Katelan V. Foisy is a visual artist, writer, and occultist. She paints, she writes, she photographs and she is also a witch; a woman of many talents.
I was first attracted to her work some years ago when I happened upon it via Instagram. I was struck by the beautiful colours and the vintage style that transports you back in time.
Please…do not hesitate, pull back the velvet curtain and open yourself up to the magical world of Katelan Foisy.
Greek mythology created quite the monster. Her once beautiful hair had being turned into snakes, her gaze was to turn people into stone – Medusa was the ultimate monstrous female.
Medusa, in Greek mythology, the most famous of the monster figures known as Gorgons. She was usually represented as a winged female creature having a head of hair consisting of snakes; unlike the Gorgons, she was sometimes represented as very beautiful. Medusa was the only Gorgon who was mortal; hence her slayer, Perseus, was able to kill her by cutting off her head. From the blood that spurted from her neck sprang Chrysaor and Pegasus, her two sons by Poseidon. The severed head, which had the power of turning into stone all who looked upon it, was given to Athena, who placed it in her shield; according to another account, Perseus buried it in the marketplace of Argos.
Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica
It was obvious that painters, sculptors, and poets were to take this hideous creature and immortalise her in their work.
Sylvia Plath wrote her poem Medusa, using her characteristics as an allegory for her own relationship with her Mother.
If we step into the art world, we know that many painters have made Medusa their subject, some depict both her pain and beauty.
There was the 1964 film Gorgon made by Hammer Studios that depicted her characteristics and terrifying demeanour that was to scare horror fans all over the world.
Medusa will always be a curious creature to anyone that comes across her whether in poetry or literature. She is both a monster and an inspiration to those that want to frighten in their peculiar tales. Some will warn you of her. Some will be under her spell and others will be turned to stone.
We are all pages in a book
Portuguese photographer Nuno Moreira has just released a new artist book, entitled “ERRATA.”, in a completely handmade edition, of which only 50 copies were made. All carefully bound, numbered and signed by hand.
The artist explains that “with this book, I intended to create a unique and enigmatic object that escaped the idea of being easily labelled as a photobook. In my opinion, it is more of an “object-book”, being closer to an object and less of a book. It was designed to stimulate the senses, having an intimate and very elliptical perception curve, due to the very nature of what was photographed.”
As is usual in Moreira’s editions, he invites writers to look upon the atmosphere of the images and create a text. This time the invitation was made to David Soares, a renowned author in the world of comics and novels of historical and occult themes.
Moreira says that “it is very important to mention the participation of the writer David Soares in this edition because the result is, in my view, very well achieved. When I invite an author to write a text for a book, what I try to do is see how his authorial style combines with mine, as disparate languages can take on new contours. What fascinates me about this visual game between image and text is what we build in the intersection of these two languages (writing with words and with light) – that is, what the reader can imagine. Since this is a book that pays direct homage to literature and imagination, David was instrumental in creating an object so unusual and special.
ERRATA. is available on the author’s website at: nmphotos.org/
Arthur Machen is an author I had been dying to indulge in for many years. My ever-growing reading list was out of control and by the off chance, I happened upon a compilation of his stories in Foyles on Charing Cross Road in London. Instead of adding this to the pile, I simply picked it up and began reading it.
As I began to read his story The Great God Pan, I was so intrigued by the writer that my immediate action was to delve into the world of Machen himself of which I started to find some parallels to myself as a person and a writer.
Like myself, Machen was born in Wales and grew up in the countryside. The landscape he grew up in was Monmouthshire and the history that accompanied this wonderful land made an impression on him at a very early age. It ignited a love for the supernatural, fantasy and horror.
Wales is a place full of rich history and folklore and my interest in folklore was nurtured early on by my grandmother that told me tales of witches and ghosts – I believe she was the reason I have such a great interest in the occult.
In 1894, The Great God Pan was published; this was his first major piece of work. It sold incredibly well and went into its second edition possibly due to its outlandish themes and content. Machen was associated with the occult world and having made friends with A.E. Waite his interest in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn didn’t last long although he did hold a lifelong interest in mysticism.
