Cactus Gallery LA
MAGPIE SHIRT (Harakkapaita) by artist Ulla Anobile
Found wood, paper mache, acrylics, hand embroidered wool/rayon felt, sequins, 14 1/2” tall, 10 1/2” wide at the wingtips
According to an old Finnish folk belief, the best way to protect a newborn was to dress them in a ‘magpie shirt’.
The shirt was made of an old piece of cloth, with a hole cut in the middle for the head. After the baby had worn it for three days and nights, the shirt was hung on a fence pole, ‘for the magpies’, until it rotted away.
As long as the shirt remained on the pole, the child was protected from illness, death, and all sorts of evil, the Magpie having been made a scapegoat on whom any bad fortune would fall.
In my piece, I’ve ‘rehabilitated’ the Magpie - a handsome, extremely smart bird - from its low status as a scapegoat and troublemaker, by giving it a fine embroidered shirt and sequined feathers.