I Put a Spell on You

Serena Korda

Jug Choir (5 from the series), 2016. Glazed ceramic

Serena Korda’s practice spans sculpture, performance and installation – and has ‘world building’ at its core. She reviews historic and mythic narratives through a female lens, reworking them to create her own highly inventive mythologies. Her sculptures predominately adopt the notoriously unforgiving medium of clay, embracing its potential technical imperfections along with its domestic heritage.

‘Jug Choir’ is inspired by ancient ‘witches bottles’, often buried in the corner of homes to ward off evil spirits. During the witch hunts of the 17th century vessels – often using the ‘bearded men’ Bellarmine bottles commonly available – were filled with urine, bent nails and votive offerings such as cloth heart and buried under floorboards in the belief that they would keep witches and evil spirits at bay. Serena Korda uses these as the starting point for her powerful and joyously inventive artworks where toads overwhelm, a ‘beard face’ pukes down his front and, in another, gender is questioned as numerous breasts form upon the bearded figure, possibly for suckling familiars, but also for the next generation of bottles that the figure is giving birth to.

Serena Korda has exhibited widely, including Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art, Hayward Gallery, London (2022); Maidens, London (2022); The Horror Show, Somerset House (2022); Daughters of Necessity, Hepworth, UK (2028); The Jug Choir, Camden Arts Centre (2016) and Missing Time, Baltic (2010).