Augury

Augury combines apposite material and craft with an amalgam of mythology, local folklore and natural history to investigate, intervene and provide an auspicious solution to a series of recent unwelcome visitations at 38b Peckham Rye.

The exhibition is named for the prophetic divination of the future by studying the flight of birds; a term derived from Roman Augurs who would interpret the will of the gods through observing the direction, calls, and behaviour of birds in the sky and their habits in captivity.


In response to an episode of nesting pigeons at 38b, a handcrafted perimeter of angled deterrent spikes is now installed on the affected terrace, preventing the intruding birds from landing and presenting an open invitation for readings to be conducted from inside the living room by the tenants and visitors to the property.

Made from reclaimed antique oak, the bird spikes offer one of several intercepted chronologies: as a child, William Blake had visions of angels in a Peckham Rye oak tree, just a short way from 38b. Winged apparitions also appear within a famous mid-career poetic examination of paradoxes, and finally in a painting completed shortly before Blake’s death in 1827, this time taking on a diabolical aspect as inhabitants of the Seventh Circle of Hell.

A curved rod, hand-forged to form the spiral of an Augur’s wand, dubs the Eastern view of Peckham Rye Common and sky above templum, the custom surface at once two shifting tones, while locally-produced grain offerings are served to both bird and visitor alike.


Tom and 38b wish to thank the following for their kind assistance and expertise:
Dendrochronology: Dr Martin Bridge - Institute of Archaeology, UCL.
Wrought Ironwork: Malcolm K White - Blacksmith, & Anita White, The Historic Dockyard Forge, Chatham.
Automotive Refinishing: Russell Jacob – Regional Sales Manager, SATA UK.
Loans: Dr Richard Espley - Research Librarian. British, Irish and Post Colonial Literatures and Languages, Senate House Library, UCL.
Kiara Bird - Trainee Forensic Psychologist, HM Prison Service.
Research: Sara Wallace - Senior Library Assistant, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.
Recipes: Doreen Campbell at Caribbean Spice Bakery, Kate Sawyer at Dandelion Healthfoods.


List of works & bibliography:

Prototype
Passivated Bronze
2013

Pictor Ignotus
Reclaimed oak avian deterrent
2013

Lituus
Wrought Iron, Blue Rome Outrageous® Illusion™ Cellulose paint, Satin Black base, House of Kolor® Blue to Green Interflake, gloss clearcoat lacquer, mild steel bracket, galvanised steel chain
2013

Parabola
Limited edition hole punched etchings prints on paper
2013

Festival/Cornbread Offering
Mixed grain, birdseed, whole corn kernels, yellow cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cayenne pepper, eggs, milk, butter
2013

Life of William Blake, "Pictor ignotus": With selections from his poems and other writings
Two Volumes
Alexander Gilchrist
London; Cambridge: Macmillan and Co, 1863
(Shown with kind permission of Senate House Library, UCL)

The National Encyclopædia
Vol. II, ASK-BLA
London: Mackenzie. 1880
Man, Myth and Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopædia of the Supernatural
Vol. I
Richard Cavendish
London: Purnell/BPC Publishing, 1970

Inferno
From: The Divine Comedy, circa 1314.
Dante Alighieri
This edition translated by Robin Kirkpatrick 2006
London: Penguin, 2012

The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies and the Suicides
From: Illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy (Digital scan, shown with kind permission of Tate)
William Blake
1824-27
Graphite, ink, watercolour on paper
372 x 527 mm

The exhibition was part of the inaugural Art Licks Weekend, which brought together over 70 young galleries, artist-run spaces and independent curatorial projects over the weekend of 4-6 October 2013. It was awarded the Artquest/Workweek Prize, reviewed in several articles and featured as its own digital prediction as part of Laurence Lek's Bonus Levels commission. 

Photography: Eva Rowson, MI.REPORT and artist's own.