the boys at beach are gettin crafty ! Teaming up with the Museum of Witchcraft and a host of hot London talent for their latest exhibition ‘Cunning Folk’
A long time ago, while on holidays a small boy named Cecil Williams met an elderly woman who was a so called local witch. This very witch instilled in young Cecil to “look up, look up young man, there are other places and other things” and so Cecil grew up to create one of Europe’s most remote and curious places. The Museum of Witchcraft some years later in 1951. Noted as “a strange mixture of a showman, investigator and convinced witch” Cecil Williams collected, curated and housed a spell binding assortment of scrying mirrors, hand sickles with black magical symbols, poppets with real pubic hair sewn into them, semi-clad female mannequins draped over altars and all sorts of other witchy things.
Fuck knows why Cecil had a hard time fitting in, but needless to say he moved the museum to Boscastle in Cornwall after a series of hostile reactions from the other towns and villages he visited, including someone nailing a dead cat to his front door!
Well times they are a changin… and after a passing of hands including to a man called Graham King in ’96 the Museum of Witchcraft got a little high brow adding rare books and a scholarly touch to the mix. Then as of last year another exciting twist was added to the pot. As lover of the occult and famed art director Simon Costin of the fashion world announced he would be taking over the collection. Refurbishments are under way and Costin hopes to swing the doors back open on Boscastle this April.
What pains me the most from all this story is not the many witches who suffered unfairly at the stake, or where Williams got the pubic hair from, or even that an actual cat was nailed to a door….but that I’ve lived in London for 10 years completely oblivious to the fact a Museum of Witchcraft existed a mere train ride away!
Well thanks to the boys at Beach, I feel a little more in the loop, and you can too!
‘Cunning Folk’ opened last night at Beach London and features antique pieces from the museum’s fantastic, vast collection alongside a number of artist’s works who created their own versions of the pieces from the museum. Renowned UK artist Malarko has made a ‘Poppet’, Crispin Finn a ‘Spirit Board’, Charlotte Mei a ‘Fortune Telling Cup and Saucer’, Alex May Hughes a ‘Scrying Mirror’ . There’s pieces by Rob Flowers, James Jarvis…even a figurine of Caitlin Jenner as a minotaur made it in there!!!
Whip out your wand and check it out before it’s too late!
On Now @ Beach London
20 Cheshire Street | E2 6EH
Words by Tracy Kawalik
Photos by Tracy Kawalik | Cover Photo by Beach