Category Archives: Art

Meet Ceridwen

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I have named my medieval lady – meet Ceridwen – isn’t she absolutely heavenly?  She was helped into the world by the marvellous ceramacist Midori Takaki , whose work I have adored since first finding it.  I had told Midori how much I loved her work, and she was the most kindhearted seller -offering to save me the particular item I wanted until I was ready.  I didn’t do that at the time as we were pennypinching and I couldn’t justify an art purchase.

Quite a long time later I mentioned to my husband how much these works meant to me – how I longed to own one.  He knows it is not often that I see something I want to own, mainly I am happy to just be in the world alongside what I have.  So being the romantic he is, he immediately asked me to choose the one I liked for Valentine. I did.

Midori is a busy lady, so I waited a while before the mask arrived. And I wasn’t disappointed.  Now I never anticipate. It is something of a strange attribution and connected to memory or lack of it. I cannot see things that are in the past of the future, only the present. So in the same way I hadn’t named my sons prior to their birth, neither had I given Medieval Lady a name.  I had to come up with something that meant something to me, and that suited her.

After some reflection, and some of Keat’s ‘negative capability’ I remembered a poem that goes back to the myths of Celtic Britain which I had fallen in love with moons ago.

I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre

I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre,
Which will last to the end of the world.
My patron is Elphin…

I know why there is an echo in a hollow;
Why silver gleams; why breath is black; why liver is bloody;
Why a cow has horns; why a woman is affectionate;
Why milk is white; why holly is green;
Why a kid is bearded; why the cow-parsnip is hollow;
Why brine is salt; why ale is bitter;
Why the linnet is green and berries red;
Why a cuckoo complains; why it sings;
I know where the cuckoos of summer are in winter.
I know what beasts there are at the bottom of the sea;
How many spears in battle; how may drops in a shower;
Why a river drowned Pharaoh’s people;
Why fishes have scales.
Why a white swan has black feet…

I have been a blue salmon,
I have been a dog, a stag, a roebuck on the mountain,
A stock, a spade, an axe in the hand,
A stallion, a bull, a buck,
I was reaped and placed in an oven;
I fell to the ground when I was being roasted
And a hen swallowed me.
For nine nights was I in her crop.
I have been dead, I have been alive.
I am Taliesin.

 

I wanted my lady to be Taliesin , the bard in the Tales of Taliesin but I couldn’t cross the gender gap. Taliesin is a man. So it made sense to me that if she couldn’t be the bard, then she would mother the bard. She would be responsible for bringing into the world this legendary bard whose tales would ring through history. She would give birth to Awen  – the Welsh, Cornish and Breton word for  the inspirational muse of creative artists in general.

It is not all pretty though – Ceridwen in the stories of Celtic myth had given birth to a son, Morfan  who was deformed, hideous to look at. In order to somehow compensate for this misfortune Ceridwen went to work to make a potion which would give her son wisdom and poetic inspiration. This was no simple task – it was to take a year  and a day to brew in her magical cauldron, and she had helpers – a blind man and a young boy Gwion. Gwion’s task was to stir the concoction, and as luck would have it three drops of the mixture spilt onto his thumb, which he instinctively sucked.  Now only the first three drops of the mixture would have the transformative powers, the rest would be fatally poisonous. So Gwion did waht any young man would do faced with a powerful woman fatally disappointed. He ran. As Ceridwen gave chase , he used the powers of  the brew to turn himself into a hare, and was then pursued by Ceridwen transformed into a greyhound. He became a fish and jumped into a river. She transformed into an otter. He turned into a bird; she became a hawk. Finally, once he became a single greain of corn Cerdwen ate him as a hen. Even this did not destroy him because of the power  ofthe potion – Ceridwen became pregnant, and knew the child was Gwion, deciding to kill him when she gave birth.  Of course she could not do it – he was so beautiful, but she did set him into the sea in a leather-skin bag.  Fortunately for the child a passing prince rescued him on a Welsh shore, and this infant became Taliesin.

Some tale – the celtic tales are full of magic and imagination- powerfully romantic and date as far back as the 6th century. It is from the 12th century that the stories of the Mabinogion appear , and these were translated into English in 1849  when Lady Charlotte Guest’s version was produced. The tale draw upon the myths and history of Celtic Britain, with four branches of a storyline mainly set within Wales and the otherworld. They have a dreamlike atmosphere, preserving the primitive, imaginative world of Celtic myth.  A link to The Harvard Classics Volume 32 will fill you in further on the importance of this body of work on European literature that followed. Link to Harvard Classics page 146 Volume 32

For those interested in researching the work of Midori Takaki , her website is wonderful.-website of artist Midori Takaki

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Shout! Shout! Let it all out!

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Here is a big shout out from me on National Stationery Week!!  As a geek of immeasurable proportion for all things papery,  I am celebrating the fact that the whole world will be turning to the sound of pages turning  the latest stationery news for a whole week!!

