The World Turns To Ice

Friday, 31 December 2010

Winter Flu

A pestilence has descended upon the land and the Lady has retreated deep into the Greenwood to rest and recuperate.  No new work until next year.  All is still except for the drip, drip of the thaw and the cawing of crows.

Tonight we say goodbye to the old year and give thanks for keeping us safe. We welcome in the New Year and send blessings and kind thoughts to all.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

A Magical Day

The air has been sparkling with a deep heavy frost.  It was as if someone was up there in the sky emptying the contents of a pot of glitter.  It was floating all around us and it was as if we were standing in the middle of a Christmas card.  The temperature has been a constant -6 all day. The Lady of The Greenwood studio was draped with white cobwebs.

The early morning fog cleared and the sky became a clear pale blue.  The view of the Greenwood from the garden was drawing me all morning and I made plans to go for a walk in the afternoon no matter how cold it was.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Whisperings in the Wood

The Greenwood is wrapped in a soft white blanket and the air is sprinkled with a frosting of rime.  Leaves are outlined with a dusting of glittering white. Every branch is like a spectral bony finger stretched out to its tip.  The sun is exiled behind a dense cloud of fog. Cobwebs are petrified in ice.The world is silent and still and the birds have forgotten how to sing.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Artistree Christmas Exhibition

Big thanks to all who came along to the Artistree Christmas Exhibition at The Weavers Gallery in Ledbury. Special Christmas wishes to whoever bought my 'Birdsong' bag pictured above and to those who bought cards. Everyone in Artistree sold some work so we were all very happy. Thanks to Amanda for the gallery space and thanks to the guys at the pub next door who provided the music that filtered through the walls on Sunday at the 'take down', you were rockin!

Monday, 29 November 2010

The cold wind do blow

The temperature is dropping and frost is glittering in the starlight.  I am waiting for snow. There is a light dusting on the trees in the Greenwood but there is more coming in the night.  I am waiting to see white goosefeather flakes in the light of the old lampost in the lane. Outside it is still.  The cold air bites and I am waiting for snow.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Notes on visiting the 'Crucible' exhibition at Gloucester Cathedral

Yesterday I went to Gloucester to see the 'Crucible' , an exhibition of sculpture at the cathedral. I jotted down these notes whilst drinking tea and eating a very good panini:

I feel that there is a certain incongruity about seeing this wonderful exhibition in this setting:

spiritual worship v material worship

the secularisation of sacred space?

art of the past v art of the present

sacred space - God's v mammon

artist worship

is the artist more important than the work? Do we want to see 'a' Damien Hirst/ Anthony Gormley or 'the' work of art itself

this is a cathedral, a house of God, the spectators are viewing architecture and sculpture.  Does this change/diminish the buildings function?

where does spirituality fit in? What definition/s of spirituality are relevant here - religious spirituality? transcendental spirituality? spirituality inspired by beauty, awe...?

does the sculpture change the meaning of the cathedral?

does the cathedral change the meaning of the art? In both cases I think yes, definately.

does the cathedral affect how we view the sculptures physically?  The Anthony Gormley comes to mind as it reminds me, particularly in its setting, of the death of Edward the second.  This is even more relevant as he is buried in the cathedral.

 My overall conclusion is that the display of the sculptures in this setting made it really interesting as an exhibition.  I would like to see it in again in a gallery space in order to compare my own reactions to the pieces of work, especially in terms of their display.  Would the sculptures have a greater potency if they were displayed in isolation?  Wherever they were presented questions of meaning would arise not only in terms of place but also in terms of their relationship with the other works around them.

My particular favourite was a relatively small sculpture of 'Noah and the Raven' probably because it appeals to the storyteller in me.
I also liked this one as there was something quite theatrical about its display in a small chapel but that could also be due to the masklike quality of the heads.
This is the work that I found most fascinating which, as far as I could see, was a collection of fragments of skin (on the left) - I didn't get to see what they were made of.  On the right were words depicting sensory experiences that related to the fragments.  I would have liked to have had more time to have explored this piece.

