Who’s been sleeping in my bed?
curated for the Fringe Arts Bath Festival | 26 May - 11 June 2023
It is not unreasonable to suppose that the first metaphor was animal. *
Artists working in a variety of media are invited to engage with notions of the animal or non-human creature and explore ‘the entangled lives of people and animals’ ** The theme is accessible and familiar, but rich enough to continue to produce new thoughts, especially as we face the issues of climate change, the loss of animal habitats, the pollution of the oceans and questions around the food we eat.
Work might encompass the familiar, sentimental or uncanny and draw from domestic or decorative representations of animals; through responses to the folk and fairy tale genre; or within the city of Bath, where examples of urban/rural co-existence may be found. Hybrid animal/human forms, dark interpretations of myths or humorous depictions of animals are tropes and autobiographical metaphors which span many historical periods and persist in the present day through fables, nursery rhymes, allegorical and biblical narratives. Reflecting upon such works makes us consider our relationship with animals within social and cultural history and other contexts including commodity, exploitation and human/animal inter reliance.
Ann-Marie Tully states that within art history, animals are often signifiers, ‘attaching affect or moral allegory to the humans they accompany... functioning as allegorical stand-ins for virtue or vice [of] ... a particular cultural and historical era’. ***
This might be an exhibition made with children in mind – extending audiences and offering ideas for workshops and participatory activities through play and storytelling. Inspired and influenced by different cultural reimaginings throughout the world, the animal motif is compelling; it has enduring potential as a model for tackling questions of our time where human truths can be revealed.
Fairytales speak through beasts to explore common experiences…
A tradition of articulate, anthropomorphised creatures of every kind is as old as literature itself ****
[1} Berger, John Why look at Animals Penguin, London (2009)
 Llewellyn, Thomas City of Beasts (2018)
 Tully, Ann-Marie The Rhetorical Animal (2010)
 Warner, Marina Animals in Fairy tales The Guardian, (Friday 16th October 2009) https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/oct/16/beastly-tales-warner