Many things are troubling me on a personal, social and political level at the moment, and many of these may trouble you as well: division and the tendency for “them/us” thinking; violent responses to gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and faith; inequality, oppression and intolerance; knife crime; poverty; social media and its impact on people’s body image and sense of self; consumer culture and fast fashion; addiction and compulsion; climate change, pollution and waste; grief and loss – and the frenetic pace of life, work, and the overload of information/misinformation that’s currently available to people living in first world countries.
I’m aware, given this context, that it may seem like I’m living in some kind of artsy bubble, to be releasing an animated video based on a traditional Scots ballad about two shapeshifters at this time. But traditional songs and stories capture something timeless that speaks to the human condition – to here, and now. And in the re-telling, I can (as folk have always done) adapt/rewrite the story/my story/history/her-story.
As described in the Last Leaves of Aberdeen Ballads and Ballad Airs, where a fragment of the lyric was written down, “Twa Magicians” is a tale “of a blacksmith who importunately woos a lady. To escape him she turns herself by magical power into many shapes…but the suitor has the same chameleon faculty, and contrives to counter each metamorphosis by another that fits it.”
One thing I’ve found myself repeating (to myself, and to others) in several contexts over the past days and weeks is: “you can’t control anyone else, or what happens to you. You can only control how you react and what you do.” In this story, in response to a situation which she does not welcome, the girl uses her (magical) power to change herself, and to act. And she keeps changing, adapting, transforming and moving forward, as she finds herself in new and challenging situations…that makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve never had a fixed sense of identity or self – for me these things seem much more fluid. And magic is never far away! I hope you enjoy this beautiful animation of Twa Magicians by Eleonore Dambre – it’s been a pleasure working with her on the project.