I remember this well from my childhood. Like many other people my generation and older, I was enchanted by this little piece of art. It sparked a fire within me that has never gone out – the spark that led to archaeology, goldsmithing, and lapidary.
As a piece of conceptual art, this one’s very special. A gold and jewelled amulet pendant (pictured), buried somewhere in England, and the clues to its whereabouts concealed in a book of beautiful illustrations by the same artist. Whoever deciphered the clues would be able to identify the spot where the buried treasure was hidden, and claim it for themselves.
Masquerade made headlines. More importantly, it touched the lives of millions of people in a way that books, art and jewellery alone have rarely matched.
I heard about the hare, and the book, on the TV news when it was buried, but there was no chance I was ever going to be able to do something about it. I lived in Scotland, and my family were not going to fork out for a brand new picture book, never mind drive me all over another country after something which might be a hoax.
The hare, of course, is an animal steeped in myths and pagan lore. It’s often named as a familiar animal of witches, and in the flesh hares have a feisty look, much more wild than a rabbit can muster. Eye to eye it’s spirit is more akin to the badger, another of Britain’s mystic creatures.
But hares are beloved elsewhere too, and the moon-struck hare is a symbol of other cultures across the world. As it says on The Goddess And The Green Man website:
The hare is closely associated with the Moon and with the Goddess. The hare is Her totem animal. The Spirit of Hare possesses and gives freely of some special and powerful attributes: life and abundance, fertility (creativity), transformation and generosity.
The hare is the commonest witch familiar, teaching divination and clairvoyance under the moon’s influence. Associated with moon deities, the image of the hare in the moon appears throughout spiritual traditions the world over. In ancient traditions the hare was associated with the deities of the hunt. Killing and eating the hare was taboo although this was later replaced with a ritual hare hunt at the festival of Ostara/Eostre.
A couple of years ago, on a trip to a Scottish island for the solstice, we watched the sun set over the Atlantic and drove home along moonlit country roads, no other traffic on the tarmac but a couple of hares which danced across our headlights between fresh-harvested fields. Somehow, with the full moon and the solstice and the solitude of a Western Isle, the hares added a magical quality which completed the night.
Masquerade turned out not to be a hoax, after all.
It’s real, it’s beautiful, it’s very Seventies and it’s part of a forthcoming exhibition at the V&A.
There’s a small child from thirty years ago tugging at my virtual sleeve. And it’s in my own voice she asks: “Can I go? Please?”
My plans for 2012 involve making more jewellery (duh).
I’ve got some neat ideas for using up a few of my seaglass pieces, which I’m going to document as I make them. Look out for glorious sparklies and subtle lustre.
Failing that, look out for another helpful booklet or two on obscure techniques and unusual jewellery…
Blog posts will probably end up being one a month, or every three weeks, so keep checking back.
Off to the beach now to collect some more!