Most of my readers –  wherever , if ever you are- may be aware that I distract myself from the sorrows of the world by illustrating my way to happiness.  I play all day. Simples.  To enable me to pursue this harmless and endlessly enjoyable occupation I sometimes have to promote my goods on social media. ( That is where the sorrow creeps in, but needs must.)

So you can order a bespoke card from my Etsy shop – or even a handmade book, I love a commission!

For spiral notebooks or hardcover journals and stickers, your only destination is my redbubble store.

Please come and have a browse around – let me know if you want me to make you something more specific.

Etsy link  : Etsy shopfront

Redbubble links ; My Redbubble Spiral notebooks and My Redbubble Hard cover journals

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Call to arms

I am babe in arms when it comes to technology.  I have embraced as much as I am able in order to indulge my creative urge to make something somebody else wants to spend their hard earned cash on.  It has sent me down pathways that have totally discombobulated me,  I have disgorged hours of my precious time in order to try and understand the secrets inherent in getting noticed on the Internet. I am exhausted.  I come to you on my knees, pleading for some help. I need to excite your interest enough to bear with me.
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Savour the moment

Walt Whitman helped me there, from his epic poem ‘Leaves of Grass’.  Walt and others have helped me to find my soul. A decent thing to do in my humble opinion.  When I found my soul, it wanted me to put way some of the things I thought were important, and find the preoccupations that left me calm, stable, comfortable in my skin. It is an ongoing process, and in that endeavour I read alot, I think a great deal. And then I play with illustration and share the fruits of my  ‘doing’ with a multipicity of pursuits.  I started by making handmade books, which interested others than just me, so I opened an Etsy shop and sold some on there. I even sold one of my tributes to Shakespeare to a University in America for an exhibition celebrating the 400th year of his birth.  That was a yippee moment! Shakespeare tribute on Etsy

I have enjoyed a few of those moments on Etsy – working to commissions which have brought me closer to people at special points in their lives.  It is a privilege to share a wedding proposal by working on the intended groom’s poem and illustrating it,  a rare joy to be given the opportunity to bring someones love letters together and make them a memento for their beloved to treasure.  I work alone, I spend alot of my time alone and the collaboration with others reminds me how good it is to connect.

My Etsy store needed more listings to become ‘seen’ on there – it is a very packed place to be – so I designed artist cards because they are less time intensive, and made it to nearly 200 listings!  I work hard in my little Etsy corner – learnt how to handle Twitter ( without a smart phone!) , try to post on Facebook daily under  my business page at Facebook and tumble, pin and stumble with the best of them.

So where do I need that help from you?  I am not completely au fait with all the magic that happens amongst the backstage of the internet stage ( huge understatement there), but I am reliably informed by what you will know as an app, that I lack external links. ! Who knew?  And not just any external links – oh no – those mischievous critters can fox anyone. I need external links that do not include ‘no follow’. Apparently.

Now I will try anything to make my web presence just that bit more visible – sad but true, so if any of you reliable web fellows can think of anything remotely helpful, such as me writing a guest blog or an article on how to be seen waving not drowning, please lend a helping hand.  I can’t promise you Shakespeare, but I shall do my best.

Good day to all of you, and I look forward to your magnificence!

 

 

 

Get yourself a superpower and change the world.

kindsight.jpgKindsight is my new name for a human superpower.

It is the magical property that inhabits the living. The force that overcomes the sour, the hardened, the exhausted and the weary.

It is our saving grace.

In a world that appears to value money over everything, kindsight is the antidote.

It is the superpower that we see performed in the everyday, in the chaos of what it means to be human.

It is the difference between animal and artificial intelligence.

It is the practice of compassion in a busy, consumerist, exhausted world.

It is the application of compassion in your life. The life you live today. The life where you wake up tired and the toaster isn’t working and the children are bickering and the dog has just peed on the floor. It is the practice that overcomes your battle weary state of mind and prevents you from throwing a two year old tantrum. Because the dog didn’t know what it was doing , and children will always bicker before the school day begins, and toasters break.  You put on those metaphorical glasses and begin your day with kindsight – you don’t yell at the kids – they begin their day without the humiliation of a scolding, and the dog is blithely unaware of its ageing and incapacitated bladder.

 

Kindsight changes you.  Kindsight changes everyone.  In a secular world , compassion becomes ever more necessary .  We tore up the rules, and so we have to write ourselves a guide book , because isn’t that what religion has given human beings for the last couple of millenia?  In different guises, under different theologies, guidebooks to help us live co-operative, meaningful lives.

 

Kindsight is the superpower that you give yourself.  It is a sort of cyclical transformer. The more its used the more powerful it becomes.  You know that yourself – you’ve witnessed random acts of kindness from strangers – and paradoxically, strangers are often those most willing to show it.  Why aren’t those closest to us willing to show the same levels of compassion. It’ s our families and our colleagues that often suffer the worst sides of our selves.  It’s because it’s hard to show kindness when we’re stressed and tired. And we’re often stressed and tired.  That’s why kindsight is the superpower that will change your life. It’s a gear change – that’ s all it is.

