Unnatural Histories IX
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Our ninth annual group exhibition. Artists are asked to depict mythical creatures from existing lore, or their own imagination, with reference to traditional natural history paintings, drawings and sculpture. The descriptions accompanying the works are penned by the artist. 
Nicole Evans
Gentle Giant
Oil on wood panel (not framed), 12"x12"
For countless years the Gentle Giant has roamed, its head amongst the clouds though still not yet full grown. Wading through oceans, striding across rivers and desert plains all with ease, one can only imagine what this enigma sees. What the creature is in search of remains a mystery, another giant to stride alongside perhaps, a change from its lonely history.

Jake Messing
Amethystos Callinectes
Acrylic on Canvas, 20"x30"
Amethystos Callinectes. A species of swimming crabs now believed to be extinct.
The Greek word "amethystos" may be translated as "not drunken": a = “not" and
methustos = "intoxicated". And Callinectes: Calli = "beautiful", nectes = "swimmer".

A reference to the belief that the stone was an antidote against drunkenness. The
ancient Greeks wore amethyst jewelry and carved drinking vessels from it in the belief
that it would prevent intoxication. These mythical crabs would allegedly grow Amethyst crystals on their bodies and were prized during the height of the Ancient Greek civilization. Their shells, claws and legs were harvested in vast numbers and used extensively for the Greek Aristocrats symposia; A convivial meeting for drinking, music, and intellectual discussion. These mythical creatures are now believed to be extinct but there have been a few unconfirmed sightings in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, specifically around the sunken city of Pavlopetri.

Vasilisa Romanenko
Acrylic on Wood Panel, 16"x20"
The firebird is a magical bird from Slavic mythology that is said to be made of fire. This bird has brilliant plumage consisting of yellows, oranges, and reds. It’s coloring is so bright that it can appear to glow, and can set off sparks in the night sky. It is said that one can illuminate a dark room with a single firebird tail feather. The firebird is elusive and not particularly friendly, and very few have been lucky enough to spot one. Many have tried to capture the firebird, but few have succeeded.

Jeremy Nichols
What the F*** is Happening?
Acrylic on Wood Panel, 18"x24"
Imagine waking up to pandemics, protests, wildfires, droughts, wars, hurricanes, automated vehicles, climate change, tik toc, virtual reality, amazon, violence, the list endlessly goes on. So many things have rapidly changed in the past year, let alone the past decade, that I often found myself asking, “what is f*** happening ?”
Along with the rise of technology, we are constantly manipulating the world’s natural landscape for the benefit of human beings. In return, nature fights back with more and more catastrophic natural disasters which is a vicious cycle that is devastating to the population and animals alike.
In this piece, I wanted to take on the “world” in the perspective of the animals. Imagine waking
up to fires caused by gender reveal parties, mounds of garbage in your yard, strange objects driving through your backyard, giant dams in your homes, the heater is suddenly on, and the countless unrecognizable/unnatural “things” invading your natural world. I often think the animals are asking themselves everyday, “what the f*** is happening”.

Rebecca Luncan
Summers End
Oil on Copper, 11"x14" (17.5"x20.5" framed)
Vibrance was captured as a filly, along other foals from her herd, her magic used in a protracted war to cure wounds and cleanse water for drinking. When the war ended, Vibrance languished for years as the last surviving captive, held against the chance her magic would be needed again.
One day salvation came for Vibrance. Molly was a young orphan with deep love for horses, and the two were instantly bonded. Molly cared for Vibrance for many months, exercising in secret until they were strong enough to escape. The companions shared many adventures together, and Molly enjoyed a long life by the side of her best friend.
Here Vibrance stands at the shore of an island in the Pacific Northwest. She has lived a long life full of suffering and joy, which is the best any of us can hope for. Her own filly runs nearby in the forests of the island, while Vibrance warms her bones in the sunshine, under the great, free sky.

