Ostara: Local artists’ tarot deck is an exercise in contrast

Tuesday 10th, March 2015 / 18:59
By Genevieve Michaels
"Wheel of Fortune Fin"

“Wheel of Fortune Fin”

VANCOUVER — What is the appeal of the occult in the modern day? What, in our times of science and logic, can explain the Tarot’s eternal fascination? In the Ostara Tarot, a deck created by local illustrators Molly Applejohn, Krista Gibbard, Eden Cooke, and Julia Iredale, you won’t find any firm answers to these questions; just a open-minded exploration of the spiritual, personal, and artistic ways the Tarot can be used.

“I think it’s important to approach these kind of themes with a lot of respect, regardless of any personal views,” Gibbard says. “I consider myself to be more of a spiritual atheist, so I view Tarot more as a tool for guided meditation and self­reflection.” That sensitivity is clearly something that’s defined the collective’s approach to the project, with each artist approaching the project from her own personal experience and aesthetic.

Molly Applejohn describes her work as “highly fantastical, and interested in the ancient human love of tall tales.” Eden Cooke used the unique meaning behind each card as a jumping-off place for her work, delving into her dreams and subconscious to choose the cards that resonated most with her personally. Krista Gibbard, coming from an Irish and German background, grew up listening to European folktales, and says that because of that context, her work “often exists within the framework of larger stories, worlds, or pre-existing iconography.” Julia Iredale is also inspired by mythology and archetype, using “fantasical imagery as a tool to express something real about the human experience”. She describes the Ostara Tarot as a “dream project” that has allowed her to pursue both of these artistic aims.

The clash of science and spirit isn’t the only tension the Ostara Tarot will deal with. The deck’s press release also describes it as adding “a facet of questioning the user’s relationship with the Earth beyond our concrete city life.” Gibbard says; “I think it’s a very human quality to dwell on the romantic qualities of nature, but there is also something magnetic about these big, expensive cities that keep drawing us in.”

An art show at The Fall Tattooing and Gallery will commemorate the deck’s release, with artwork by its four contributing illustrators along with pieces by eighteen other artists who, for the show only, have created larger scale alternative cards for the Higher Arcana. Applejohn describes the space as “an unbeatable match…very organic, warm and eerie in all the ways we love.” The tarot deck’s first run of 150 is already mostly pre-ordered, but opening attendees will also have the opportunity to reserve a deck from future printings.

Come to the opening of The Ostara Tarot at The Fall, 644 Seymour Street at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 20.

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