Friday, 14 August 2009

Clootie Wells

Photo: Angus Clyne - Clootie Well at Munlochy, on the Black Isle in Scotland
seen here

In Scotland, clootie means a piece of cloth or strip of rag, it can also mean clothing and cloth for patching. The custom of tying rags to trees and bushes, raggedy bushes, near a well is known across Britain and Ireland. Usually a votive healing ritual - the cloth is dipped in the well and tied to the tree; when the rag rots and falls from the bow, the ailment is cured. There's something strange and atmospheric about the Clootie Well in this image, something slightly spooky but also mournful. It's such a direct intervention. I think it's the simplicity and democracy of the gesture that is compelling to me.

I've been thinking about this for quite a while now. The function and ritual of it, but also the aesthetic. The Mummers plays that are performed around New Year in the UK often include strips of cloth and rags in their costume too.

Mummers performing in Firle in Sussex - seen here

My more recent work has incorporated rag strips and other everyday materials used repetitively.

Kathryn Campbell Dodd - Snowfall 2009

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