I would also liked to have been able to buy a copy of the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition but the organisers vastly underestimated the number of people that would visit and quickly sold the 3,000 copies printed.  It would have been nice to read more about the exhibits and to have had arecord of the titles of the works and their artists.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Creative blocks

It happens to us all from time to time, inspiration is hard to find, the imagination is barren, finding a way out is the problem.  I have found that the only way is to persevere and push yourself to get going again.  Allow yourself to create work that isn't very good, that is not up to your usual standards and is not progressing in any positive way.  I find that you have to work through this in order to get back on track.

One way to ease your way through this is to carry a notebook and a camera with you wherever you go.

Example: Walking the dog

 I decided to take Jasper, our beloved pooch, somewhere different for a walk.  I didn't go far, just to a nearby village where there is an impressive ruined castle owned by English Heritage. The grounds outside the castle are just right for a short dog walk with wonderful views so I took my camera with me. As soon as you park the car you can feel the imagination get going.  It is so easy to imagine riders on horseback approaching the casle along the long drive.  How many carts and carriages had made their way along the track where we were walking? Two small boys were locked into the world of knights in armour as they ran past wielding wooden swords and shields.  In later times the castle was reduced to a ruin after civil war skirmishes.  There was much to draw on already.

The landscape here is very beautiful.  There are woods to our left of the track and views across the Wye Valley to our right. The land drops down to the river at one side and sheep graze under the trees.

As can be imagined, there is much of interest here from an historical perspective but also in terms of legend and myth, for example:

'The ghostly couple that return'

Haunted Goodrich Castle stands beautifully over the wye valley and is overlooking the breath taking river wye which is one of the key points of entry into Wales, the castle itself is incredibly still in very good condition and with its deep, dry moat cut through the red sandstone, its high gatehouse and towers and its Norman keep it really is as though you are stepping into history when you visit this treasured castle, Goodrich is a tourist hot spot and as many visitors all year round, the castle is also well known for its ghostly love story. The castle itself was originally known as 'Godric' Castle, it was apparently owned by a man named Godric Mapplestone which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, it is believed that Godric founded the castle in 1101 and since that date the castle has been passed through many hands and families .
The castle goes back centuries and has certainly had it's fair share of battles, wars and conflict ,the castle was originally made of earth and timber and in the mid to late 12th century the Normans replaced this to a stone keep to strengthened the castle and by the late 12th century Goodrich was no longer in the front line of defence with the Welsh. By 1200 Goodrich had reverted to the crown, King John granted it to William Marshall who made changes to the castle over the years. William died in 1219 and then the castle was passed over to one of his sons. After years of battling and defending the castle it was then handed over to, by marriage to William de Valence who later became the Earl of Pembroke. William and his son began rebuilding the castle.
William died in 1296 before finishing his work on Goodrich.Aymer who was the younger son of William and Joan succeeded to the title and estates in 1307, he became a fine soldier and stayed loyal to his king, he died in France in 1324. The castle then went to Aymer's niece Elizabeth Comyn who married a Shropshire knight named Richard Talbot who then received ownership of Goodrich. From the late 15th century the castle was no longer the Talbot's home it was passed by marriage to Henry Grey of Kent then it was handed to royalists and in 1645 the castle was held by a royalist named Sir Henry Lingen, due to a later dispute and attack Sir Henry Lingen surrendered and gave up the castle. Goodrich was bought by Admiral Griffin on the death of the Duke of Kent in 1740.
Goodrich Court was finished in 1831 and it housed paintings and medieval armour, the court was demolished in this century. The keep of the castle was built in the 1160's and incredibly is the smallest keep of it's type in England and it's walls are 2.2m thick and the keep is 16.5 m high. By the early 20th century Goodrich castle was very badly overgrown and was not looking in a glorious condition, in 1920 the ruin was then put into guardianship of the Commissioners of Works and soon after the castle was restored and it is now in the care of the English Heritage. The love story linked with the castle is of Alice Birch who was the niece of parliamentarian Colonel and Alice fell madly in love with Charles Clifford who was a royalist. In the year of 1645 her and her lover were hiding out at the castle but the parliamentarians who were led by her uncle, besieged Goodrich Castle so franticly Alice and Charles escaped on horseback on a stormy night they sadly missed the ford and drowned in the river Wye. Their hallowing screams and shrieks of terror can be heard coming from the river at night and people have claimed to have seen their ghostly bodies drowning in the river. Local legend says that every anniversary of their death they return and haunt the castle, they have also been spotted around the castle's walls and the foot of the ruins. Goodrich Castle has a magnificent structure and with its ghostly reputation it is definitely a place to visit, (this was downloaded from a google search).

