Art Elements June Theme Challenge – Selkies.

This months Art elements theme challenge is hosted by the teams mythology maven Jenny Davies-Reazor and she opted for Selkies. There are many tales of these shape shifting creatures with magical powers who appear as seals in the waters of our oceans but can come onto dry land and take on human form.

The most recent version of the myth that I’ve read was the novel Sealskin by Su Bristow. This is a dark telling of the tale that begins with a young fisherman out one night checking his creels for lobster and crabs. From his boat he sees what he assumes to be a group of seals swim to a skerry whereupon they stand upright and shed their skins to reveal themselves as a group of girls. These girls make merry dancing and running of down the beach to play and find berries to eat.

He’s heard the legend of the Selkie and quietly lands his boat on the Skerry and whilst watching the ‘girls’ in the distance takes one of the shed skins and hides it among the rocks. Seeing him, the selkies becomes alarmed and run back, put their skins back on and get into the water and swim out to wait for all the group to arrive but, without the hidden skin one of them is left stranded.

That’s where I’m going to stop as that’s the point I’ve chosen as inspiration for my piece. I had one of Jenny’s selkie pendants in my stash and had an idea for using it in a framed piece.

To go with this I pulled out a bunch of ocean toned textiles to see what I had to work with.

I decided on some spaced dyed cotton scrim as it had a lovely loose texture and a good range of tones. I stitched this to some heavy weight interfacing and then added some boucle wool to give the effect of breaking waves. I added the seal focal and some beadwork to give even more texture and the effect of light sparkling on water.

I used a simple wooden box frame to hold the piece and used acrylic paint to give it some colour, sanding it back a little to give a slightly weathered effect.

I also added five eyelet hooks to the bottom of the frame so I could add some further embellishments.

I used an assortment of sea themed beads and charms to evoke the ocean along with a goddess charm to represent the stranded Selkie in her female form.

To complete the scene I added some slate from my garden to act as the rocks on the skerry with a piece of faux fir tucked into them for the hidden skin…the idea being that the last of the selkies out as sea realises that her stranded sister is not coming with them and takes one last look back before leaving with the others.

Although I had this in my minds eye I wasn’t at all sure if it was going to work right up until the last minute but it did come together and I’m happy with how it turned out.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Jenny for coming up with this theme for the challenge. I hope you’ll join me on the blog hop to see ow everyone else has interpreted the theme – just use the links below.


AE team: