James Ravilious - September 1973
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This is such a fascinating image. An unusually serious carnival float! The Bideford witches are shown being burned at the stake, which is very grim. In reality they were hanged, which was little better – but maybe this float design was influenced by films like Witchfinder General (1968) and the popular belief that all witches were burned. The Wicker Man, which came out in December of 1973, was too late to be an influence. But this all looks very “folk horror”, very much in the mood of the time when novels and films suggested rural life was once dominated by all sorts of violent, pagan folk customs. I love this image: the serious faces of the women are genuinely sad, and the black robed authority figures and the Hammer horror executioner juxtapose ironically with the modern house and the lorry. Open hotspot