Monday, 27 June 2011

Yes! and a Family Portrait

Hallelujah! I have been struggling through self-doubt for ages, wondering if there's any merit in what I create at all, feeling the glare of exposure as I show my developing work to the world, including people who were at this stage of their craft as children. It's been tough (admittedly, not in the way that mining or firefighting can be tough), but I'm peeping over the parapet now. 

A couple of days ago I sat down with a few child-free hours ahead, clear in my mind what I wanted to produce. Then I thought, No, I want to just follow my inspiration. And I made this:
Brush pen on canvas
5" x 7"

Incredibly, I wasn't interrupted, and I drew the whole piece without thinking ahead once. Every shape, every colour, was a surprise to me.  Occasionally I found myself thinking, I can't do that, it'll spoil it. So I did those things and they all worked.

So here's the crucial note to self: Just sssh your busy, clever little mind and do it. Trust your hands to make it right.

Hopefully you'll be seeing more of these soon... if my hands feel like it.

In other news, we spent part of our sacred weekly Family Day picking oodles of currants and berries from our allotment. Actually, Ent did most of the picking while I popped plenty into the baby bird ever-eager mouth of Ickle Pickle. Such a delight to fill her with divine spheres of juicy wonder. What was left by the time we got home was this:

 Hmm, we did eat a lot. Now they're all in the freezer (except for the gooseberries) awaiting the apple harvest so they can become God's own jam. We are lucky to have our friend's three bee hives on our allotment. And whenever we spot a swarm on the loose, Ent cycles like crazy to fetch our friend and we earn ourselves a jar of the most perfect honey. Beyond good. This year the apples were so heavy on the branches I knocked many off so the boughs wouldn't break. Had to explain myself to each tree as I went because it felt weird to deliberately lose unripe fruit, but many other creatures will benefit.

And, just because it amused me, here is a portrait of our family life as seen on the table before we made room for the berries:

Can you spot: pavement chalks (for sunny day graffiti); tea tree oil (for the nappy buckets); a string of camels, llamas and elephants; a pair of chimes; a fake pot of nuts which in fact contains a worm which bursts out with a huge screech; a cornet (destined for Ent's dad, bought from the Flea Market, which we can get nothing but hilarious farts out of); a bib; a carrier bag of spanners; welding kit in a treasure chest; a book; baby wipes; a book on geology (we just had an earthquake: 2.5 on the Richter scale; and (what home would be complete without) a crocodile.

Finally, this which I found on Terri Windling's blog:

Do please share this about, particularly if you will reach young adults. In my experience, it just keeps on getting better. Hope the same is true for you.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Solstice Sex, Partying and Hilltop Reflections

A few days before the solstice two friends shared a birthday and the usual suspects gathered to eat, drink and make merry, with the obligatory musical feast. (Rima and Tom  [Edit: also make a moment for Coyopa] had to bargain hard to eat before they played!) Below is also Howard and, under the hat, David. To the right is one of Dartmoor's finest fairies. Only don't call her a fairy because today she may be a princess. And she was running about with a (water-firing) machine gun, so approach with caution!

 Handsome men had earnest discussions by the fireside in time-honoured fashion (although I have reason to believe they may have been discussing computer games)

and the children's energy outlasted the dogs' as they charged up and down from fire to orchard, with only minor incidents (e.g. "Mummeeee, he's weeing on my leg!").

On  the actual (calendar) solstice, I found this happening in our pond:

 I knew these were Red Eyed Damselflies, but I couldn't understand what they were doing. Before they landed on this grass head, they were flying around with her dangling off his, um, tail (?) and it looked most peculiar! 

Turns out (having consulted my friendly local ecologist who usefully was in my living room), he (on top) was depositing a package of sperm on the back of her neck (feminism is slow in the damselfly world, but at least she doesn't have hair to worry about) which would then slide down her back (there MUST be a better way, surely) and fertilise her eggs as she laid them in water, later that day.

Afterwards, she flew off and he rested on a leaf for a bit, eyed hungrily by one of our little frogs, who is just a bit too small for such long fare.

That solstice evening, we marched up the hill we live on (me panting quite a bit with no-longer-very-Ickle Pickle on my back) and sat enjoying the mixed skies and reflecting on the view of the hill across the valley, where Ent and I got married in October 2009. We still chuckle about making everyone walk up that hill.

And I had a quiet moment for my lost boy. The prayers I have said between these stones...

The dark clouds blundered across us without spilling and we celebrated the turn of the light-tide with cider, chocolate and a fab aeroplane - Jason's Fathers Day present. (Ent received a magnifying bug viewer - a tie would only be a comedy gift around here!)

And best of all, better even than chocolate, is the fact that my girl believes the whole world lives like this, that it's normal to play music around fires; watch life happen in your own garden pond; climb a hill with friends and gaze out over miles and miles of green. 

Right now I'm struggling with symptoms of a chronic auto-immune disease and sometimes that weighs down my mood, but then I have days like this and I am so grateful for all the good things in my life. My hope is that such good things find you as the shadows roll in (or out, down there).

Friday, 17 June 2011

Spiral and Sky Blue Pink

Two more additions to my fecund family of pennings. I managed to halt long enough to capture Spiral before I added colour, but was too excited by Sky Blue Pink to pause and take photos part way. You can imagine, I'm sure. Have taken a couple so you can see the (rather tricky) extension of the designs over all sides.

Spiral in progress

Artist brush pen on canvas
5" x 7"

Sky Blue Pink
Artist brush pen on canvas
5" x 7"

 Meanwhile, have not been back at the ranch. Spangled about on bog woppets, dragged Ickle Pickle away from fires and sang ridiculous songs at a hostel in a Welsh hanging valley for a few days for Ent's joint 90th with two school friends; then a couple of days deep in middle England admiring my parents' new home and apologising for Ickle Pickle after she pulled that face (pressed lips, red cheeks - ask a parent if you're unsure) whilst sitting, nappy-free, on the scoot-along car they had for her.

So, much laughter, cake and many, many raisins to prevent (not entirely successfully) travel meltdown later, I am home and, as usual, behind my desk and my schedule. The months sneak past, but the exhibition collection grows, so I suppose it will all be alright in the end. At least we got out of that bog with all our footwear and Ickle Pickle wasn't sitting on the cream carpet... yes, things have turned out rather splendidly.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Just another day in Chagford

It occurred to me that the kind of thing we, on the edge of Dartymoor, take merrily for granted (regular morris dancing stopping traffic in the town square; the rule that every type of community event must incorporate a hog roast; three or four generations (human and canine) at all parties, etc.), is actually rather odd in other, more worldly, parts.

So here is a glimpse into the latest gathering of morris dancers who kindly visited us to make our lives dafter and, therefore, better. It wasn't any kind of festival or eclipse or celebration that I was aware of - just an opportunity to prance about on a sunny evening in a traditional manner.

I'm more of a Grimspound Border Morris girl myself, but I can enjoy a bit of hanky-waving when the opportunity arises.

There were two sides: Raddon Hill Clog Morris in Dennis the Menace rags

 and Winkleigh Morris in Suffragette ribbons.

 There was the requisite surfeit of bells, in this case made from bottle caps:

 and men with burly forearms sporting Ascot-worthy floral headgear. Marvelous.

But it's not really about the bells, ribbons and rags. Witnessing the hilarity which follows every slip,

it's clear that this dance form is taken seriously by its participants in a very different way to all the others I know. But the music and, even more so, the beer, are sacrosanct.

For more of the same and lots of very different, have a look at Westcountry Folklore.
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