In The Night(mare) Garden

I’m sure the majority of my readers will already be familiar with the blog Gardens of Hecate run by Ana Polanscak. In the unlikely event that your not do take a look at her work – for one thing you’ll probably be blown away by the skill and creativity on show and for another it’ll save me from trying to describe the indescribable. There really is very little that’s similar to Ana’s grim, folk-horror infused work so do yourself a favour and take a look. I’d been following her old blog for years and was disappointed when she made her final post earlier this year (as if  2020 hadn’t done enough eh!) but it turns out I’m just an airhead and, despite my initial fears, she’s still blogging at a new site which you can find here.

Anyway, the reason for all this preamble is that last year a kickstarter campaign ran which produced some of Ana’s original sculpts and naturally I backed it. Anyone who missed out on the kickstarter but who finds themselves with an overwhelming need for these miniatures can find them at Harwood Hobbies. I’ve been meaning to get everything painted up for a while, and even got as far as starting work on them back in the spring, but what with one thing and another it’s taken me until now to get them done. I didn’t set out to paint them for Halloween or anything like that but it’s certainly fitting that as the nights draw in and the dark forests of the imagination get even darker that I finally put brush to model and got these finished.

I should add, this post may not be entirely safe for work, depending on how sensitive your boss is, not all of the creatures having remembered to get dressed before they manifested themselves. Scroll down at your own risk.

First to be finished was this weird looking Blood Fiend. It makes me think of hoodeners and hobby horses found in various British folk customs, in which a horse’s skull is carried on a pole by a person hidden under sackcloth. Of course, judging by the look of this thing, it might not be a person under there after all…

Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (3)Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (4)

Next up, a little gargoyle, because you can never have too many of them!

Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (1)Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (2)

Then we have this gothic snail who looks more than sufficient to give the boldest thrush pause.

Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (5)Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (6)Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (7)

Next a Wodewose, that being essentially a wildman – hairy, forest dwelling and strongly associated with nature (so a bit like me all things considered). These individuals make regular appearances in medieval artwork and church carvings across Europe and are often symbolically linked to the Green Man, whose face is shown on the shield of this figure. From what I can gather the etymology of the Middle English term Wodewose is unclear but it may well have come from wudu-wāsa, “wudu” – referring to forests and also appearing in my username on this blog.

Wodewose Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (8)Wodewose Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (9)

For anyone wondering how big these are by the way, here’s a picture of the Wodewose next to one of the Chainrasps from Games Workshop which happened to be sitting helpfully on my desk. I’ll put a groupshot at the end so you can compare the whole group but in the main they’re all of a similar size, with the gargoyle a bit smaller than the rest and the Blood Fiend markedly bigger.

Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (10)

Lastly we have a Demibuer. The term wasn’t familiar to me at all, and a dig around online didn’t prove any more informative, so if you happen to know anything about them please let me know in the comments. To my eye he looks like a cross between a faun and a Green Man so that’s what I went with.

Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (11)Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (12)

Here’s a groupshot of the whole lot, looking like they’ve stepped straight from some medieval stonemason’s nightmares.

Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (13)

I’ve got various half-finished projects kicking around at the moment (when do I not?) so I’m planning a bit of a feet-clearing exercise over the next few days, then I’ll get my teeth in about that Orc Blood Bowl team I’ve been promising.


23 responses to “In The Night(mare) Garden

  • Geoffrey

    Buer is one of the demon lords of Hell. There is a drawing and engraving of him where he has a lionlike head with a mane surrounded by 5 goat legs. So this demibuer appears to be a lesser form of that.

    • Wudugast

      Thank you (not sure if you saw but Ana herself commented not long after you did and you were bang on the money). I just looked up Buer and saw the engraving you mentioned, he’s a creepy looking chap isn’t he?

  • Alex

    These are great mate, nicely done!!

    • Wudugast

      Thanks dude – they were a lot of fun to work on, very different to a lot of the other miniatures we see regularly but (without wishing to sound too much like a pompous artist!) very fitting for my style.

