Posted on

Dancing through the Elements

Earth Seed WomanI went to a new drop-in movement session on Monday evening run by Caroline Carey founder of Alchemy in Movement. It’s called ‘Movement Medicine’ or ‘Medicine Dance’ and has grown out of the 5 Rhythms. We were taken on a dancing journey through the ‘elements’, Earth, Fire, Water and Air. There’s something special about the elements that never fails to ignite me, something profound, something simple, natural and, well, elemental!

Earth is heavy, I imagined it encasing me like soil, sticky, fertile, moist with moss, wood and roots. I have had a thing about roots recently, a need, perhaps, to refind mine. We sent imaginary roots down through our feet for stability and grounding. To dance earth I think of strong, low movements and trees with only their upper most branches swayed by the breeze. At first my legs were stiff as cinnamon sticks but soon it felt good and I liked the idea of drawing up sustenance from the depths. The music was deep with digeridoos and natural sounds; I bathed in it. My picture of Earth is of a seed harbouring an embryo self, like an insect imago, roots reaching out.

We moved to Fire. Looser music, looser dancing; I travelled the length of the room, to dance with the fairy lights and candles. I cared less about how I moved, fire shooting up within me shredding the overlay of Winter. Burning, smouldering flames, the gentle creep and heat of lava. That did me good.

Swim to the Stars

Water transformed me into waves, moving back and forth, bobbing with flotsum and jetsum. I was adrift, tumbling with breakers, moving constantly. Then I became a weed, tethered in a stream, helplessly flailing in the clear rush of torrent, washing debris away downstream.

And Air, the zephyr, feather light and soaring, a floating miniscule pulse. Air was for me, still, quiet, paused, a tired sigh. I was happy to lie and roll on the floor while Caroline took us through a closing meditation. The evening had been gentle, but alive with imagery, music, sounds, subtle and not so subtle dancing by everyone. It was good to be dancing freely again with other people.

I felt inspired to create so I’ve worked on a couple of pictures in mixed media – acrylics, collage, scrim and stitching – Earth Seed Woman and Swim to the Stars. However, other people’s artworks come to mind. For example for Water, Bill Viola’s films like The Messenger or Brighton based Mim King’s lovely dance film, ‘Dust’ an excerpt of which can be seen here.

I think of Ana Mendiata for Earth and for Fire. I’ll work on my own Fire and Air creations soon :)

Ana MendiataDust by Mim King

Thoughts
  • Interesting (0)
  • Like this (0)
Posted on

The Boat Project

My knotched piece of drift wood

I’ve just found out about a great “art” project in the South east – Emsworth, Chichester harbour to be precise – that started today, The Boat Project. The project involves creating a 30 ft sailing boat out of bits of wood donated by the public. Each bit of wood has to have a story, so the finished product will be a “boat of stories”. Truly a boat of the people.

The project is a collaboration between artists Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters of Lone Twin, acclaimed sailor and boat builder Mark Covell, and international boat designer Simon Rogers. I was very excited to learn about it as I like any wood, boat, sea, art connection.

There’s a wood donation day in Brighton on 8th May and I thought I’d make a humble donation in the form of a piece of drift wood that I found when doing turtle monitoring for Archelon in 2004. Each day I made a knotch in the wood to count off the days til I would leave – a bit like Robinson Crusoe! I enjoyed the monitoring but was still keen to get home! Perhaps they’ll accept it, perhaps they won’t, I’ll see in May!

Thoughts
  • Interesting (0)
  • Like this (0)
Posted on

Latest painting

Kissing the Blue Moon

Another painting. I wanted to continue with the dark blue aqua colours and include leaves and scrim for textures and gold dust to give a shimmer. Initially I just did the head and moon but it looked a bit disembodied so I outlined a body. I didn’t want to fill the body in, just leave it as a vague linear figure. I’m not sure it works!

Earth & I Gave You Turquoise

Earth and I gave you turquoise
when you walked singing
We lived laughing in my house
and told old stories
You grew ill when the owl cried
We will meet on Black Mountain

I will bring corn for planting
and we will make fire
Children will come to your breast
You will heal my heart
I speak your name many times
The wild cane remembers you

My young brother’s house is filled
I go there to sing
We have not spoken of you
but our songs are sad
When Moon Woman goes to you
I will follow her white way

Tonight they dance near Chinle
by the seven elms
There your loom whispered beauty
They will eat mutton
and drink coffee till morning
You and I will not be there

I saw a crow by Red Rock
standing on one leg
It was the black of your hair
The years are heavy
I will ride the swiftest horse
You will hear the drumming hooves.

From the book In The Presence of the Sun by N. Scott Momaday

Thoughts
  • Interesting (0)
  • Like this (0)
Posted on

Turtle Dreaming….a storm, a woman and a harp

Woman with harp, stars and storm

Waves, angry as hounds, crashed on the shore…

I’m progressing slowly with my “Turtle Dreaming” story. I’m trying to write and illustrate the story at the same time, but it’s still in the first draft stage, changes can happen any time. So far there’s a young woman, a harp, a storm, a turtle, a whispering moon and I’d love to include shipwrecks, smugglers and underwater “other worlds”, but I’ll have to see how it develops!

