Title: "The Banshee of Clan Caomhánach" by Laurie McClave
Medium: Watercolor, pastel, graphite and acrylic on mounted rice paper
Size: 12"x18" Unframed 13"x19" Framed
Story behind this piece: Traditionally, when a person died a woman would sing a lament at the funeral. These women are referred to as "keeners" and the best keeners would be in high demand. Legend has it that for great Gaelic families – the O'Gradys, the O'Neills, the Ó Longs, the McCnaimhíns, the Ua Briain, the Ó Conchobhairs, and the Caomhánachs – the lament would be sung by a fairy woman; having foresight, she would sing it when a family member died, even if the person had died far away and news of their death had not yet come, so that the wailing of the banshee was the first warning the household had of the death.In later versions, the banshee might appear before the death and warn the family by wailing. When several banshees appeared at once, it indicated the death of someone great or holy. The tales sometimes recounted that the woman, though called a fairy, was a ghost, often of a specific murdered woman, or a mother who died in childbirth.Banshees are frequently described as dressed in white or grey, often having long, pale hair which they brush with a silver comb, a detail scholar Patricia Lysaght attributes to confusion with local mermaid myths. This comb detail is also related to the centuries-old traditional romantic Irish story that, if you ever see a comb lying on the ground in Ireland, you must never pick it up, or the banshees (or mermaids – stories vary), having placed it there to lure unsuspecting humans, will spirit such gullible humans away.
Artist Bio: Laurie McClave, prolific figure and fantasy artist, features myth, legend and vision in her female representations of the elegant goddess and mystical divine. Precise and bold, her work helps us imagine moral, ethical and political import while simultaneously wowing us with sophistication and style.
Ghost Stories Art Show