Kristin Kwan
Oil on Panel, 12"x24"
Absurd, this winged watcher
Awaits the answer veiled
Who lives, who dies she moans
        - a riddle in travail
Atop her perch of stone

She’s hungry for your answers
But will make do with bone

Irene Lopez Leon
Boo in Wonderland
Acrylic on Canvas, 18"x24"
“In modern society, myth is often regarded as a collection of stories. Scholars in the field of cultural studies research how myth has worked itself into modern discourses. Mythological discourse can reach greater audiences than ever before via digital media. Various mythic elements appear in television, cinema and video games.

Although myth was traditionally transmitted through the oral tradition on a small scale, the film industry has enabled filmmakers to transmit myths to large audiences via film. In Jungian psychology myths are the expression of a culture or society’s goals, fears, ambitions and dreams.

The basis of modern visual storytelling is rooted in the mythological tradition. Many contemporary films rely on ancient myths to construct narratives. The Walt Disney Company is well-known among cultural study scholars for "reinventing" traditional childhood myths. While many films are not as obvious as Disney fairy tales, the plots of many films are based on the rough structure of myths. Mythological archetypes, such as the cautionary tale regarding the abuse of technology, battles between gods and creation stories, are often the subject of major film productions. These films are often created under the guise of cyberpunk action films, fantasy, dramas and apocalyptic tales”

David Rice
Mantidae Patientia
Acrylic on Panel, 9"x12"
“The rarest of all the mantids, the ‘Patient Mantis’ is known for its ability to stay completely still in one place for extended periods of time waiting for prey. If its surroundings become uninhabitable, it will go into a state of hibernation and wait for its environment to change around it, awaking once its surroundings are again favorable for maintaining life. The oldest known Patient Mantis were found in Death Valley, California, and are believed to have been hibernating for roughly 10,000 years, waiting for the area to revert from its desert landscape back to the temperate forest it once was during the Pleistocene era.”

Alfred Liu
Pencil & Acrylic on Paper
"Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"

David Lee Pereira
The Passion Fruit
Acrylic and Resin on Panel, 12"x12"
This body of work references and challenges the institutionalised stigmatisation of sexuality in the name of religion. When I was younger I was always drawn to the ‘forbidden’ and never understood why Eve wasn’t allowed to eat from the tree of knowledge? When I questioned this story to the elders they very confidently explained that ‘she was told not to eat the fruit’, but for me, that wasn’t enough. I learned that the fruit was knowledge, education and sexual liberation and power, onanism and feminine magic.
Eat the fruit.

James Thistlethwaite
Charcoal & Acrylic on Paper, 16"x16"

A Giant Protector of London named after the Oaks of Albion


"A giant stood tall with the tenacity and charm that is London- can only be a dog." 

Matthew Rucker
Blue Dala Quilter
Oil on Canvas, 22"x14"
Region: Exclusively found within Dalarna County, Sweden
Characteristics: The Blue Dala Quilter - affectionately known as the Swedish
Thief - is one of the only birds in the animal kingdom that uses tools. Unlike its Asian cousin (the Tailorbird) the Quilter does not use natural elements, such as leaves and plant fibers, to build its nests. Instead, the Quilter steals* pieces of fabric, thread, and sewing needles from local craftspeople, and uses those elements to skillfully sew its nest. The assembly of random shapes and
colors of fabric gives each nest the unique look of a patchwork quilt.
The floor of Quilter nests is typically grass and small fabric strips, though it’s not
uncommon to find cotton batting inside. Quilters usually suspend their nests from
tree branches with yarn or decorative ribbon. It is believed that these nests were
the inspiration for modern Christmas ornaments.
The nests are built by a nesting pair, which mate for life. The males are a rich indigo with black beak and wings. The females are light blue with blueish grey wings.
* It could be hardly considered stealing anymore, as it is now traditional for locals to put out all of the materials the birds could wish for, in hopes the Quilter will choose their offering.

