Halloween and Scarecrows

Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec
Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec

 

Happy Halloween or all Hollows Eve

Oct 31st – Some people like skeletons, other vampires; but for me the scarecrow is the essential halloween symbol.

The tall and skinny figure with a pumpkin for a head, maybe stuffed with some hay, strikes the right note of spooky and the fall harvest.

Walking past a scarecrow you never know if that looming creature may jump out at you.

And history backs up your unease, because at one time scarecrows were living creatures. Walking pass a farmers field could easily stir a sleeping scarecrow.

In pre-industrial Europe and North America, farmers would often place scarecrows in the middle of their modest fields.

To keep the birds away, farmers would hire either the very young or the very old to sit in the fields.
Children too young for other work could easily sit in the middle of a field and swing a wooden clapper to scare the crows.

Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec
Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec

The work was also ideal for the old. Nolonger to perform maunal labour, the aged worker could walk to the field and still keep an eye on the crops. The small compensation might might the difference between eating or starving the days before a social safety net.

So, walking past a scarecrow could easily provoke a reaction from a sleeping senior citizen or a extremely bored child, particularly at dusk.

Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec
Hamilton Scarecrow. Photo by @erskinec

There are also tales of the trouble these little scarecrows could cause if they dropped by your house asking for food or walk. Refusing to provide some small treat might result in mud being jammed into you key hole or the farm gates suddenly opening in the middle of the night.

The spooky nature of scarecrows should never be under estimated. So, that is why I like scarecrow. They provide the perfect balance of history and scariness

Published by Chris Erskine

Inspired by architecture and landscapes, my art explores our relationship to place, memory and identity. As a mid career artist, my art practice includes: painting, murals, short films, and sound art.

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