kate budd

As a child visiting anthropological museums in Scotland, I was fascinated by the ancient objects on display. Didactics read only “use unknown, possibly ritual”. Inspired by those mysterious objects and their unknown makers as an adult, I imagine a matriarchal Scottish tribe and their artifacts. In my narrative, this society was structured so that the men took care of the practicalities of daily life - fishing and foraging, while the women were the spiritual leaders and skilled artisans.

The society’s belief system and the objects they celebrated it with are grounded in their relationship to the land and water, which was sacred. Miniature landscapes represent grottos; the places where the veil between this world and the other is thin. Some forms show abstracted shells and other flora and fauna native to North East Scotland. Sexuality and the body are represented in others, while many are more enigmatic and imply function, or ritual. Vessel and sieve forms allude to the relationship between the people and the bodies of water they depended on for spiritual and physical sustenance.

These pieces are created through the lost wax casting method. Prior to being cast, the originals are carved from solid chunks of paraffin wax. For me, the reductive process allows for the perfect mix of intention and intuition. As I slowly scrape the wax away to find the form, knowledge, imperfect memory and imagination take the form of hybrids that inhabit a zone between the organic and functional, the psychologically charged and the coolly neutral.

Sometimes, pieces are destroyed through an imperfect casting; the potential for loss makes the ones that survive more precious. The pieces are between one and two inches in size; the tiny scale invites intimacy and close inspection. I hope to incite the desire to hold and possess in the viewer’s mind, and to hint at the experience of contemplating those small, mysterious artifacts left by our ancestors.