‘Persephone’s Urn’ is part of an ongoing series exploring the function of death and regeneration mythologies during the Anthropocene, an era defined by the destructive human impact on the earth. We humans have attempted to separate ourselves from the ecosystem, defying death and disrupting the natural cycles. Paradoxically, we cling to the mythological traditions that once held us in balance with nature. This work examines the role of mythology as mediator between human and natural worlds, in an age defined by catastrophe.
‘Persephone’s Urn’ represents a vessel of internment for Persephone, the goddess of the underworld who governs the seasonal and agricultural cycles in Greek mythology. Referencing both classical Greek amphorae and labyrinths in form, the urn is a paradoxical structure – a vessel that cannot contain that which it is designed to hold. In this case, the remains of Persephone, symbolised in the natural elements of sand and rock, whose mythological presence continues to permeate the contemporary culture that stands in violation of her laws.
This work asks the questions: what is the role of mythology in regaining environmental balance? How much longer can we live in defiance of nature? How much can we continue to amass before it all comes tumbling down?
Gretel Bull is an artist and writer, living and working in Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Influenced by Jungian theory and classical mythology, her work explores the reciprocal influences between mythology, person, and place.
Gretel is currently studying ceramics at Charles Darwin University. In 2021, her work was published in the Journal of Australian Ceramics (Vol 60. No 2, p. 79). In 2022, Gretel was selected as a finalist in The Alice Prize, and she was the recipient of an ArtsNT Emerging Artist Grant for her project, ‘Persephone’s Urn’. Gretel exhibited work in the group exhibitions ‘Terra’ and ‘Mono No Aware’ during the 2022 Australian Ceramics Triennale.