The above picture shows a stained glass window which is in the chapel of the castle and it can be seen that the stained glass maker has been inspired by the setting of this castle near the river and has included his interpretation of the landscape to add to the castle's sense of place.

This is just one example of how you can turn every day events into occasions for reactivating the imagination. Your surroundings can always be a source of inspiration whether you are in the countryside or on a busy city street.  Have an awareness of your senses and jot down what you can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Your notes might not seem very interesting at first but you may be able to draw on what you have recorded at a later date and build upon your observations.

Pooped pooch.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Rain and more rain

A primeval mist is hanging over the Greenwood today as the rain pours down. Today is a day for cake and breadmaking.  I don't have to go anywhere.  My dog and I went for a long walk this morning before the weather changed.  There is definately a feeling of approaching Autumn in the air.  I am hand knitting shawls/big scarves for Christmas presents which will be fastened with the mixed-media brooches that I am making.  On days like this I really appreciate home with its warmth and comfort. My kitchen is cosy and I shall get myself a chair and sit and drink tea and eat freshly baked blueberry, raspberry and bilberry muffins while I watch the birds at the bird table.

The joy of a simple life.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday 13th

My lovely Grandad Tom Silk was born on a Friday 13th.  How could I be superstitious about such a day? Whenever that date appears I think of him and what could be luckier than that? Rest in peace Grandad and God bless.

Midnight and a Million Stars

Last night, we were told, was a night for seeing shooting stars.  I am not sure whether I saw any.  The brilliance of the sky was such that even the passing moths were illumined by the light of the stars.  I only spent a few minutes gazing at the night sky but it was an unforgettable sight.  How we walk around blinkered to the beauty that is all around us.  I read recently somewhere to think of the effect upon us all if the stars came out only once in a thousand years, how we would be astonished by the wonder of it all. It would surely be a life changing event.  I went to bed with my curtains open wide so that I could immerse myself in the glory of it.

Today I shall take note of the passing clouds and tonight I shall be gazing at stars.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Coming soon

Within the next week I shall be posting, what I hope will be, the first of many blogs on 'Finding Inspiration'.  We all go through times when inspiration is hard to find and I would like to share with you some of the ways that I try to trigger the imagination.  Some of these won't be original ideas, they will be those that I have found along the way so you can explore the web pages/books of the people that have inspired me.  Please add your comments and share those who fire your inspiration.  We could build a community offering mutual support and inspiration to each other for when we go through the 'dry' times.  Coming soon..........

Busy week

All work on the domestic front this week.  I have a new condenser boiler fitted which will, hopefully, be a lot greener than the old noisy boiler that was taken out.  To keep out of the way I belatedly Spring (Sprung?) cleaned my sewing room and started painting the walls.  It looks and feels so different.  I shall WANT to work in there now and not just rush through with blinkers on.

I did manage a walk down the Country Trail - see main blog photo.  Signs of Autumn are beginning to appear.  The blackberries are ripening and should be ready for picking this week, rowan berries are red already and hazelnuts and acorns are now clearly visible on the hazel and oak branches.  On Sunday I crept into the field and found some corn that had been battered to the ground in the recent rain so I took a little bit to make a corn dolly to mark the Lammas Festival.  Later in the evening I was watching a programme on TV which showed a log book  from days gone by of a transporter ship taking criminals to Australia.  Do you know that you could be transported for stealing corn?!!  OOOerrr, I could have been despatched off to Oz for making a corn dolly!