Matthew Rucker
Skirted Shark
Oil on Canvas, 32"x18"
Region: The northern Atlantic Ocean
Characteristics: This elegant shark is a large and deadly hunter. Considering its
size (averaging 18 to 26 feet in length) and its long flowing fins, the Skirted Shark
is not a fast swimmer. Instead, it hunts via slow stealth attacks. Its graceful fins
allow it to move so soundlessly that its prey almost never knows it is approaching.
Skirted Sharks do not migrate, and have a relatively small home range. It prefers cold and dark environments, usually spending its days between 1800 and 3000 feet below the surface, occasionally feeding on squid and jellyfish. At night, it moves to shallower water to hunt catshark, small whales, and a variety of fish.
This species was first discovered during an exploratory submersible dive in 1998, near the southern tip of Greenland. None were seen again until 2016. No Skirted Shark has ever been photographed or captured. Remains have been found on three occasions since their discovery. One of these, found on the shore of Newfoundland, was estimated to have been over 200 years old when it died.

Matthew Rucker
Eurasian Deer Fox
Oil on Canvas, 24"x36"
Region: The western Steppes of Russia
Characteristics: The Eurasian Deer Fox is one of the most elusive creatures in the animal kingdom. They are rarely seen by people, as they actively avoid the sounds, lights, and smells that accompany human activity. Their long legs and sleek bodies make them fast and skillful hunters. They are equally adept at sprinting over the vast steppe as they are darting through the forests at the feet of the Ural Mountains. Their main prey are ground squirrels
and marmots, but they also eat berries, herbs, and grasses. They are also a prey animal to larger carnivores, such as brown bears and grey wolves. Lone animals are not fast enough to catch a Deer Fox - they can only be caught with coordinated group attacks. As Deer Fox are hard to find, study is limited. It is unknown what it uses its antlers for, or how this unique adaptation developed in an omnivore, as they are the only known meat-eater to grow antlers. There is some anecdotal information about them gathered from Eurasian
nomadic groups, as they consider Deer Fox sacred animals. The nomads revere them as the embodiment of duality and universal balance. The Deer Foxes’ desire for privacy is so respected by local herdsmen and nomads that it is considered extremely unlucky to look at, let alone kill, a Deer Fox. However, it is acceptable to take antlers found on the steppe, paint them half black - half white, and display them above their doorway.

Double Parlour
Panthera Pardus
hand sculpted resin, acrylic paint, varnish , 14” tall x 7” wide x 4” deep (free standing)
Son of a parde and lioness, the Pardus is a hybrid creature. The Pardus has inherited his father’s bloodthirsty nature and a penchant for mayhem. Each spot on the Pardus’ body represents a sin. His young masked followers chant quietly. The girl’s kitsune mask depicts her power to shape shift. The boy’s oni mask represents his accomplished abilities as a sorcerer. The demon whispers incessantly into their ears. He provides guidance to the group in their misadventures.

Gustavo Rimada
acrylic on wood,
Who is Huitzilopochtli - He was the Aztec god of the Sun and war. He is often depicted as a hummingbird.

Aztecs used to offer human sacrifices to Huitzilopochtli . The victims were usually prisoners captured in the frequent wars that Aztecs were fighting against their neighbors. The sacrifices were intended to secure rain, harvests and success in war. The hummingbird is often worn by warriors as a necklace for good luck . The hummingbird is white to represent purity, it’s wing is of a butterfly to represent our ancestors and it’s blood drop eye is a representation of the many sacrifices for huitzilopochtli. The rose represents the universe in which huitzilopochtli ( the sun ) rules.

Allison May Kiphuth
watercolor on hand-cut paper on panel, sealed with encaustic,
6" diameter x 7/8" deep
Description to follow.

Steve Martinez
Kukulkan AKA Quetzalcoatl
acrylic on wood, 12"x12"
Kukulkan is a deity in Mesoamerican culture and literature whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and means "Precious serpent" or "Quetzal-feathered Serpent” and it is believed that this deity had a head of a bird with the body of a serpent with feathers instead of scales. This deity is known as Kukulkan in Mayan culture that spans from the Yucatan to Guatemala and known as Quetzalcoatl in Aztec culture that spans most of Mexico. This particular deity is the god of wind, air, and learning. My piece is a representation of the deity's head that decorates the Temple of the Feathered Serpent at the Ciudadela complex in Teotihuacan, Mexico.

Susannah Kelly
Remember Me As I Was
graphite on paper, 13.5"x17"
"Wake to the cold desert air, creep slowly from the hiding place. Run to the cliff to meet the dawn, breathe deep and let go"

Kim Slate
Feed the Good Wolf
Clay, epoxy, gouache
In every heart, a battle rages between two wolves. One is evil and darkness, the other is goodness and light. Which one will win?
The one you feed.

