The Three Hares
For over twenty-five years Sue has been fascinated by a medieval motif carved in oak roof bosses in churches in Devon. The motif – three hares running in a circle sharing three ears which form a triangle at the centre of the design – is a paradox, for though only three ears are depicted each beast has two. Yet the same design can be found in Buddhist cave temples on the edge of the Gobi desert in China, first painted nearly nine hundred years before our roof bosses were carved.
Sue's interest in the hares was sparked by an article in Dartmoor Magazine (Winter 1991) by Dr Tom Greeves, and, intrigued, she began her own research into the cross-cultural transmission of the motif, looking especially at the art of the Buddhist and Islamic worlds.
In the year 2000, Tom, Sue and photographer Chris Chapman formed The Three Hares Project to document and photograph, where possible, all known examples of the hares.
The intellectual journey chasing the three hares has been every bit as important for Sue as the physical journeys. It has brought her into contact with academics, curators, collectors, and church people across Europe, the Near East, India, China and the USA, all of whom have been unfailingly generous in sharing their knowledge.
In 2016, Tom, Chris and Sue published an account of their research: The Three Hares: A Curiosity Worth Regarding (Skerryvore Productions, 2016). More information can be found here:
Sue frequently gives talks on the subject of the Three Hares, their medieval context and their cross-cultural journey, and has recently returned from a visit to Kuwait where her talk was filmed for Youtube. The talk can be seen here:
Images on slides 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 25, 28 and 60 in the presentation were taken by Sue Andrew.
Images on slides 12 (Corfe Mullen, Dorset), 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 30, 36, 53, 55, 56 and 57 were taken by Chris Chapman.