  • David MacLellan

    These really are lovely sculpts, and as always well painted.
    I would guess the demibuer come from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buer_(demon) <this guy

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! I hadn’t heard of Buer (my knowledge of demons etc comes mostly from a miss-spent youth listening to all the black and death metal I could get my hands on, clearly not enough people thought to write songs about poor old Buer!). Turns out you were spot on, Ana herself commented below confirming that this was her intention. Interesting that Buer taught natural philosophy and “the virtues of all herbs and plants” so my association of the model with nature, and specifically with plants, wasn’t as far-fetched as all that.

  • Ana Polanscak

    Nicely painted! I always love to see what folks do with my sculpts, and these ‘foresty’ colours suit them well. 🙂

    Demibuer was named after the demon Buer, like the other commenters suggested. The prefix demi- marks it as a lesser form of the original, having mere two legs. That was the idea.

    • Wudugast

      Well how’s that for an official answer! Thanks very much for clarifying that. I just looked him up and I recognise the image by Louis Breton, I must admit there’s something of the uncanny valley about it which makes it a bit creepy (it’s the too wide smile and the human-looking nose on the lion’s face I reckon). The demi- version seems a lot friendlier. 🙂

      Glad you like what I’ve done with your models – it must be quite strange and gratifying to see other people putting their own spin on your work.

  • Pete S/ SP

    Those are some wonderful paint job on a very creepy sety of miniatures. I approve.

    I’ve not need of them myself but I really want some now….

    Cheers,

    Pete.

  • Azazel

    Interesting stuff. I admit I browsed the images before I read the text and assumed that the first and last models were your own conversions using the lower legs/torsos from the original Bloodletters from RoC! 🙂

    • Wudugast

      I can see that! Hmmm… It might be possible to make a bigger version of the model using modern bloodletter legs and a suitably leonine head – might be one that’s fun to play with at some point.

  • theimperfectmodeller

    A rather odd little collection but a very intriguing one with an interesting narrative. Will check out the blog links as this lady is new to me. So, if Wudu equals forest then does gast have a meaning too? In my mind, and following on from our recent exchange, I’m thinking some occupation link! 🙂

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! Yes, you should definitely give Ana’s work a look, her stuff is really unique but always inspiring.

      Gast (or ghast in a modern spelling) would be a ghost or similar spirit (same etymological root as ghastly). So “wudu gast” would be a “wood’s ghost” in modern English. I picked it ages ago when I was looking for a forum handle and it just stuck. It’s the title of a song on one of my favourite albums, Ours Is The Kingdom by Forefather. Essentially it’s about an Anglo-Saxon warrior who dies and, not being properly put to rest, roams around haunting the forest forever. To be honest that doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend eternity in my book (although the guy in the song is a bit melodramatic about it, come on mate you’ve been dead at least a thousand years, maybe time to get over it eh?). If possible though I quite fancy a nice warm English oakwood, somewhere it doesn’t get too cold, with some nice mossy banks to rest my bones on – rather than the freezing cold Scottish hillside with horizontal sleet being driven into my face at about 90 miles per hour like I was out in today (and it felt like I was out there for an eternity I can tell you!).

      • theimperfectmodeller

        I really do like the fact there is a meaning behind your blog name, a cool one too. Thanks for sharing. Sorry to hear about the weather you were out in but on the positive side I’m guessing getting home to the warmth and some modelling and painting is motivational 🙂 You could try banking! 😉

  • Ann

    Some very interesting miniatures! I’ll have to take a look at well. I particularly favor the horse-headed one and not surprisingly, perhaps, the snail.

  • Kuribo

    Ana’s work used to be featured in a magazine called Figure Painter Magazine (which was quite good until it ended a couple of years ago) and I was always impressed by her creativity and conversion skills. I think her style compliments yours very well actually! These all look great and are full of character 🙂 I appreciate how a darker style is melded with folklore to create something wholly unique with these minis.

  • Mark A. Morin

    Very cool painting on very cool and quirky minis. And I enjoyed reading your discussion with TIM on the meaning of your blog name. Mine means, errr, just me!

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