Old jaw inspires arts duo

An image from The Bird and the Monkey's installation for the 2016 Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in Hawick.
An image from The Bird and the Monkey's installation for the 2016 Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in Hawick.
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Galashiels music and arts duo The Bird and The Monkey are taking part in this weekend’s Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in Hawick.

In tune with Alchemy’s theme of Altered State this year and inspired by an artificial 19th century jaw, Sarahjane Swan and Roger Simian have created an installation called Alphonoso’s Jaw.

They discovered the artifact in Edinburgh University’s medical collection. It is a prosthetic silver jaw, painted in flesh tones with added whiskers, which was created for a French gunner called Alphonse Louis, who was struck by a seven-pound shell and lost much of his jaw at the Siege of Antwerp in 1832.

“The surgeon major for the Army of The North, Dr Forjet, and a local Belgian artist created this prosthetic mask for Alphonse and we find it fascinating,” explained Sarahjane.

“It makes us think about identity in the Modernist era in its various forms, including the whole, ‘perfect’ natural form; the damaged, destroyed or diseased form, and the reconstructed or ‘mimic’ form, and this has offered us plenty of material to work with for this year’s installation.”

The work uses multiple video projections, music, writing and sculpture.

The Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival is on from April 14 to 17 in the Crown Buildings and The Bird and The Monkey’s installation can be found on the third floor.