Hogmanay 2012: The Cult of Fortuna
Artists Walker & Bromwich tell us about their large-scale installation, part of Edinburgh's Hogmanay
This Hogmanay the Romans are coming. The invasion will be led by a huge inflatable goddess. Bringing up the rear will be two grinning and garrulous performance artists. Battle headquarters will be at the National Museum of Scotland. Zoe Walker, one half of inspiring art activism team Walker & Bromwich gives me the low-down from a safe house in Tyneside.
‘The project is called Lady Luck: The Cult of Fortuna. It’s a kind of rekindling of the Roman luck cult. The big theme of 2012/13 Hogmanay is luck and we wanted to look at it from a different perspective. We will bestow luck on people. It’s particularly tied into the Scottish perception of luck. During our research we unearthed artefacts of the Goddess Fortuna found around Scotland – artefacts created by German soldiers serving in the Roman army in the belief that they would change their fortune. In our show we will be trying to change fortunes with hats, a temple and a high priestess.’
The other half of this dynamic duo, and Walker’s real life partner, Neil Bromwich enters the conversation. ‘It’s linked to the Encampment of Eternal Hope project [pictured above] we currently have at the Baltic gallery. But at eight metres high, seven metres in diameter and with a four-metre hemisphere between the legs the Edinburgh installation is our biggest so far. We are very interested in participation, we require our audiences to participate and through that we hope we can transform perceptions. We want to transform people’s perceptions about their own luck. We are really interested in the whole theme of luck and rituals can affect our feelings about it.’
Citing The Wicker Man, Margaret Atwood, New Age culture, communes, surrealism, Hieronymus Bosch and Jean Cocteau as influences, Walker & Bromwich have a bit of a thing about inflatable plastic. The Cult of Fortuna continues this bold tradition.
‘I guess we work a lot with inflatables because of the temporal nature of the material, it’s poignant because it’s futuristic and fleeting and can be used as an emergency device,’ Walker explains. ‘It also fits in well with our larger nomadic ambitions for the creating encampment project work. Our work is a lot about narrative and addressing ideas of hope in this age of fear and anxiety. Humour is a good tool for changing the way people think.’
Much in demand, after Edinburgh Walker & Bromwich will be heading to Christchurch in New Zealand to create an encampment work that takes its lead from the city’s recent earthquakes. Despite potential moral, ethical and strategic challenges, these two like to let artistic light-heartedness and a communal bon ami be their guides.
Walker laughs: ‘As a couple we do seem to have a lot of in-jokes. We egg each other on and tend to create our own world and logic in our work.’
Lady Luck: The Cult of Fortuna, National Museum of Scotland, Sat 29 Dec–Tue 1 Jan.