Reilly Knowles: Magic Circle for Earth Communion

Museum London & Ontario Culture Days

Reilly Knowles, Magic Circle for Earth Communion (detail), 2024, quilt with embroidery, plant-dyed textiles, dirt and stones. Collection of the artist.

Reilly Knowles: Magic Circle for Earth Communion

June 8 – December 1, 2024
Opening Reception: June 20, 7 – 10pm
Workshop: October 3, 6 – 8pm
Artist Talk: October 10, 7 – 8:30pm
Museum London, London, Ontario

Inspired by regional folk magic traditions and Museum London’s historical collection of log cabin quilts, London-based artist Reilly Knowles presents his textile installation, Magic Circle for Earth Communion. This quilt takes the form of a seal or “magic circle” symbolizing living in relationship with and learning from the earth. It also incorporates dyes created from local plants and has undergone material alteration through direct contact with the region’s soil.

Furthering Knowles’ exploration of supernatural traditions from the settler cultures of Southern Ontario, this new work is a response to a magic circle in the appendix of a 2008 edition of The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, an influential handbook of spells allegedly written by the ancient Hebrew leader and prophet. The text was used as part of the folk magic practices of Pennsylvania Dutch settlers in Waterloo, Ontario, as late as the 1950s, and in other traditions in North America. The magic circles are diagrams which the practitioner draws as part of rituals for commanding spirits.

Rather than frame the earth as subservient to humans, Knowles’ circle is a record of reciprocity and connection with the land. It includes textiles dyed with local wild plants such as black walnuts and sumac, and others, such as avocados, brought to his kitchen from remote locations. In the making of this work, the artist also temporarily buried textiles in the ground, and wore others on his feet as he walked through the Coves, an Environmentally Significant Area in London.

Magic Circle for Earth Communion was commissioned as part of the Ontario Culture Days 2024 Creatives in Residence program.


On October 3 from 6 to 8pm, join Knowles to make a mini wall quilt using recycled fabrics and beginner sewing techniques. Open to adults and children ages 6 and up, this workshop teaches how to layer fabric scraps in a “log cabin” quilt block design, exploring colours, patterns, and embellishments. All materials will be provided, and light refreshments will be served. Caretakers must remain with children for the duration of this class.

This free workshop is part of the 2024 Ontario Culture Days Festival; registration is required as space is limited. Check for registration to open on the museum’s website as October nears.

Example from Reilly Knowles’ workshop, Make a Mini Wall Quilt, part of the 2024 Ontario Culture Days Festival.

Artist Talk

On October 10 from 7 to 8:30pm, join Knowles for a presentation on his artistic practice and Magic Circle for Earth Communion at Museum London. Please visit the museum’s website for further details as October nears.

About the Artist

Reilly Knowles is a settler interdisciplinary artist living and working in London, Ontario — on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak, Anishinaabek, and Chonnonton Nations. A 2020 graduate of Western University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Program, Knowles has held solo shows at Good Sport Gallery (London, ON), Forest City Gallery (London, ON), Jordan Art Gallery (Jordan, ON) and the Queen Elizabeth Park Community & Cultural Centre (Oakville, ON). He is a member of London-based artist collectives Good Sport and the Coves Collective, as well as a recipient of the Forest City Gallery Exhibition Award, the Mackie Cryderman Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts, and the Tony and Betsy Little Gold Medal in Visual Arts.

Learn more about Knowles’ work on his website and Instagram.

About Museum London

Museum London is Southwestern Ontario’s leading establishment for the collection and presentation of visual art and material culture. Through public and educational programming, special events and exhibitions, Museum London strives to promote the knowledge and enjoyment of regional art, culture and history.

In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, Museum London would like to acknowledge that it operates within the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Attawandaron (Neutral), and Wendat peoples. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. This territory is the homeland of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames, and Munsee Delaware Nation. Museum London also recognizes the contributions of Métis, Inuit, and other Indigenous peoples, both in shaping and strengthening this community in particular, and our province and country as a whole.

About Ontario Culture Days

Ontario Culture Days is a not-for-profit organization that celebrates artists and cultural groups in its local communities.

The Ontario Culture Days Festival is an annual celebration of arts, culture and heritage taking place each fall across the province. Every year, they work with organizers of all disciplines to produce this province-wide festival. Organizers host programs throughout Ontario and invite the public to participate for free.

The 2024 Ontario Culture Days Festival will take place between September 20 – October 13.

Museum London
421 Ridout Street North
London, Ontario N6A 5H4

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Tuesday to Sunday
11am to 5pm
Thursdays until 8pm

The venue is accessible.