Paintings by Carolyn Hillyer

This cycle of paintings describes nine primordial women called udegan, a name that has its roots in an ancient far-northern word meaning grandmother, elder, shaman, healer, wise woman and witch. These udegan represent a women’s mystery tradition that reaches back over 25,000 years into the heart of the last great ice age, a living mythology that holds and protects the most ancient forms of spirit and magic that our foremothers called out from the deep belly of the frozen northern landscape. The udegan have always sat in council, a sisterhood that serves to remind us of our foremothers and the landscapes through which they moved. In remembering the ancient women who walked this land before us we are reminded to tread our own paths with strength, integrity and courage. By feeling how closely our foremothers are standing to our lives, and by touching the place where they dwell inside of us, we are given new eyes through which to see. In honouring our foremothers we grow to understand fully our own responsibilities as women of spirit on this earth. Through one thousand generations of women, this council of ice mothers has kept the embers glowing of a spiritual culture that is buried far inside the old bones of the land. They speak to women of a raw untouched mythology that is our own.

Each udegan has her own drum (created from red deer, reindeer, horse, elk and salmon skin) all of which were made, together with all the totems that appear in the paintings and an Arctic chum (sacred drum tent), to  accompany the installation Northern Sisterhood of Drums 2005-2007. The album ICE contains the songs that accompany this series of paintings. The original paintings were painted 2004-2006 and are 4 ft/120 cms square, acrylic on board. The prints are on A4 (31×21 cms) heavy art card. Click onto any print to view the full description.