This illustration was created for the Folklore Exhibition in Hamilton House, Bristol (2018). 

The piece inspired by the tale of Melusine, originating in 1300s France. 

The story goes that Melusine was the daughter of a fairy and the King of Scotland. Melusine did not get along with her father, and trapped him in a mountain; when her mother found out she put a curse onto Melusine, meaning her bottom half would turn into that of a serpent each Saturday afternoon.

Many years later, Melusine had married a French Nobleman, who she had brought wealth and prosperity onto by maintaining a watchful eye over his land. The city and forests were thriving, and Melusine's 10 sons had become successful kings and tyrants. Every Saturday afternoon she would lock herself into a tower, and undergo her transformation.

Eventually, Melusine's husband became suspicious of her, and worrying that she was with another man, peered through the keyhole of her tower. Much to his shock, her bottom half was trailing and covered in scales, and broad wings arched from her back.

It is the law of the fairy-folk that if you are discovered, you must flee, and so Melusine left her beloved home. It was said that every Saturday night, she would fly around the city at the end of her transformation, to look over her children.

The howling of wind in chimneys were said to be her lonely cries.

© 2018 by BARBAWK/Abi Bailey.