Jesse Bransford - A Book of Staves
In A Book of Staves, New York-based artist Jesse Bransford (born 1972) offers a series of delicate drawings that find inspiration in the wild landscapes, folk magic and medieval poetic texts of Iceland. Here, we find the old spoken spells of the Hávamál rendered as image, the traditional "staves" of low Icelandic magic. Titles such as Make an Enemy Fear You and To Trap Shape-Shifted Witches speak of a culture where danger and the unknown were close at hand. Born from a major collaborative project in 2014, many of these spells were conceived and developed during Bransford's visits to Iceland. As visual expressions of the Poetic Edda and runic lore, these images represent an original contemporary interpretation of the traditional Icelandic magical heritage. Bransford's work is punctuated with excerpts from Carolyne Larrington's lauded translation of the Hávamál, prefaced with a statement from the artist and augmented with an introduction from Robert J. Wallis. The texts are offered in both English and Icelandic.