His literary career was very much based on the belief that there is a mysterious world beyond our own, that our normal world harbours more than what we just see and this is reflected in his work. Despite a religious upbringing, it did not alter his curiosity for the supernatural and the occult.
Looking beyond The Great God Pan, his work has a richness, its denseness is not to bore but to grip and pull you into the world he has created. Everything is so beautifully descriptive that you can see, smell and feel the terror that lurks within the pages of the book.
Growing up, I always believed that a realm existed that we couldn’t always see. There were glimpses that were left unexplained or they were “just my imagination”. My projection of this belief heavily influences my writing and research work – it will continue to intrigue me until my time comes and I can truly see what is on the other side.
Image: Clerkenwell Post
Weird fiction conjures up ideas of the supernatural, ghastly horror and the Gothic; this collection of wonderful tales doesn’t disappoint. With Halloween fast approaching, the dark evenings accompanied by candlelight – this book is the perfect companion to an evening of weird.
Women’s Weird is a collection edited by Melissa Edmundson and features thirteen women writers from 1890-1940, each individually handpicked to give you not only a scare but also food for thought on the idea of everyday life becoming rather weird.
The stories explore a vast array of ideas and occurrences that feed into our human psyche, the scares and the fear that we hear about in folklore and legend come to the surface in these stories. In some cases, these tales go beyond our primal fears and go into the world of the surreal, opening up new ideas and new fears for us to process.
The stories of years gone by often centred around ghosts, for example, a master of his craft M.R James spooked his readers with characteristic settings and afflicted spectres however, Women’s Weird, although in a similar vein, has the ability to take a normal life and turn it on its axis in the most frightening way. The book explores everything from supernatural entities to everyday objects taking on a life of their own.
Another reason why this collection is so special is its theme of the woman writer. Each story has a deeper meaning than just the plot, there are stories here that have taken our innermost anxieties and externalised them in order to produce the wonderful stories we have in front of us today.
Paul Nougé popped up via Pinterest, usually a treasure trove of images for those of us who miss it the first time around. As a fan of surrealism and in particular photography; he intrigued me.
Between 1929 and 1930 he took an ordinary and rather inexpensive camera and starting taking photographs. They are at first glance seemingly normal looking scenes depicting scenes of people but if you look closer, they aren’t quite as ordinary as you first thought. They evoke a feeling of a by-gone era, weird scenes akin to Victorian parlours that hosted supernatural goings-on. What is also rather extraordinary about these images is how well lit, composed and photographed they are, little is known about Nougé and from what I can gather, he hadn’t prior experience of photography.
In 1968, a small book of his images was edited and published by Marcel Marien in a limited edition of 230 copies, half a year after Paul Nougé’s death, it was called The Subversion of Images. This book is now due to be republished in November 2019 for those of you who want to keep a more permanent edition of his work. Paul Nougé was a leading light of Belgian surrealism and continues to inspire many aspiring photographers and artists that wish to dabble in the world of the surrealists.
Stephen Volk. Now there is a name that makes me sit up and listen.
I reviewed his novella, Whitstable a little while ago and was so enveloped in its beautiful story I remember carrying the feeling I had around with me for quite some time. Fast forward a few years and I welcome The Dark Masters Trilogy onto my reading pile. I was not disappointed.
The trilogy consists of three novellas, all with central characters that the seasoned horror fan will know very well. We have the wonderful Peter Pushing in Whitstable, Alfred Hitchcock in Leytonstone and a duo that I think would have been a joy to watch if they had met; the novelist Dennis Wheatley and the notorious occultist Aleister Crowley. Yes -what a cast of characters I hear you cry, and I quite agree. I won’t reveal too much as I beg you to purchase this gorgeous trilogy and be devoured by the words of a true horror master.
The first in this wonderful trio is Whitstable featuring Peter Cushing who is grief-stricken over the loss of his wife, he is mistaken for his Hammer persona Van Helsing by a young boy and is asked to undertake a spot of vampire hunting.
Leytonstone features the cinematic legend, Alfred Hitchcock. The story explores rather wonderfully the very foundations of Hitchcock’s interest in crime and punishment; pursuing it to the point that exposes what truly fuels a heart of darkness.
And finally there is Netherwood. This is a story that you wish was a true account, two high profile personalities; Aleister Crowley and Dennis Wheatley come together to undertake a final magical working to combat evil.
