Weighing of Souls

I’d researched a little about the Weighing of Souls when I was working in Croughton and some of this is in a previous post but this hopefully keeps some continuity…and explains a little more about the thinking behind what I was doing…

The psychostasia, Greek ‘weighing of souls’, is a method of divine determination of fate, which persists from the Iliad through to christian theology.

The Western prophetic religions (i.e., Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) developed concepts of the Last Judgment that are rich in imagery.

There is rare 14th C wall painting in the church, which is adjacent to RAF Croughton, which depicts the Weighing of the Souls. I was interested in this as a Doom Painting.

As described in the link : The word ‘Doom’ in this context carries in itself no sense of disaster, or of eternal damnation; it is the ‘time of trial’, the blinking of an eye between time and eternity in which the individual soul’s fate is sealed, irrevocably. 

The proximity of this Christian church and the wall painting which survived the Reformation in England to RAF Croughton feel significant to me and demonstrate not only the commonality of concepts of Last Judgement in Christianity and Islam but the idea of the value or weight of one soul vs another.i.e the value of a ‘soul’ in the UK or compared with a ‘soul’ in  the Middle East.

I  bought these scales with the idea of making a piece for the ‘pop-up show’ which demonstrated this in some way.


I made paper aeroplanes from British and Middle Eastern newspapers to symbolise the military flights and flew them at/ laid them on the scales. I also printed some images of drones on some American dollar bills  with the intention of piling them on the scales


I wanted to put images of people injured in Drone attacks in Yemen ( where it is rumoured that the communications form RAF Croughton are relayed ) in the other weighing pan.

To make the images of people more fragile, I printed them on to glass using acrylic gel and then fractured the glass to make fragments..

I’d taken some of my experiments to Helen Slater ( mentioned in a post earlier I think) to see how to put images inside glass ( without them burning in the firing) and maybe make individual small images on pieces of glass.

She showed me how this can be done.. should I want to do it.. it involves sending some digital images and instructions to a company who will do it for you! See the previous post

I also decided to use some glass from a work made in 2012. I thought of this when I was with Helen as I originally made this work at her studio. It felt very ‘cellular’ to me in a biological sense… with a nucleus.  Interesting how ‘cellular’ has taken on another meaning.


It contains the residue of some thread used in a performance piece about bereavement and loss ‘ Unscheduled’ ( 2011) which had been burnt but preserved within the glass.P1030739

I decided to ‘release’ the charred remains and use some of the fragments to print on by breaking the glass with a hammer. It took some force to break the glass. Destroying a piece which could have been exhibited was a fascinating process. I’d not exhibited it partly as it was so difficult to move around! and seemingly so fragile. In fact it was quite hard to break. The smell of the charred thread was obvious and pungent..after all these years.

The reason for using this glass was to ‘layer’ the meaning and add continuation from past action to present and future action- the continuation of a story- through the re-mediation of material used in previous actions.

Again I used the acrylic gel to transfer the images. I cut my fingers several times on the edges smoothing the gel and image over the uneven surfaces.

My blood mixed with the gel….Symbolically interesting……?


Here is one of the images on the glass after transfer.P1030838

As you can see the clarity is poor due to the many uneven layers of ‘ twice-kilned’ glass.

also these fragments are very heavy and would need far too many dollar bills on the other weighing pan to even it out. This was the idea…. what is one soul  ‘worth’.

The intention is to go and get maybe 100 dollars and pile it on the weighing on the opposite pan to the glass. The problem though is that the images of the people would not be seen clearly.

I wanted it to have an element of interactivity. The audience putting glass images on the pan to balance the weighing…but theres a real health and safety issue.

Also my feeling is that it is too ‘literal’ a piece.

To be continued..maybe


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