 

With the benefit of kindsight we can change the world.

Barely there

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With That Moon Language

Admit something: Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”

Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect. Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye that is always saying, with that sweet moon language, What every other eye in this world is dying to hear?

-Hafiz

Images  Anne Corr

‘True Impressions’ – the essential necessity of art

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‘And art and literature – what of them? Well, there is a violent uproar but we are not absolutely dominated by it. We are still able to think, to discriminate, and to feel. The purer, subtler, higher activities have not succumbed to fury or to nonsense. Not yet. Books continue to be written and read. It may be more difficult to reach the whirling mind of a modern reader but it is possible to cut through the noise and reach the quiet zone. In the quiet zone we may find that he is devoutly waiting for us. When complications increase, the desire for essentials increases too. The unending cycle of crises that began with the First World War has formed a kind of person, one who has lived through terrible, strange things, and in whom there is an observable shrinkage of prejudices, a casting off of disappointing ideologies, an ability to live with many kinds of madness, an immense desire for certain durable human goods – truth, for instance, or freedom, or wisdom. I don’t think I am exaggerating; there is plenty of evidence for this. Disintegration? Well, yes. Much is disintegrating but we are experiencing also an odd kind of refining process.’1

 

 

This paragraph of wisdom was gleaned from Saul Bellow’s lecture in 1976, and encapsulates some of my recent thinking.  I both applaud and deplore the recent breakthrough in technology , bringing the immediate and the virtual to practically every home or person via internet and smartphone.  I am aware of the changing awareness it provides me – the gratification of satisfying curiosity quickly and easily , whilst simultaneously eroding my capacity for concentration. I am a gadfly, settling momentarily for bites of informative , entertaining distraction rather than entering into a thorough investigation of one area of interest.  That is possibly character led – I have never been the model for applied intelligence, but even within my own modest parameters I feel an unease at how I limit my attention to reading matter in particular. And yet the other side of the coin gleams attractively – the range of newly discovered channels of information is thrilling. I watch video of life on earth previously undreamt of in even my mother’s generation, introducing whole facets of human and other strands of life that can only inspire further exploration and discovery. The vast multitude of available paths is itself discombobulating – sometimes paralysing. It can be both inspiring and frightening, to be open to so much possiblility can overwhelm and freeze , halting the desire to progress. So I cheer the idea  of Bellow’s ‘quiet zone’.  I know that we are so much further on too, than when this was written- forty years is after all, a lifetime to some. We are experiencing a world in flux -it has ever been thus – and still we need to champion the Arts as a way of life, one which explores, enhances and illuminates the human condition.  It is not only in the world of the novel that the ‘individual’ is petrified – never more than now has our species depended on the interconnectedness and the application of that knowledge of interconnection in order not only to flourish, but to survive , both in a literal and a metaphorical sense.
We grow our technology at a rate that imperils our planet and ourselves. We grow our technology in order to save the planet and ourselves. Both are versions of the same reality. We choose, as individual human beings how to behave, both individually and collectively. Some of us choose our governments to act on our behalf, some are less fortunate, but all of us are responsible for the reality we choose.

Saul Bellow’s lecture discussed the value of literature in exposing the ‘true impressions’ to ourselves.  It is as prescient today as it was then;

‘The value of literature lies in these intermittent “true impressions”. A novel moves back and forth between the world of objects, of actions, of appearances, and that other world from which these “true impressions” come and which moves us to believe that the good we hang onto so tenaciously – in the face of evil, so obstinately – is no illusion.’

It is the artist’s gift to show us what is generally unnoticed by us.

The march of technology will continue to move us through different method of exploring that creative expression and I have no problem with that. When I thought about it, the popular mass of human beings on the planet have not enjoyed the easy access to books for that long, perhaps reading is only part of a creative journey to be taken by a comparative few. Perhaps the experience of being human and expressing paradox and complexity will follow different routes of expression, but express it we must. As Joseph Conrad explained, and Saul Bellow related:’ the novel tells us that for every human being there is a diversity of existences, that the single existence is itself an illusion in part, that these many existences signify something, tend to something, fulfill something; it promises us meaning, harmony and even justice. What Conrad said was true, art attempts to find in the universe, in matter as well as in the facts of life, what is fundamental, enduring, essential.’

The lecture can be read or listened to in full via the  link in the citation.

Citation:

1 ; MLA style: “Saul Bellow – Nobel Lecture”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 11 Feb 2016. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1976/bellow-lecture.html&gt;

Please do not reuse the images on my site without prior permission.

Savour

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My capture of a wonderful morning sky earlier last month.

Oh,and a reminder to attend.

 Against Entropy

The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days
Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.
The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

— John M Ford