If you have read any of my blogs, it is no surprise to you that I desperately wanted to be a mythical creature when I was growing up. I really wanted to be that enigmatic and talked about entity which had magic powers and a dark and mysterious personality. Sadly I grew up to be a red-headed IT geek with an attitude the size of Russia and the power to manipulate a spreadsheet, but that is really here nor there in the discussion about this splendid picture.
Judd uses transitional depictions of women turning to or from (depending on your perspective I suppose) birds, to bring a natural beauty and grace to her art.
There is something sensual and mysterious in Judd’s work, which (as it usually does with art work which I talk about) leads us back to myths and folktales from days of yore.
Rise Again, to me anyway, is very reminiscent of the ballet, Swan Lake. The white wings encasing the head of the feminine figure, hiding her true identity. The wings and the naked form displaying a simple yet elegant innocence which is associated with the swan.
For anyone not really knowing what the ballet Swan Lake is about, it is derived from a Russian folk story, where a newly married king needs to go on a journey alone without his wife. Before he leaves he tells his wife that she is not to leave the women’s quarters and she is not to listen to bad advice. Now, as we know, women never listen properly, and the new queen decides to take a walk around the palace grounds, where she encounters a witch. The witch manages to lure the queen into a pool and turns her into white duck. The witch then transforms herself to look like the queen and then takes her place in the palace.
The king returns and life seemingly continues with his new (new!) wife.
By the side of the pool the real queen in her duck form lays 3 eggs. From the eggs hatch 2 fluffy white wrens and 1 drake. The white duck warns her little ones of the palace and not to enter there as an evil witch has taken control, but one day they are lured in by the evil queen.
As the wrens slept in the palace the drake stayed awake, and when the evil queen called to see if they were awake, the drake answered, but on the second quack, the queen enters and sees the wrens asleep…so she kills them and casts them into the garden of the palace.
The white duck finds the bodies and laments over them, quacking wildly, the king wonders what all the noise is about, and while the evil queen tries to convince him that it is just a duck quacking, he sends someone to see what is wrong. When the maid returns, unable to stop the duck from quacking, the king himself goes to see what the commotion is. On seeing the king the white duck jumps into his arms and transforms back into his wife.
They send a magpie to fetch magic water (god knows where from) and it is sprinkled over the dead bodies which revives them and turns them into 3 wonderful children. After hearing of his wife’s ordeal, the king orders the witch to be put to death by dismemberment.
Judd herself speaks of the magic that she found in the beauty of Swan Lake which has never left her, and on speaking of why she likes to paint plumage she says:-
“To many people these birds and feathers can hold a deeper symbology, representing contradicting values such as beauty and death, peace and misfortune, vulnerability and strength.”