccardo Andujar

My absolute favourite exhibit was located in a quiet corner of the gallery. At first glance, James Hopkins’ Ghost Bottle appears to be just an oddly shaped white mass sitting on a pedestal next to a bottle of red wine. But stare more closely into the dark depths of the bottle and you will see something amazing – the reflection of the white mass forms the shape of a perfect human skull.

Ghost Bottle, James Hopkins; Conditions, Nick Dawes

Ghost Bottle, James Hopkins; Conditions, Nick Dawes

Modern Magic runs until 18 May 2013 at ASC Gallery