Click on images to see previous posts about the story.

Turtle in waves

Embracing the waves

Woman Walking steps

Turtle with girl thumbnail

Thoughts
  • Interesting (0)
  • Like this (0)
Posted on

The Long Man of Wilmington

The Longman in snow Cut into Windover Hill in the South Downs, is a giant figure known as The Long Man of Wilmington. He is one of two hill figures in Sussex, the other being a white horse. On a grey day soon after Christmas, I took a walk to the Long Man to take his photo in the snow, a “Ghost Man” on the hillside.

I wanted to visit the giant again as I had been asked by a friend to do a painting of him. I have illustrated him before for a chapter in a book on archaeology and folklore. The image I did then can be seen on my website here.

I’m intrigued by the stories and mysteries surrounding The Long Man. Some theories suggest that he represents Beowulf fighting Grendal, others say he may have been a god or hero, a pilgrim, a Roman standard bearer or some sort of fertility symbol. The Long Man is situated on a ley line and it has been suggested that he was a “Dodman”, someone who laid out the original ley lines with his two staves. The Long Man of the CoalsThe staves may represent the “gates of dawn”, or a gate through which he is passing to either heaven or the underworld. Perhaps there once was a real giant and the hill figure is a memorial to him. Another story says that there was once another giant who lived nearby on Firle Beacon. A battle started between the two, rocks were thrown and the Long Man was killed. Perhaps the giant was a protector of the area, created to frighten people away from important flint mines and burial mounds. According to local folklore, King Arthur fought and won a battle at Flossenden on a nearby hill-top, where there are supposedly entrenchments and a cave.

I was interested to learn that Windover Hill is said to be one of many places on the South Downs haunted by “Black Dogs” which follow you around, the sound of their paws stopping and starting as you do. All these legends satisfy my desire for stories at this time of year.

I saw no black dogs or apparitions in the village of Wilmington. My only fear was negotiating the ice-rink car park!

My painting is now finished and is with its new owner. I called it “Long Man of the Coals” as it looks as though he’s emerging from fire. (It could also perhaps be called “Long woman” ??) Today I did a drawing in pen and ink that I’m calling “Long Man of Wilmington and Black Dogs”. It’s more fanciful than my previous Long Mans – I was inspired to do it when I stumbled on “May” by Eric Ravilious, which I think is such a great image.

Long Man of Wilmington with black dogs

Dogs, wolves….it is also a full moon tonight, referred to by some as the Wolf Moon.

“..they come from the hills far away
Where the setting sun hangs low in the sky
Where eery caves echo and sigh
Where the sleeping bodies of soldiers lie.”

Thoughts
  • Interesting (0)
  • Like this (1)
Posted on

Extreme Blues

Blue Woman Swirls

It is always good to get comments on my posts or messages on my website. Sometimes I feel disillusioned with how pictures are turning out, but then I’ll get a comment or a message and I feel really encouraged to carry on. So thank you to everyone who’s stopped by.

I was very pleased to be contacted yesterday by Liliana, who felt inspired to write a poem about the “Blue Woman Swirls” painting that’s on my website. It’s interesting to read the poem and I’m glad Liliana agreed to me posting it here along with the painting. Here it is:

extreme blues

ultramarine rain,
every now and then
piercing the layers of
French perfume
lading her shadow,
seemed to cascade
directly from the remains
of her midnightish ancestry –
grim electric
flowing through her veins,
turning moonlight into nectar
with just a sigh,
she was doomed to be forever
his chant –
his mantra.

By Liliana Negoi

Thank you Liliana!

Thoughts
  • Interesting (0)
  • Like this (0)
Posted on

New Year

Woman Moon BirdA quiet end to the year, a year of reflecting, writing and blogging. I stood on the balcony when the pips struck twelve and watched as hundreds of orange lanterns took to the skies. One floated quite close by from the garden next door to join the magical scene. And then fireworks on the horizon bursting forth above the silhouettes of roofs and chimneys. It was so mild compared to the recent snowy spell; I was just in a light long sleeved top.

The New Year has started well. We saw friends who took home some of my recent paintings and were curious about some of my early stuff. It was fun bringing out from storage, a large red painting that I haven’t seen or thought about for years. My last few paintings have been light or of vibrant colours but now I seem to want dark paint….and stories. Perhaps illustrative paintings. I want to continue with my Turtle Dreaming story and it would be good to finish it this year. The “Dreamcatcher Woman” in my last post was the start of painting on wood once again. It’s not a good painting but I like the depth and darkness, the hint of ocean about it. The song just came into my mind while I was scanning in the photo. Here is the next piece, “Woman, Moon, Bird” also on sanded scaffolding board.

I shall put up the end of year paintings soon if I can finally finish them. Meanwhile, wishing much happiness for the New Year ahead.

Thoughts
  • Interesting (0)
  • Like this (0)