Common Scold

In the common law of crime in England and Wales of the 1500s (and as recently as the 1960s), women deemed to be ‘quarrelsome’ were secured in iron muzzles, or bridles, which inhibited the tongue.

Considered a preventative measure, women were forced to wear these in public and led through the town. At different times a punishment for women accused of gossiping, inciting riots, and accused of witchcraft, the device was used for centuries to punish, humiliate, and silence women.

Here combining their sonic and installation practices, artists Naomi Blacklock and Anastasia Booth draw on their shared investigations into the feminine body, the archetype of the witch, and the history of these devices – utilising ritual, the body, and other materials to consider the possibilities of agency and rebellion even when the tongue has been silenced.

Curated by Amy-Clare McCarthy & Kieran Swann.

Curatorial essay.

Bus Projects, Melbourne 17 January – 10 February 2018.

Photography by Sarah Walker.