Traditionally the Hand of Glory is the dried or pickled left hand of a man condemned to the gallows. It is believed a candle made from the fat of the hung man, lit and placed in the Hand of Glory would have cast the recipient of its powers in to a deep unwakeable sleep. In Rowe’s film a cast hand is flanked by two skulls.
Each skull rests on a base of loose clay strips. As the film progresses these clay tendrils seemingly sigh and heave with natural movement. The fingers of the central hand light up one by one creating a burning effigy. Here, Rowe evokes a folkloric tradition and plays with the material properties of ceramic and lard. Rather than from a tallow candle Rowe has cast his Hand of Glory from everyday supermarket lard, re-framing the ancient ritual with a playful contemporary twist. The movement of the skulls is further formed through the natural drying process of clay, as the clay dries out its surface expands and contracts. This slow movement, caught on film, anthropomorphises the medium imbuing the image with a sentiment of the other worldly.
by Laura Mansfield