Saturday, 12 March 2011

March Hares

Days off are never better spent than wandering round bookshops and galleries (unless, perhaps, going for a long walk in the mountains.) It was a joy to discover the Zillah Bell Gallery in Thirsk, this afternoon, and how very appropriate to find that they are hosting an exhibition on March Hares (do you associate them with madness?) Certainly some of the hares we saw looked fairly wild, most definitely inhabiting the borderlands between not-quite-normal and insanity! It's something to do with the body language of the hare and the gleam in the eye, isn't it? They have that ability to leap around and strike up odd postures. They also seem quite pugnacious and curiously knowing. But I do love them and we spent a happy half hour deciding we couldn't really afford a lino print of hares by moonlight!

Amongst other things, I learned that in mythology, hares are associated with Eostre, the Mother Earth, and therefore looked on as a regal animal, representing things that are most associated with the Mother - love, fertility and growth. Apparently, in Anglo Saxon mythology, the rising sun (Ostara) is sometimes represented as a hare's head with the ears. Hares are also associated with the moon and with the springtime when they are at their most visible and playful. They are the friends of all children. So, in pre-Christian thinking, the hare was largely a symbol of good luck. In the Medieval period, however, the church encouraged people to think of the hare as an animal of bad omen - a reminder of witches dancing and weaving spells.

A friend also tells me that hares were once thought to lay eggs - perhaps because laywings lay their eggs in territory inhabited by hares. And so they came to be associated with new life and Easter eggs

There is something about the hare that gets under your skin! I look forward to the gallery's Summer and Winter exhibitions.

exhibiting artists include; Jonathan Trowell, Andrew Haslen, Emerson Mayes, Ann Kilvington, David Winfield, Howard Towll, Ian MacCulloch, Venus Griffiths, Carry Ackroyd, David Bennett.  There was also pottery and jewelry on display as well as the paintings and prints. 

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