Later this week I passed the same field, which was looking particularly golden and beautiful in the sunshine.  The farmer was making the most of the weather and was about to get the harvest in.  Before he began though, he and his two children were sitting under the shade of the combine harvester having a picnic.  It looked such an idyllic scene that I thought that he probably wouldn't have minded me taking my little bit of battered corn.  I hope not anyway.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lughnasadh or Lammastide

Now the Summer is at its height and the gathering of the harvest can begin.   Bonfires are lit to honour the Corn Mother as she gives birth to the grain, her harvest child. 'Demeter, the Corn Mother represents the ripe corn of this year's harvest, and Persephone represents the grain-seed who lives in the dark throughout the winter and reappears in the Spring.  Persephone's descent into the underworld is a mythical interpretation of the seed lying in the ground during the dark Winter months, and her appearance of the young maid, or the new sprouting seed, in the Spring', (from 'Sacred Celebrations' by Glennie Kindred).

I went to see a perfomance of this story by the Kindle Theatre company which was set in Clearwell Caves in the Forest of Dean.  The audience were all guests at the wedding of Persephone and the King of the Underworld and the story moved through the caves which were all lit up by candlelight.  It was one of the most magical things that I have ever been to.  I wish I could bottle the effect that it had on the audience and somehow reproduce that in my artwork.

Lammas is a time for feasting.  I am reminded of the harvest feast in Thomas Hardy's 'Far From The Madding Crowd', particularly the film with the lovely Alan Bates playing Gabriel Oak. How important it must have been then to get the harvest safely in, something that we don't even have to think about today, living in the West.

My little soulmate, Jasper the spaniel, and I are off for a walk now.  Perhaps I can find some corn on the edge of the fields to make a corn dollie or a garland. I like to try and keep these old traditions going if I can.

Feast Days

Yesterday was the feast day of St Joseph of Arimathea.  Did he really come to Glastonbury and plant his staff on the Tor?  Did it really grow into a tree and does it really flower every year on Christmas Eve.  I like to believe that its all true but that is because I love myths and legends, folklore and feast days.  They add depth to our everyday lives and remind us of who we are and where we come from.

I have included a page from my sketchbook which shows a painted sketch of Glastonbury Tor.  I am not a good painter but I like to think that is because I have never really practised it. I hope that one day I will decide to prioritise painting in the way that I have done with textiles.  I would love to be able to paint well.  I remember reading that Vincent Van Gogh decided that he wanted to become a painter when he was young and, at the time, he wasn't particularly good.  He had the will to push himself to paint and draw every day and through effort and practice he became a great artist.  A good artist would be a sufficient ambition for me but if greatness was thrust upon me I wouldn't complain. As you can see, I have a lot of practising to do yet!

Drifting through the day

Sometimes I need days when I just drift.  I do nothing big, just go with the flow.  It recharges energy and gives space for thinking time.  A slow day in 'soft time' as Gill Edwards would say.  Only the basics get done but I feel that, if nothing else, I have achieved contentment and time well spent.

There are other days that are equally slow, nothing much gets done but they are completely wasted.  Those days when you go around in circles dabbling at this and that; spending far too much time on the internet kidding yourself that you are doing something useful and I'll just have one more game of solitaire! Days described by Horace Mann as:
  'Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes.  No reward is offered, for they have gone forever'.

I had better get on with it then.  Happy Sunday.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Small Steps

I feel like a small, wee vulnerable thing today.  All of a sudden I felt overwhelmed.  I am having work done on the domestic front next week and it means clearing a couple of areas inside and out.  It didn't seem too much of an ordeal until I realised that Mother Nature had been particularly abundant and I could barely get out of my back door. A grape vine has turned into a triffid and is threatening to engulf the house.  I started to cut it back and filled the compost bin as much as I could.  I have now several bags to go to the tip and still it is rampant, a little better though, I think that I'm winning.

I have now noticed that the plums on the plum tree have ripened over-night and are falling into the waiting jaws of  ravenous ants and if I don't collect them up pretty sharpish they will all be ruined.  I have filled up a box and the clock is ticking to do something with them before they rot. Whilst rescuing them I saw that the blackcurrants are ripe and ready to pick on the bush and so are the gooseberries.  The courgettes are metamorphing into marrows and are escaping from the raised bed and the radish leaves are as big as cabbages.....HELP!!!!!!!!!!!

