The World Turns To Ice

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Samuel Pepys tells in his diary (May 1667 entry) that 'After dinner, my wife away down with Jane and W.Hewer to Woolwich, in order to [get] a little ayre, and to lie there tonight, and so to gather May-dew tomorrow morning, which Mrs. Turner hath taught her is the only thing in the world to wash her face with; and I am contented with it.'

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A kind of freedom

My writing assignment was finished today and I feel a sense of freedom and calm.  My words have been sent out into the world and whether they are well received or not I am left with a sense of peace and some relief.  This evening I am going with the flow.  I am trying not to think with any effort.  Everything is easy because I am choosing to make it so.  I am enjoying the quiet.  I can hear the last calls of birdsong before the night mingled with kitchen sounds of the fridge and dishwasher.  The day is coming to a close and there is a stillness which I can get absorbed in this evening.  This is like a serene oasis before the next piece of work begins.

Tomorrow I might take myself off to a cafe, for what Julia Cameron calls 'an artist's date', and have tea and a tea cake and scribble in my notebook. I might record snippets of conversations or observations or indulge myself in a stream of consciousness outpouring which could be turned into something interesting later.

  As an adult I find it hard to find inspiration for writing fiction, yet as a child I filled a multitude of exercise books with my little stories and illustrations.  I wish that I was still in touch with the same resources that I drew from then.  I have lost the ability to be fully present in each moment so that everything that is seen is observed in infinite detail and then wrapped up in the chasms of the imagination.  I would live in a story of my own making for weeks at a time and be able to keep that world in place at the same time as being present in this world doing the normal everyday things that we all have to do.  To be seven years old was a wonderful thing. They say that when we get old we return to our childhood.  I shall not fear my dotage if I can re-enter that fantasy world of playful imaginings that I lived in when I was seven.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Time for another search for inspiration

I have an assignment to do and I have writer's block.  Well, not necessarily writer's block more a case of being completely uninspired by the assignment and if I'm honest I just really don't want to do it.  I'm tired and drained and I would like to get on with my art work or plant roses or bake cake or anything other than have to plough on and on with this dreary exercise.  I haven't really got that much more to do but I could describe the process as being like putting my head in a vice and squeezing out every solitary word. The completion of a paragraph feels like a real achievement so, as I have written a paragraph today, maybe I could stop.  Maybe I could look at my new book or have an early night.  Perhaps I should have a cup of tea.  I might go and clean my room before I go to bed, my room really needs cleaning, in fact, I don't think that it can wait any longer, it must be done right now....but I don't want to do that either.

Maybe I should go back to my desk and have a few more turns of that vice.  Every word that I write will be one more nearer to the finish line.  When inspiration fails then perseverance is the only answer.

17 May 1821

This was reported in the 'Morning Post' on this day:

''A singular custom prevails in Shropshire at this period of the year, which is peculiar to that county.  As soon as the first cuckoo has been heard, all the labouring classes leave work, if in the middle of the day, and time is devoted to mirth and jollity over what has been called the 'cuckoo ale'.''

Cuckoo-ale:  Ale drunk out of doors to welcome the cuckoo's return.
(James Halliwell's 'Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words').

It was believed that the weather would change as soon as the cuckoo appeared and it was, therefore, considered to be the embodiment of Spring.

I miss the sound of the cuckoo.  It has been a few years since it was heard in the Greenwood.  I often hear a wood pigeon and listen carefully to hear it call again just in case it was a cuckoo but it never is.  There is something magical about that sound, something that is so very much a part of the season, something that binds us to the land when we hear it.  I hope that maybe next year it will return again.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Altered Book Group 2011

I had told myself that I would never do another Altered Book.  If you don't know what an altered book is the principle is not difficult to understand.  You take an old book and you alter it.  Its as simple as that.  When a group undertakes an altered book project it becomes rather more complicated.  In this case there are 12 of us, 11 ladies in Plymouth ( including two of my daughters) and me.  We each find a book, divide it into 12 sections, decide upon a theme, work on it for a month - or at the last minute if you are like me- then pass it on to the next person on the list (there is a rota).  You then decorate your section in the next person's book in accordance with their theme and on it goes.  In a year's time we shall all get our own books back and get to see how everyone has interpreted our theme.  They could even be exhibited as has happened with the previous two Altered Book Projects that I have taken part in.
    My theme this time is magical landscapes and here are some photo's of my book before I passed it on:

On the left is a lino print which has been coloured with coloured pencils.  On the right a small beaded mixed-media fragnent which I was going to make into a brooch originally.

