'Butchering a Pig', Sigrid Holmwood

Two women cutting open a pig on a table

2010, Handmade paints including fluorescent egg/oil tempera, cobalt blue, lead white, lead antimonite, burnt sienna, raw sienna, vermillion, ultramarine ashes, verdigris and madder in oil on linen, 90.3 x 115 cm

Artist's statement

This painting is not a definitive product but part of an ongoing performance. I make all of my paints by hand, researching historical recipes and techniques gleaned from old treatises and conservation reports. I find my subject matter in historical re-enactment groups who have a similar passion for materials and craft, acted out in their hand-stitched, vegetable-dyed clothes, displaying skills vital to a pre-industrial age - such as the traditional butchery of a Tamworth pig. Indeed, I have joined these groups, re-enacting a 16th-century painter showing the public how paints are made, inhabiting open air museums, sleeping on straw mattresses and eating food cooked on open fires.

The Performance of Painting continues now as the viewer takes their role in the act, just as in the contemporary museum reconstruction the public is asked to suspend their belief in order to partake in the spectacle. If the viewer accepts the premises of this psychedelic theatrum mundi, Bruegel can meet Van Gogh, fluorescent pigment can be bound in egg, and the Slow Food movement with its rare-breed meat and home-grown vegetables is translated into a Slow Paint movement of hand-ground pigments and sun-bleached oils.


Sigrid Holmwood, half-British, half- Swedish, was born in 1978. She attended the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art Oxford 1997-2000, the Royal College of Art London 2000-02 and the British School at Rome 2003-04. She featured in 'Responding to Rome' Estorick Collection London 2006, a collaborative artists' book in 'Cunning Chapters' The British Library 2007, 'The Artist's Studio' Compton Verney Warwickshire 2009 (artist in residence) and 'Newspeak: British Art Now' State Hermitage Museum St Petersburg 2009 and Saatchi Gallery London 2010. Solo shows include ' PastTimes and Recreation' Transition Gallery London 2006 and '1857: Paintings' Annely Juda Fine Art London 2008.