For “Nursery Rhymes” exhibition at Urban Cow Gallery, Adelaide (January 2011).
Ring-o-Ring-o-Rosy is commonly believed to be a nursery rhyme about the Black Death. References to rings of roses were thought to refer to the red sores of the Plague; a pocketful of posies to the attempt to ward of disease with a posy of herbs and flowers & atishoo atishoo to the symptoms of illness etc.
However this interpretation of the children’s rhyme only appeared early last century, around the time of the World Wars. In fact, this innocent children’s rhyme is just that, a children’s rhyme about nothing in particular.
My visual interpretation of the rhyme is a central figure inspired by the Plague Doctor uniform – with the distinctive wide brim hat and beaked mask. The children dancing around are all wearing protective masks of some description – a reference to our eagerness to believe the hype. Perhaps it parallels with sensationalism today?