It has been collected, shrunken, glorified, vilified, and used to define character and find illness; the human head has had a chequered relationship with the bodies that carry it.
For thousands of years the head has been seen as something special.
The Druids, 2000 years ago, displayed heads, the Greek and Romans through sculptures and coins used the head to create an identity, in medieval churches it is the head and not the body that formed gargoyles.
As shown in the recent BBC Television documentary and National Portrait Gallery the head portrayed through art reveals so much more.
Now the head, carved, constructed and drawn by Cowfold artist Janine Creaye is featuring in a solo exhibition at Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum, which opened on November 12.
The exhibition is a stunning display revealing through the skilful and highly trained hands of the artist so many ideas and moods.
As Janine says in her introduction to the exhibition: “The starting point was probably subconsciously a Buddha image and the power of that type of contemplative sculpture to focus a stillness that we rarely feel in life.
“We naturally can’t help but respond to other human faces however stylised, so this is perpetually a good vehicle for suggesting mood or focussing back on ourselves.
“I do not have a faith in any specific religion, nor do I see the pieces as having a directly spiritual aim.
“I always intend my sculptures to have subtle levels of complexity of expression, which can be interpreted differently by different people.
“The head sculptures often do not have a preparatory drawing directly associated with them but evolve as they are made. I know what they are about but do not know exactly what they will look like in advance. The sculptures are not portraits.
She continues: “The drawings fall into two categories: studies of expression and mood in real people and studies of the most powerful contemplative sculptures from other cultures. As such these drawings are sometimes very tightly analytical other times more a response.
“I sometimes work from TV, theatre or film. If the character fascinates me I want to know why and I draw obsessively.”
Creaye’s work is represented in the Victoria & Albert theatre collection.
The Engimatic Head exhibition is on until January 9.
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