This piece was inspired by the UK heatwave of 2022. There is a horror in the dissonance between the beauty of a summer’s day and the danger it can represent to the heedless. The risks of labour in the midday sun are so profound that they gave rise to multiple cautionary tales. In Slavic mythology, Poludnitsa or Lady Midday is a demon that wanders the fields when the sun is at its zenith. Her youthful, human appearance belies her ability to inflict confusion, headaches, dizziness, and even death (all symptoms of heat stroke) on anyone she encountered. She is emblematic of the necessity for self-protection in a society conflating our value with our productivity.
With this piece, I wanted to capture the duality of Poludnitsa – the combination of youthful beauty and the demonic brutality. One side of the mask is more human, with the references to a skull signalling our mortality. The other side conveys the disoriention of heat stroke, with a corona of wheat ears evoking the appearance of the midday sun. The mask is textured to resemble the intricate weaving of a corn dolly, a shelter for the spirit of the crop after the harvest.
The mask, the crown and the sickle were all designed in ZBrush and 3D printed in PLA. The crown was adorned with dried ears of wheat and dyed twine for added texture.