Edinburgh Art Festival 2021
Ella Walker | Ithell Colquhoun | Naomi Workman | Anousha Payne | Nina Royle | Francesca Blomfield | Emelia Kerr Beale | Kate Walters | Angus McCrum | Jessie Whiteley | George Ridgway | Leo Robinson | Melloney Harvey | Paloma Proudfoot | Bryony Rose | Zoe Williams | Danny Leyland | Tahnee Lonsdale | James St Findlay | Natalia González Martín
Guided by the Balneum Book, a 15th century illustrated Western manuscript outlining the folkloric healing properties of various freshwater bodies, Arusha Gallery and co curator Ella Walker are delighted to present Bathing nervous limbs for the 2021 Edinburgh Art Festival; a group exhibition bringing together new and existing work by 20 artists.
By treating this book as a teacher and healer, who proposes a set of instructions to be followed and repeated until the desired outcomes are achieved, discussions arise around learning, care, methods of doing and transformations. The exhibition seeks to reconcile these practices and invites the artists to look into the habits we adopt on a micro and macro scale, now-and throughout history in our pursuit of wellness, in the processes of self care and attempts at healing.
It seeks to observe the quiet habits that are culturally or socially instilled within us and ones we come to find ourselves as we live an experience which demands us to develop coping techniques. It's a peek into the bedroom, bathroom, garden, shopping trolly and the wardrobe and headspace.
How important is the end product of anything you do? How much of that process is about the active reconciliation of your past, present and future self. Looking at the performative aspect of those activities, the most grounding of rituals, the boiling of the broth, the reading, the walking, the visit to the hairdresser or dressing up in finding your-well-self again. Is the end result of all of these actions in fact in its process, and as such is reconstruction the most accessible, unifying and creative action despite its many guises?
Moving between the real and imaginary, all artists recount a deeply personal experience of being. The book proposes a set of instructions which can repeat, re-emerge and morph across the gallery in the form of installation, ceramics, performance and painting.
The Baths are of the Raynerii which heal decaying bodies,
with the two men who are the enemy of it (decay), salt and phlegm.
If from the creeping scars of the body you wish to creep,
A disease on the exterior that you want washed.
For whomever works to clean infected skin
Use the Raynerius, the skin will be healthy
If you do not (/if you cease) you incur the dangers
of the disease again The bank waters are terrible
with the healthy
I have seen many of them who dislike/fear the layer/flake/crust
(presumably eczema or similar skin condition?)
This has made the people rich, like decay, rotting.
The Raynerii, controlled by the waters of the lake, are
waterlogged and swollen Happy to be fat (rich) emptying
Outside the Cave
The water that is outside the cave next to the sea beach
Is a crippling burden to stomach worms
But harms (those who suffer from) dropsy,
when it is sweet to drink: It does not have its
power when consumed and can be harmful.
Gently heated it is used to refresh the limbs
It heals injured lungs and liver
It is an antidote for the heart (a broken heart/poison that affects the
heart?) and a good (friendly) cough medicine.
(for) a dry fever heat, drench the members (arms and legs).
The route (of the water) is taken through a hidden world
To help with ailing skin
And the ancients say that it is miraculous (enough) to speak of
Outside the cave where the water bubbles
This ancient place is like entering the back of a tortoiseshell,
A house ingeniously carved from under a rock.
Here the diseased may change shape to their full form (?)
Which it is said anything given to the water may be able to.
It is enough of a thing to be wondered at, to
see them stand erect. This comes on a stream
that is sent only once (per day):
These are some of the first waves, and some
Having been thinned with flowing flows back whence it came.
This is more than long Bethesda does once a year (?).
One quickening motion of disease
This water has moved many on his daily journeys
Rheumatism flees / It strengthens the head of the stomach,
Frees (you) from dropsy, it is all put to flight.
Phelgmatics profit from it, and it prevents fever.
A diagrammatic representation of the contraction and expansion of the psyche, the cycle through which one grasps, abstracts, accepts, lets go... The cycle can be approached in multiple ways: through the seasons and vegetative processes, through symbolic archetypes, through alchemical purification processes or through musical harmony.
George Ridgeway, Pore, 2021Audio and visual played on smart phone with wall bracket and headphones
Audio and Visual of Volcanic Fumaroles provided by Enzo Morra, Video of Baia Underwater Archaeological Park and interview with Christina Canoro, approx 45 x 45 x 30cm
Traditionally, the Makara is a mythological Tamil sea creature, often depicted as a hybrid animal (elephant/crocodile/deer and then part aquatic), and is considered a guardian or protector of the sea. Sometimes depicted as the vehicle for the Hindu river goddess Narmada. A version of the Makara is imagined here as part crocodile, the water has become part of the her; her body now fluid and transparent, disguised within and as part of the sea. The crocodilian scales bring the Makara close to a familiar place, but she remains very much an a elusive creature with protective powers. Waves are inverted within her body, curling inwards; she has become a body of water. The flow, lick and tickle of the waves creates a forward flowing motion, allowing her to move with more power. Her purpose is to to guard and protect.
It is the waters of the people/parish of Prato of which
the Balneum speaks Believed by many to be (the one
in) the work of Cicero
There is a difficult way which leads to the
lower regions (medical) And he is seeking a
water for sickness
This well reported excerpt invites consideration
It alleviates the hernias of the body heavy with humors (liquid).
It is said that it marvellously softens hard muscles
And the head, and shoulders for their correct drawing.
It wipes away fattiness and ulcers before the eyes.
In both the body lends support,
When wet with cold sweat it’s time to avoid (it)
And do not drink it when (your) hands/limbs are warm.
I thought about my crying body as a fountain, water collecting in
pools at my tear ducts, distilling and expelling in drops. Salty liquid circulating and recirculating.
What if all the tears you’ve ever cried were the same tears? Flowing out and then reabsorbing
back into the skin through some kind of osmosis?
Naomi Workman, The Parakeets, 2021Oil on linen100 x 100 cm
Translations by Sukayna Powell
Photography by ZAC and ZAC
Marina Warner - Indigo
Goblins - Jen Calleja
The Crying of the Wind - Ithell Colquhoun
All about love - bell hooks
Salt slow - Julia Armfield
Amalgam - Nina Royle
The Mermaid of Black Conch - Monique Roffey
Mermaids and Dreams in Visual Culture - Louise Milne
States of the Body Produced by Love - Nisha Ramayya
Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water - Astrida Neimais
Bathing nervous limbs