Taking inspiration from historic amulets and talisman's from around the world


To the Sun, Moon & Stars

Talisman of protection, empowerment and recovery

by Lois Blackburn

Based at Gallery Oldham, 'To the Sun, Moon & Stars' is a series of art workshops, lead by me, artist, Lois Blackburn.

During our time together, we are taking inspiration from historic Amulets and Talisman from around the world.

Amulets and Talismans have been used in many civilizations, since pre-historic times. They are objects, either natural or man-made ascribed with religious, magical, or natural powers intended to protect, heal, or harm individuals for whom they are made. They are often portable objects carried on someone in a variety of ways, or kept in a significant place. They are often engraved and inscribed with magic texts.

Each session we focus on a different type of Amulet, using metals, fabric, stitch, found objects and wire to create small, hand held artworks.

There is never any pressure to discuss addiction, or recovery- but whilst our hands and brains are busy making art, the conversations flow.

Our first session as on the theme of the ‘Evil Eye’. Images of the Evil Eye dates back about 5000 years. It’s meant to be the strongest form of protection against the Evil Eye, confronting like with like- the idea is that they mirror the form of evil, so the evil eye flees in horror, or lingers in self-admiration. For some of our group, images of eyes had other meanings:

You can sometimes tell the alcoholic by their eyes- blood shot, twitching, sometimes the whites of the eyes even turn yellow.’

Another participant talked about the Green Eyed Monster, about how people’s personalities change when they are drinking.

The blue ‘eye’ beads stares back at the evil eye in the Mediterranean and beyond. The Hamsa, a Jewish open hand, often has an eye in the centre of the palm. The Egyptian Eye of Horus is also a symbol of protection and good health and luck. 

Using simple drawing and stitch techniques, participants made their own representation of a protective EYE. All the fabulous embroidered eyes, are being kept safe for an exhibition at Gallery Oldham, later in the year.

In each of the sessions held so far, I have come away inspired, having learnt so much- not just by the wonderful art that is being created, but by the thought provoking, at times heart wrenchingly honest conversations triggered by the amulet theme. As a society, ‘Recoverists’ have so much to teach us all.

Thanks to everyone who came along to the workshops so far. Take a look at Portraits of Recovery website, to find booking details for the next set of free workshops.