This is a drawing in watercolour pencil which has been brushed with a little water to blend certain areas.  It has some embellishment on the top to give the illusion of spray.

These are the only two pages where I have worked directly onto the pages rather than sticking work already done onto the page.  This was entirely due to time constraints.  Ideally I would have worked all the pages like these.

 The image on the left consists of a fragmented photograph of poppies.  The page was printed first of all to form a background and then sequins and textile embellishments were added, finished off with some rubber stamping.  The image on the right is shown enlarged below.

This seascape has been worked in the same way as the previous one.

I have just received my daughter Rosie's 'Strange Lands' book and I am amazed at the work that she has done in there.  I shall have to ask her if she would mind if I displayed it here.  Well, am I glad that I am taking part in another Altered Book project?  Yes of course.....and no, I don't like the feeling of pressure, the responsibility to make someone else's book beautiful and not mess it up and the deadlines but I know that when its all over I shall be glad that I have taken part.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Bumble Bee

Yesterday I found a bee, a bumble bee, life had quite flown from it.  I don't know why I picked it up and brought it home. I placed it upon a piece of crumpled soft white paper and put it on the kitchen windowsill so that I could look at it as I worked. It wasn't even a ghost of itself.  It was an empty shell, an empty shell shrouded in sadness as its beauty lingered.  I touched the velvet of its back and the fragility of its transparent wings. Now it can only decay.  I can capture it on film or a drawing but I cannot breathe life back into its form.  It has gone forever.
   Today I walked in the Greenwood along the path through the tunnel of trees.  The wind roared through the treetops creating a malevolence that was palpable.  I shivered but not from the cold.  There was a presence, as if a thousand tiny eyes were watching me and there were rustlings in the undergrowth and odd creepings through the vines.  A robin watched me warily from a branch and a blackbird with a beak full of grubs for its young stopped in her tracks.  A tiny rabbit, new to the world, fled down a bank in fear as I walked along the path.  Then crack, a cumbersome pigeon defying gravity shot into the air like a cannon ball and flew up the rise barely missing the top of my head.  I drew in a sharp breath and made for a sunny clearing to escape from  intruding irrational thoughts.
    Tomorrow I shall wrap the bumble bee in a shroud of muslin and carry him back to the Greenwood and hide him under a pall of dry brown leaves.  I shall have given the Greenwood back her own.  The spell will be broken and peace restored.  We are never far from enchantment if we have the eyes to see.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Poetry Vessel

This should perhaps be called the 'Poettry' vessel as I attempting a conflation of all three disciplines that I am working on at the moment ie. a creative writing course; pottery lessons and textiles.  I have been inspired by making (or more accurately, attempting to make) thrown pots at the local Wobage Pottery, to make a series of 3 dimensional textile vessels that resemble pots in form.  There will be a theme for each 'pot' based upon a poem that I shall write and incorporate in the art work.

The photograph above shows the work, so far, which could be compared to a ceramic pot before it is glazed and fired.  The poem that I am writing is called 'Vessel for the Whispering Wind' and I haven't decided yet whether to stitch the words onto the 'pot' or have a series of textile tags hanging from it which will display the lines.  Having chosen the wind as my theme is creating a problem in deciding upon a colour scheme but I think that I shall use predominantly greys with some accents of colour and metallic embellishment.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

'It is Spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart." - Rainer Marie Rilke

Wisdom from the Cree

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find money cannot be eaten
~Cree Prophecy~