My Blog posts are a bit like buses at the moment. Nothing for a while then several all at once :)
I thought it was time to share some of the stories behind the larger pieces I was completing at the beginning of the year. First up is "Scathach". The original is currently available at the wonderful Gallery Q in Dundee until the 15th March.
Scathach is the legendary Scottish Warrior Woman. What I like most about Celtic/Scottish and Nordic Myth is the sense of "reality" about the subjects- One can imagine them as real people with interesting back stories and although they are steeped with supernatural and otherwordly elements there is much to relate to and these myths draw me back time again, often putting a twist on the subject which reflects their humanity.
So Scathach was said to be the daughter of a Pharaoh and skilled in ancient knowledge, battle strategy and martial arts, she must have been widely traveled and highly regarded at a young age. Together with her sister Aife she set up a school for warriors in Ireland. It was peculiar in that the male warriors could only be taught by female teachers and I'm wondering if the subtle effectiveness of the martial arts teachings were part of this, the ying and the yang. The famous Scottish battle cry was said to be a trademark of Scathach herself and linked to ancient martial arts.
The sisters eventually settled in Scotland and have strong links with the Isle of Skye where the resided. They led many great battles when they were not bickering amongst themselves or fighting duals, for the sisters were also great rivals with Aife constantly feeling she was in the shadow of her elder sister. I guess she had a lot to live up to as "Scathach" was reported to have given her name to "Scotland" itself. Supernatural elements are associated with both sisters and in Scottish Myth there is reported to be a "Land of the Giant Women" in the underworld or land of the Fae/Sith Folk. These deities had great power to shape the land and control the seasons and destiny- both sisters were said to consult with and serve these deities in exchange for superhuman powers. Scathach was able to roam the country in the guise of a giant, covering vast areas of ground with one stride.
My painting was inspired by the thought of what she might be like as a regular "human"- what she might be thinking in her "downtime". I imagined that she might be drawn to cats and the region of Caithness (Cait-Ness, The Kingdom of the Cat) with her Egyptian roots so I was inspired to include Keiss Castle as a nod to the area- It is a loose interpretation as the castle is set on the rugged landscape of the cliffs and I think it is one of our most spectacular historic sites.Her traveling companion I imagined to be tamed wildcat with a hint of Sith-Cait- Both Scathach and her feline companion are wearing Scarab Beetles for protection. I have also included a little personal touch in the painting with the rings she is wearing, both are from my own jewellery box- A silver and coral ring from Cairo and a plain Celtic band. I think her roots were the most fascinating part of her story and mysterious past. I hope you like my interpretation.
"Scathach" by Anita Inverarity- Ink on Illustration Board (Framed)