Ryan Moon
The Melody
23”x32”, Oil on glass LED backlit
A song of sorrow echoes through the waves.
Forsaken by the depths, abandon by the soul.
She asks you to forgive her.

The Outlyer
12" x 18" acrylic on ornate vintage floater panel
I was created by Artemis, God of Wild Animals and the hunt, chosen as a project of hers and Zues. Part owl, part butterfly and part fish. A collective of their favorite creatures. I was born in a pond in the middle of the Kanto Region in Japan in 500 BC. When I grew up my butterfly wings bloomed and I lived in the grasslands near the pond. I was brought to bring joy to the people but instead all I did was create chaos. I realized humans don’t like what they cannot understand.

It’s hard to exist in a society where you are condemned as a monster or a freak of nature just because you’re different. The people in the village closest to me think i’m a Shinigami or a God of Death, brought down to wreak vengeance on the region.

Its funny that they think I’m meant for evil, because that is so far from true... I actually bring sustenance to the land and a sense of magic to the people. Many have attempted to kill me on countless occasions and time after time they eventually realize I’m immortal. What they don’t realize is, if I died, the land would surely die with me.

Ulla-Stina Wikander
Swan Hairdryer
Found Object Needlepoint Embroidery Sculpture, Textile Art
Description to follow.

Kanny Yeung
Noctilucent qilin
Oil on Canvas, 20" diameter
The Noctilucent qilin is only visible during astronomical twilight, enveloped in icy fire leaving glowing ripples as it gallops across the dimming sky. A sighting of this benevolent creature is said to be the utmost auspicious sign, often announcing the birth of a sage.

Mike Schultz
Mango Dragon With Tree Spirit

Oil on Wood Panel, 12.5 x 15 inches (Framed, 17 x 19.5 inches)


In the jungles along the Thailand-Burma border, each mango tree has a ghost who watches over and protects it. Across Southeast Asia, where Buddhist culture has seamlessly melded with traditional, animist roots, it is believed to be bad luck to cut down and use the wood of a tree protected by a spirit, unless the wood is to be used to build a Buddhist monastery or temple, which neutralizes the misfortune.
In the case of the mango, the tree spirit is accompanied by a small serpent-dragon who acts as the guardian of the tree’s roots, and of the fruit, until it is ripened and ready to donate to the creatures of the forest— this aids in the spreading of the seeds and propagation of mango groves.
The tree spirit does not control the dragon, who is a smaller emanation of its water Naga
ancestors. Though the dragon is reptilian and wild by nature, it typically respects the tree spirit as a wise being and follows her watchful advice on how best to serve the tree. By evolution, the Mango Dragon has dark colored scales, as it is mostly crepuscular to fend off the twilight diners of the forest. During the daytime, it sleeps beneath the shadows of the long leaves of the mango, but it does guard the tree until the sun rises each morning.
About the tree spirit— in Thai, นางไม (pronounced, “Naang Mai”), นาง Naang (woman) + ไม Mai (tree), translates to “Lady of the Tree”, or “Tree Spirit”. Along the Thailand-Burma border, this variety of Naang Mai is known as ผแมมะมวง (pronounced “Phi Mae Ma-Muong”), ผ Phi (ghost) + แม Mae (mother) + มะมวง Ma-Muong (mango). Phi Mae Ma-Muong are not malicious ghosts— but they are motherly guardians of the tree, and will act accordingly to safeguard it.
Today in North-Western Thailand along the border, while coming across a Phi Mae Ma-Muong in a mango grove, one might be surprised to see that she is dressed in traditional Burmese attire, as the modern day borders do not apply to the spirit realm, and the crossover of cultures there has long been blurred.

A Western Buddhist monk from the Thai Forest Tradition, Ajahn Brahm, is fond of saying,
“When life gives you a truckload of animal dung on your doorstep, use it to fertilize your mango
tree”. It’s life’s challenges that bring growth and rebirth, and 2020 is indeed a year of fertilizer for our trees.

