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Spook Season

Since it's currently October, why not think about one of humanity's favourite artistic traditions? Scaring each other with stories and depictions meant to chill the blood and soul.


The art of telling a scary story is one that requires precision, focus, skill, and sheer imagination.

The typical scene we imagine when describing a story like this would be the image of a small group of kids, crowded around a campfire. Orange flames illuminating terrified stares as the leader of the pack reaches the thrilling conclusion to his tale.

But even beyond that, it's a commonality amongst any gathering of people to try to scare one another. Horror stories, rumours of beasts in the woods, exaggerated from a simple bear into a vengeful spirit who hunts the unworthy or selfish. We are a species of surrealists, and we love nothing more than to make our friends and family jump with terror.


It's no secret that old rumours become new stories, and these rumours can come from any source. One of the more commonplace stories , gaining fame in recent years, is the tale of the Wendigo. There are artworks depicting the spirit of greed possessing a human, driving them to fall sick. The fever overtakes them and their greed misshapes them into a monster.

This is used both as a cautionary tale by Native American tribes, not unlike the Skinwalker, who is mostly used simply to scare young children into being wary of wild animals.

Each of these beings is depicted numerous times through tales, both verbal and written, in long stories and short ones. Stories, books, and poems are all forms of art, so why not build a tale across multiple?


That is the real power of these monsters and stories. The power to be built upon by any listener, to be imagined by any reader. To be immortalised through the word of mouth.


But let me leave you with one thought as I conclude my Halloween rant.


If we learn our fears and phobias through evolution. If we know what danger is in the world through an instinctive route.

Then why do we fear things that are so close to human, but not quite right? Long arms, sharp teeth, sunken eyes? What gave us the idea that being scared of creatures with these traits would benefit us in the long run?


Happy Halloween.

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Sallie Ashe is an artist living in Doncaster, whose recent visits to Rio de Janeiro and Bahia in Brazil have inspired her current collection of paintings, mostly in acrylic paint. Her artworks feature

 
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