Each story is beautifully written and deeply respectful to the figures we know and love in the history of magic and horror. Stephen Volk has quite a gift and the trilogy is consistently brilliant. The dialogue is seamless, the plots have an addictive pace that urges you turn pages quicker than your fingers can manage. This is a writer that is absolutely at the top of his craft.
Welder Wings is an artistic duo specialising in digital collage work. Francisco Abril and Nuria Velasco create art with a truly hellish twist from morbid scenes to anatomical nightmares.
You can find a catalogue of their work on Instagram @welderwings
Denis Forkas Kostromitin currently resides in Moscow, Russia. His work is exquisite and could sit quite comfortably next to the work of William Blake with a clear love for the romantic age whilst gently weaving in elements of the macabre, death, religion and folklore. It is a beautifully dark world that one can lose themselves in.
You can find more of his work here
Bryan began his career as a sculptor in 1984, working on many horror films such as the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Jumanji, Mortal Kombat, Underworld 2 and The Cave and Backwater. His TV work includes Tales from the Darkside, Monsters, Love and Curses and the new Sci-Fi Channel special Monsters of the UFO.
He then spent five years as a staff sculptor at Mattel Toys working on such classic brands as Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Disney products.
In 2002, Bryan opened Arkham Studios and began to create occult and literary figures including such people as Anton Lavey and more recently H.P. Lovecraft. I caught up with Bryan to find out a little more about what inspires him and how he got to be involved in the world of film and TV.
So tell me, what are your first memories of discovering the world of horror?
When I was a kid, there were only 13 television stations and a few of them would show the old black and white Universal horror films every weekend, so there was ALWAYS an excellent education for horror. Also, the legendary Aurora Models were in full swing then, so it was a great time for a monster obsessed kid to grow up in. Pop culture REALLY was good to so many impressionable kids then. Along came the late seventies with now classic horror films like Dawn of the Dead and Fangoria magazine and man! I was hooked!
You have made some amazing pieces, how did you discover that sculpting would ultimately become your livelihood?
Well, as I mentioned, the great monsters of the Aurora plastics company were such an influence, but I never figured out the mechanics of how to sculpt something without the clay falling apart, so I drew instead. Keep in mind that those were the days before many TV shows and books would tell you HOW a clay figure was created, so to me that world simply didn’t exist. It wasn’t until the eighties came along that the garage kit hobby sort of happened, which was started by the Japanese. Garage kits were simply that: a sculptor would create a clay figure of a favorite movie monster in their garage, mold it and pump out as many resin copies as they could, stick the resin pieces in a zip-loc baggie and go down to the local hobby shop and ask the owner if they would sell them. Once the hobby caught on, it exploded almost overnight. It was a great time of learning, making new friends and really pushing your own art level and skill. I’m extremely fortunate in that
my drive to succeed, throw away my ego and be willing to learn from anyone that I could helped me to establish a career in the toy and consumer product world. I was a staff sculptor at Mattel Toys for many years and sculpted more Barbie shoes and Buzz Lightyear figures that I care to remember! The face of that business has changed, though and most toys are created in computer programs like Z-Brush and Maya these days. Very little is done by hand anymore.
As a fan of the franchise tell me how you got involved in working on A Nightmare on Elm Street?
Before I got into the toy business I was working on many, many horror films in my twenties. Back then you could make a living, but barely. It really depended on what FX shop you were able to find work at, or where you were willing to kiss ass or to be involved in the drug and party scene. Always being VERY anti-drug, it seemed to me that there was a LOT of that going on at the time and I never fit into that crowd. Didn’t want to, so I didn’t work as much as the guys who were willing to sacrifice their integrity to get jobs. Ah, youth……….anyway, yeah. I worked on a lot of horror films with numbers after the title and after a while that got really stale and old to me. I knew I was making rubber monsters for a living ,not finding the cure for cancer, but the showcase for all your hard work seemed really low end, so I was looking for a way out. That was when the toy thing started happening for me. To answer your question, an art director for the old
Tales from the Darkside show that I worked on called me up and said “Hey! we need 200 skeletons for the new Freddy movie! Can you knock ’em out? You’re workshop will be right across the street from the LA County Jail!” As the Wizard of Oz said…..”Times being what they were, I took the job.”