La Ciguapa
Watercolor, Gouache, Acrylic, Graphite, Charcoal, & Glass Beads on BFK Rives paper, 15"x17"
"tin marín de do pingüé
cúcara, mácara, títere fue,
alza la pata caballo blanco
mira ve' quien fue
O María, O José
¿Quién tiene lo pié alreve'?

El Cuco
Watercolor, Gouache, Acrylic, Graphite, Charcoal, & Glass Beads on BFK Rives paper, 15"x17"
"duérmete niño
duérmete ya
que si no duermes
el Cuco vendrá"

Caitlin Hackett
The Saint of the Herds
Watercolor, ink and acylic on paper, 11"x14"
Description to follow.

Lorren Lowrey
porcelain, wood plaque, 22"x12"x8"
Often depicted as a winged hermaphrodite with a goat-head, this supernatural being has been associated with the Devil but this hasn't always been the case. Intimately associated with the Occult and Witchcraft, this pagan deity is believed to represent the sum of the entire universe and all its opposing forces. Baphomet is a deity that represents and harmonizes both opposites
such as good and evil, male and female, etc.

Andrew Ghrist
Owner of Storms
gouache and acrylic on paper, 15"x22"
An indiginous tribe in Argentina called the Toba people have believed in powerful but benevolent little creatures called a Qasoǵonaǵas. The few descriptions speak of small anteaters with striped locks of rainbow hair and an ability to tame lightning. Well, to be completely honest they control all of the weather. Living amongst the clouds performing their celestial duty to keep meteorological balance in the ecosystem. They take their job very seriously, often surveying the plants and animals of the earth ensuring they are enduring but in their curiosity can find themselves falling to the earth by accident. One would think that an animal living so high would be able to fly, however these rainbow electric anteaters cannot fly but can walk and hop on the tops of clouds. Once on Earth the Qasoǵonaǵas are stuck on the surface until a human can find them and perform a ritual to return them to the sky. The Qasoǵonaǵas on its return to the sky will reward the performer of the ritual with Shamanistic powers.

Kate O'Hara
colored pencil and acrylic on vellum, 12"x17"
Sylphs are tiny messengers and companions to the gods. These minor deities are often mistaken for fairies or pixies–or go totally unnoticed, assumed to be commonplace animals. Each one is a hybrid of a mammal with insect wings, the most impressive is said to be the Death Head Fruit Bat. They spend their lives flitting unassumingly between the human and the spirit world, delivering messages and playing small tricks on people. When caught, their wings immediately disintegrate to dust, leaving no presence of their otherworldly nature.

Ruth Speer
The Rabbit Queen / Die Hasenkönigin
Oil on custom cut panel in antique resin frame, 12"x9"
"Three questions?" I said in dismay.
"Any three you wish," replied the rabbit queen.
I looked over the water, which was still as glass, and back at her again. "And if I ask the right ones, you'll tell me how to cross the lake?"
"If," the rabbit queen said darkly.
Dear me, this was very bad. I paced back and forth along the shore. The rabbit queen pretended not to watch while grooming her forepaws in a serene manner. Around us, as far as the eye could travel, there were only trees and mountains and the endless dead quiet of the lake. Suddenly I halted, turning back to face her.
"I have decided on my first question," I said. "Will you allow me to paint your portrait?"
The rabbit queen smiled a slow, sly smile.
And now, as she begins to speak, we must wait to hear what she will say.

Louise McNaught
Acrylic, oils, fluorescent and iridescent paint on canvas, 40"x40"
‘Cernunnos, (Celtic: “Horned One”) in Celtic religion, an archaic and powerful deity, widely worshipped as the “lord of wild things.” I usually have involved endangered species in my work but this time I went a step further, for inspiration I have used the Irish Elk - an extinct species with extraordinarily huge antlers to represent Cernunnos. Through history Cernunnos attributes were generally consistent. He often wore stag antlers and was sometimes accompanied by a stag and by a sacred ram-horned serpent that was also a deity in its own right. Cernunnos was worshipped primarily in Britain, although there are also traces of his cult in Ireland, which I thought the Irish Elk was a fitting incarnation.’