13 June – 01 July: Catherine Stringer – Seal Woman

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Catherine Stringer will be giving a free artist talk at Red Gallery on Saturday 16th June at 2:30pm.

In the Icelandic folk tale of the Seal Skin, the seal woman could slip easily from seal to human form by removing her sealskin. One day whilst she danced on the shore as a woman her sealskin was stolen by a man who locked it in a chest, thus trapping her ashore. She ended up marrying the man and they had seven children, but she always yearned for the sea.

After many years the woman found the key to the chest, put on her sealskin and returned to the sea. She was heard to cry:

“Woe is me
I have seven children in the sea
And seven on land”

Thereafter she was torn between two families, two worlds. When the man went fishing, a seal would often swim around his boat with tears seeming to run from its eyes, and when her children walked along the shore, a seal would often swim close by and throw them fish. But their mother never returned to land.

Catherine Stringer was introduced to the Seal Skin story during an artist residency in Iceland in 2017, where she investigated the Icelandic marine macroalgae (seaweeds) and mosses as materials for papermaking.

Dualities, separation, loss and transformation, interpreted via the visual language of water, have been recurring themes in Stringer’s art practice.