I must calm myself, create a list of priorities and follow it one small step at a time.  My new, shiny gas boiler isn't coming until Monday.  There's enough time yet to get organised so that they can get at all the areas where they will have to work. Then, hopefully, I can hide away in the studio and let them get on with it.

Now, where's that recipe for jam......

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The yarrow meadow

I know that I should cut the grass because it will be almost impossible if I leave it any longer. The dry summer has been good for the wild flowers but the recent rain has meant that the grass is rapidly making up for lost time but its so pretty..... just a little while longer.


The Greenwood is quiet and still this morning, except for the call of the buzzards as they wheel and soar over the treetops. A time for reflection and a lesson for myself which you are welcome to share if you suffer from the same affliction:

I am learning that perfection and the desire for it is a hindrance to creativity. It is not only acceptable to make mistakes but essential. If everything that we made was perfect then there would be no inducement to develop and grow. We would have achieved what we set out to do and no lessons would have been learned on the way. So many times I have held myself back creatively for fear of imperfection and failure.

The result is a body of work released into the world which is 'safe' and 'good enough'; a studio awash with unfinished pieces which have gone so far but have not been completed and a head full of authentic and innovative ideas which are 'on hold' while I wait to feel competent enough to execute them.

Lesson for myself:

Let the mistakes happen. Give yourself the opportunity to fail, fail as much as you like and then turn your errors into possibilities. If you are 'stuck' with a piece of work you are only going to get unstuck if you look at it again and persevere. It is not going to progress if it sits in a pile of 'casualties'. If all else fails, chop it up, rearrange it, work into it, transform it into something new. Who knows what it might become.

Do one thing today that pushes your boundaries. It may not be perfect but its more of a step on the way than not doing anything at all.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Wednesday 28th July 2010

I am thinking today about what to do next on some mixed media jewellery pieces that I have been working on (see image 'work in progress'). These began life as a piece of curtain interlining which then had lace, string, threads etc glued to it. When dry the whole surface was painted with gesso, which was again left to dry. Next came the fun part. I cut several pieces off in brooch sized shapes and painted them in several layers with acrylic inks. When I was happy with the colours I sprinkled them with all sorts of twinklies to get the effect that I was after (these are for the Christmas market so the twinklier the better). Finally I painted several layers of dilute pva over the top. I haven't finished decorating yet and might try some stitching (my poor sewing machine has to put up with a lot!) and beading. I have decided to put a layer of space-dyed scrim on top of a layer of space-dyed boiled felt at the back and then attach a brooch clip. The green one shown will be mine because I like the colours and I can finish that one first and make all my mistakes on it. Though, of course, I hope that there won't be any. We shall see.......

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Happy Tuesday

A light rain is falling on the Greenwood this morning and the mist is rising from the trees. I am packing up some framed prints and cards for the 'Artistree' printmaking exhibition at 'The Blue Ginger Gallery' at Cradley in Worcestershire. The gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5.30pm, see the website: Our exhibition will be there until 5 September 2010. I'm sure that Sue, the owner would be glad to welcome anyone who would like to visit..........

Well someone got lost on the way to the gallery! I wonder who that was? I took a narrow, very bendy 'B' road and I didn't even believe that I was going in the right direction. I was under the misconception that I knew where I was going, having passed the gallery ONCE a few years before. Therefore, I set out with the only instruction that it was The Blue Ginger Gallery somewhere near Malvern. Luckily providence was on my side and I found it purely by instinct. If you should decide to go to visit the exhibition look at the address and a map before you set out!

There were many oohs and aahs as packages were unwrapped from bubble wrap and we started to separate the work into groups. There were prints of all kinds: intaglio, collographs, mono-prints, prints into clay and onto fabric. Much fun was had as we teetered precariously on chairs trying to hang frames with fishing line from nails high on the walls. After several goes at getting the arrangement right we finally did it and now all is labelled and ready for all to see.

Sunday, 25 July 2010


Midsummer in the Greenwood, the studio is built and ready to go. There is a trail of fabrics, paints and all things twinkly to guide the visitor through the trees to the magical 'Lady of the Greenwood Studio'. And so, the enchantment begins...........