In Celtic mythology, it is believed that women are classified under four main categories: The Mother, The Maiden, The Crone, and The Wild Woman. Although not as explicit, other cultures and religions have shared the same philosophy, their female divinities and folkloric characters belonging to one of these four archetypal bases. This categorization has continued to exist and develop, and is now reflected in female figures in modern/contemporary film, TV, literature, and general pop culture; however, they have become increasingly nuanced and even subversive due to the change in how women have been treated in societies over time. The archaic and modern are therefore analogous, as one serves as a foundation for the other; however, they are simultaneously disparate due to the different time periods and the changes in societal attitudes concerning women.
The Encyclopaedia of Female Archetypes, through exploring the evolution of fictional female figures from the past to the present, aims to showcase the wider picture of how societies may separate real women into reductive archetypal concepts by generalizing them from their particular characteristics. This is explored in the project by playing with layering, overprinting, and transparency in both print and web mediums. The ‘past’ is categorized as cyan, the ‘future’ (or current times) as magenta, and pictures/text are laid over one another to reflect how ancient female archetypes are the foundational bedrock from which current female characters have developed, while also exhibiting how much the current characters have evolved and even subverted their archaic roots.