Platform Graduate Award artist Beth Simcock is a painter and writer working across large-scale narrative paintings. Her practice is devoted to mythologies, both self-created and borrowed: from classics, art history, contemporary popular culture, and the online world. For her exhibition at Modern Art Oxford, Simcock presents a series of large-scale paintings entitled The Zodiac.
The following Horoscope, written by Simcock alongside her exhibition, speaks to both the specialised practice of astrology – mystical science dealing with consciousness and purpose on a grand, metaphysical scale – and also the art of the popular and familiar Horoscope pages in the back of gossip magazines.
Libra | September 23 – October 23
At boarding school it was tradition to stick one of those glow-in-the-dark stars above your bed for every new person you kissed.
In just half a year your neighbour spawned a vast and formless galaxy on the stucco ceiling over your bunk, so your classmates conspired to add the caveat – with tongue.
Scorpio | October 24 – November 21
You turn around in a sequin party dress, or shirt, or louche sparkly shorts that a friend gave you for your birthday, as a sort of joke.
In the pier glass mirrors of the old house your image shakes like dragonfly skin. Dots of light scatter from your pockets onto the hardwood like dropped rhinestones.
Sagittarius | November 22 – December 21
Sing to yourself while doing the laundry. When your future child has their heart broken by a French exchange student with a funny scarf, you will strangely remember the song you invented for folding socks. You gave your baby a pretty name that you heard on TV; later you will give them this.
Capricorn | December 22 – January 19
The barista at your favourite café is wearing a novelty Christmas T-Shirt that says is it too late to be good? It might be. On the way home from town you count weeds in the pavement cracks.
Aquarius | January 20 – February 18
He’s got the sort of look that makes you want to say come and live with me! and we could get married in the spring! Lips that are shaped like hearts; a happy accident of nature.
He won’t tell you what he’s thinking now, but you can see it – the thought – mantle pinkly in his brow. You pour out the drinks.
Pisces | February 19 – March 20
You worry that you are afraid of pain more than the normal amount. Mostly you will avoid it. Collect lucky superstitions instead. Hang a silver horseshoe over the door of your bedroom; wear jeans only on Fridays; tend to your allotment of nightshade fruits and offer your sun-coloured apples to the nice families that pass your plot.
Aries | March 21 – April 19
In a brief moment of frivolity, you take home a souvenir fossil from a museum gift shop; the hoary bones of some primitive animal cased whole in shiny plaster. A tacky and ancient thing, it fits in your open hand like a key.
Taurus | April 20 – May 20
The music aches the bottom of your feet. In the bathroom you noticed the blooms of white deodorant gathering in the armpits of your dark outfit. You will leave the party in time to catch the second-to-last bus home and stay up to play a videogame. Lately the ones with zombies are your favourite.
Gemini | May 21 – June 21
Your friend from childhood had an uncle who died in a robbery, which gave her the permission to be tragic. He was only going to buy laundry powder and was shot through the heart. For a weekend it was in all the newspapers. Sometimes you will tell people that this happened to you.
Cancer | June 22 – July 22
Your new boyfriend likes to compare hands. You put them palms-together and when you do you say oh my god, they are so much bigger than mine! You can’t help it – they are. Yours are like the small lilies they sell at the supermarket for kitchens and offices. Let him gift you a silver bracelet on your first anniversary.
Leo | July 23 – August 22
You have a petit mal at breakfast. You are sat at the counter in a seersucker bathrobe and your hand goes suddenly too-tight on the squeezy bottle of pancake syrup. There is a framed graduation picture on the wall that gives you the kind of toothy smile you thought you weren’t able to make.
Virgo | August 23 – September 22
Her hair is much longer than yours and sweet with girl’s shampoo. She used to collect model horses, and in her pretend games the horses got married and had children and affairs. Her mother gave the horses to charity when she got older and bored of play. In a few years’ time she will cut off her long ponytail, and you will walk into every wig shop on the high street to look.
Visit The Zodiac until 31 October. Click here to find out more and plan your visit.
Images: details from Beth Simcock, The Zodiac, 2021. Courtesy the artist.