Weasel by Mark Noad and Michelle de Bruin

Weasel by Mark Noad and Michelle de Bruin


This carving in Welsh Slate by Mark Noad and Michelle de Bruin, celebrates the word ‘Weasel’, and was created as part of our exhibition ‘The Lost Words - Forget-me-not.’ For this exhibition artists have created a permanent record of the natural words removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Size: 30 x 60cm

NOUN: Weasel

A small, slender carnivorous mammal related to, but smaller than, the stoat. Genus Mustela, family Mustelidae (the weasel family): several species, in particular M. nivalis of northern Eurasia and northern North America. The family also includes the polecats, minks, martens, skunks, wolverine, otters, and badgers

ORIGIN: Old English wesle, wesule, of West Germanic Origin; related to Dutch wezel and German Wiesel.

Nature can be unforgiving as well as uplifting.  ‘A little murder never hurt anybody’ begins a poem written for the weasel. The creature has a reputation for aggression, a willingness to take on adversaries many times its size. We need some of that assertiveness. The poetic richness and depth of our language is under threat. Similarly, our visual environment would be diminished if the art of cutting letters into stone by hand were to disappear. If ever there was the opportunity for synergy of medium and message, it is this. 

Mustelidae is the name of a whole family of creatures, embracing badgers, otters and wolverines. What we in Britain call a weasel is actually ‘the least weasel’ (not even the ‘lesser’). Then there’s the stoat – known as a weasel in Ireland. But any species of the family is called an ermine in winter, when it’s clothed in pure white.

In the context of this exhibition, the best use for the word weasel is as a verb. To weasel means ‘to deprive [a word or phrase] of its meaning’. Without poetry and craftsmanship, in what we see and hear, meaning is lost. Our contribution to the exhibition addresses this. Drawing and cutting letters into stone by hand takes time and dedication to master, patience and skill to execute. Typesetting words is quicker, sandblasting them is easier. With both approaches, the job gets done. But our emotional engagement with the outcome is very different.

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