Limited to 200 sets printed full colour bound in black cloth, slipcased,
covers blocked in copper tone, half-cloth with snake emboss spines.
Over 250 pages facsimile reproduction of the original sketchbooks
Large format 290 x 205 mm
1 in stock
The book is a full colour over 250 page reproduction in large format, a combination of two extensive art books produced by the initiated witch and pop-mural artist John ‘Albion’ Upton (1933-2005)
John Upton left a full 13 sketchbooks and designs for an initiated Tarot deck which comprise the story, workings, heritage and Book of Shadows of the original initiated Ayrshire Wica (‘The Wica’ as it is known).
The two sketchbooks reproduced here tell the stories of the trials and executions of three Scottish witches: Isobel Gowdie, Aleson Piersom and Bessie Dunlop, and form a remarkable connection to both the initiated practice of witchcraft and the folklore of Scotland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries up to the present era.
John Uptons artworks are a dazzling and explosive mix of vibrant colour coming from his involvement with the subculture of psychedelia among artists in Brighton in the 1960s.
With collage, numerous physical inclusions on the original pages (including feathers, plants, talismans and photographs), sections of the work physically opening up as doorways, images powerfully erotic and pansexual: John Upton tells the story of witchcraft through the practice of the craft itself fusing faery lore and channelled voices in a vibrant modern graphic novel style. Through the imagery by which he recounts the stories, John Upton divulges initiated witch lore: the ritual and sexual practices by which the devotee became immersed in the sabbat.
‘Isobel Gowdie continues to cast a glamour about her: she appears in the form of a hare, a crow, or as a jackdaw; she deals death from upon high and gleans scraps from a neighbours table. She goes unnoticed by laird and preacher, above ground, but is treated as an equal by the king and queen of faeries below. Her marriage bed is only for sleeping; but she thrills to Satan’s illicit black touch and to the ice cold drip of his semen upon her ivory thighs..’
Dr. John Callow
One person who came to be enchanted and inspired by Gowdies evocative tales, was the artist and initiate of The Wica, John Upton, and it is his work which re-imagines Isobel Gowdie, vividly and specifically, within the context of modern witchcraft and ritual.
John Uptons life was every bit as interesting, and as varied, as his artistic work. A professional boxer in his youth, a counter-cultural anarchist, mural painter, sculptor and associate of Bill Butler, the radical publisher and homosexual poet late of the legendary Unicorn Bookshop which in the 1960’s was a centre for Beat culture literature and banned pornography including early work by J.G.Ballard.