Well, I think an interest in the occult might go hand in hand with an interest in horror, so I read lots of books on Crowley and LaVey and immediately recognized them for the carnies and showmen that they were. Some would say charlatans, but to me a charlatan is someone without a sense of humor. Crowley came off more like a druggie and a trust fund brat, but I liked LaVey and his philosophy. That interest led to my ten year involvement with the Church of Satan which I recently distanced myself from. In the ten years that I was involved with it, I can truly say that I did my best to raise the bar for that organization, especially creating and producing the Satanic High Mass held on 6/6/06. It was the largest gathering of Satanists in the world. It’s never happened before and I highly doubt it will ever happen again. How do I know this? It’s HARD WORK, that’s why. I’m driven in ways that most others aren’t. LaVey’s whole basis for his philosophy was to foster “real world accomplishment”. Very few people seem to grasp this concept and put it into action.
I’m still very much into the occult and the study of the subject. It’s fascinating reading and my library is growing every week with old, forgotten tomes. Many objets de’ arte in my home are of an occult nature, mostly my own work. A current study is Satan himself, or at least a very Miltonian Satan. I’m inspired by the depictions of Satan in the works of Gustav Dore’ and many others. The Dore Bible and his illustrated “The Inferno” is wonderful reference if you’re interested in the Devil. Another influence is the guidance of my mentor Kenneth Anger, who has graciously given me countless books and photographs of other artist’s renditions of the Devil and specifically Lucifer. So much so that I incorporated Anger’s face into a recent bust of Lucifer that I created. He’s been a true friend and like a father to me. He’s the real deal all the way and I’m extremely fortunate to count him as a treasured friend.
H.P Lovecraft has obviously been a huge influence in your work, tell me, how did you come across his works and what is it about his work that inspires you?
Well, like many, I encountered Lovecraft as a teen in dusty old paperbacks, but his work hadn’t really been a part of modern culture like it is today. Once I saw films based on his work, it really opened up a whole cottage industry for many others to become artists, writers, sculptors, et al to use his life and work as an influence. I’m no exception as many pieces that I sculpt are based on his work. I even made a film based on his story “Cool Air” and am quite proud of it. It’s always VERY flattering when strangers write or approach me at film festivals and say that it’s one of the most faithful adaptations of his work that they’ve seen. The success of “Cool Air” just helped me secure financing for my next Lovecraft film, although i can’t announce it yet. Needless to say, we shoot in may, 2014 and it’s the story you’ve been waiting for. 😉
We can’t do an interview without mentioning the HP Lovecraft bust. Why did you decide this had to happen?
The HP Lovecraft bronze bust happened out of hardship. I had just bought my first home and was counting on three toy sculpting jobs. They all fell through in the same week that I closed escrow so I needed to figure something out fast. I thought I’d like to try my hand at a lifesize bust, but had never done a bronze bust before. None of it happened overnight and it took a long time to simply find a location in Providence, Rhode Island that would take it. No one wanted it. I called Jovanka Vuckovic, who I had known for a long time and she was really the genius behind securing the funding for it through the Kickstarter funding platform. Once Jovanka had laid out the business strategy for the project, we were off and running and worked from the USA and Canada for six months, often putting in 18 hour days. So many gracious folks helped to fund the project including film industry giants Guillermo del Toro, Frank Darabont, Stuart Gordon and many others. I am
beyond humbled at the generosity of so many wonderful people and it’s a kindness that I never take for granted. I blubbered like a baby at the unveiling and it was easily one of the greatest moments of my life. The real accomplishment came when the project team and I were able to make a sizeable donation in Lovecraft’s name to the Children’s Literacy Program in the Providence Community Library system.
And finally, what are your upcoming plans that you can share with our readers?
Sure thing. Right now I’m finishing writing the script for my next film and just got back from a location scout in Boston Harbor. It’s a Lovecraft story and we’ll be shooting next May. It’s a period piece and one of his most well known stories. Sometimes I wake up wondering when this dream come true will end, but it doesn’t seem to be. I’m not dumb enough to question it.