I have often had an image in my mind of a woman trapped in stone beneath the waves, a sort of Rock or Stone Goddess or Buddhess. I first drew a picture of this in my diary back in 1989. I think I was feeling reflective at the time.
The image has stayed with me so I thought I’d work with it on another altered book, a colour one this time. Playing with photoshop and layering several images, I put together the image below to help inspire me: (I might make this image into a small card.)
I have two large dictionaries, but I thought there’s something sacrilegous about cutting up a dictionary so I bought a secondhand history book from my local PDSA charity shop (I should, perhaps, have read it first!). It’s a bit of a tome as I wanted some depth to the images.
The result is below. It’s coloured with inks, a mixture of turquoises, blues and golds. The creation of it was a way of expressing a feeling of entrapment I feel at the moment and a reminder that there is treasure within even if I can’t always see it :)
Here are some of the pages. Click on each to see a larger image:
Towards to end of last year a friend on Facebook, Meryl of Black Cat Floral Designs, suggested that I create some wedding invitations with woodland, wildlife or Goddess themes. It’s taken me some time to work out quite what’s required as there seem to be so many variations out there, I’m a bit in the dark about the whole subject.
Anyway, I’ve created some designs and had a few samples printed to see how they look.
They include Woodland Wildlife – with rabbits;
A springtime leafy one;
A ‘Goddess’ one;
and Two Deer one which might work best for an autumn wedding;
They are currently simple and unfolded on stiff white card but I plan to make some ivory ones on folded card.
Based in Chester, Meryl creates wonderful things with flowers for any occasion. See below and check out the galleries on her website.
I’m hoping to create a page on this website with more details and options soon. In the meantime if you’re interested, contact me here.
I’m very into natural sound recordings and came across Be:One last year. It was created to accompany The Hive installation. The Hive was an installation by artist Wolfgang Buttress at Kew Gardens last year.
“An open-air structure standing at 17 metres tall and weighing in at 40 tonnes, The Hive encapsulates the story of the honey bee and the important role of pollination in feeding the planet, through an immersive sound and visual experience.”
Here’s a video about the soundscape:
There’s something hypnotic about the bees’ droning.
In the Ancient Greek world bees were worshipped as they represented a link between our world and the underworld. There were special priestesses refered to as “bees” or “Melissas”, the Greek word for honey bee. In Ancient Greek myth Melissa was a nymph who nursed the baby Zeus, feeding him honey instead of milk. It was from her that the cultivation of bees for honey was supposed to have come.
I’ve worked on a Bee Goddess illustration with this ancient bee nymph in mind. I’ve now made it into a card available in my Folksy and Etsy shops.
Since February I’ve been noticing many large bumbee bees while out walking. They’re queen bees seeking nesting sites. I came across a carder bee nest one summer which I was a little wary of but it was also quite charming like any nest!
I have decided to open an online t-shirt shop, Designs by Alexi, as I thought it would be good to have some of my designs on t-shirts. I discovered Teemill whose t-shirts are ethical, organic and sourced sustainably.
I enjoyed creating the shop using one of my woodland photos and a couple of my images for the banner. My images are often inspired by the natural world, myth and folklore so the t-shirt images reflect this. There are other items such as tea-towels and tote bags for sale as well.
My Long Man of Wilmington features on one of the t-shirts:
So does one of my moon goddesses, Hina:
and the Green Man along with other images:
Originally I wrote about The Long Man of Wilmington a few years ago here. Since then a version of my Long Man picture has appeared on a CD cover for the band Athelstan on their album The Ride.
In June I visited the islands of Malta and Gozo. I’m writing about them now as I’ve had plenty of time to digest the visit.
I am drawn to islands and have been curious about the ancient temples and early Goddess worshipping culture of these two. I’ve read quite a bit about ancient Venus figurines and “The Myth of the Goddess”, so it seemed like a good place to visit. These sun bathed islands of desert scrub and rocky coastlines made quite an impression on me.
Malta gave me: temples of limestone – sometimes pink limestone,
portals through pitted stone,
interesting obese goddess figurines,
and other curious figurines.
Sometimes what is needed is a shift in perspective and that is what I returned home with from my visit. Before going I had a feeling of being constrained, running along tram lines. Every so often I shake out of my mindset and refind what I want, which is a feeling of wholeness to my life and not a narrowness.
In Malta, the temples, portals, giant slabs of pink and white fashioned from raw limestone that have stood solid, timeworn and pitted down the centuries, spoke to me of silence and endurance.
On returning I felt more open to new sights and experiences once again and had a desire to take a more oblique path. I am being asked to lean towards the left, closer to the earth, like a sailing boat close hauled, leaning into the wind. I am setting off on an oblique course to find my way back to myself.
Malta had plenty of other things I liked, mainly natural things that include all the different sorts of limestone; sun bathing and sea urchin fossil finding on the rocks at Dwejra; the lizards, purple flowers …
Some years ago I tentatively researched into the “goddess” in her varying forms. I made a little book on Goddesses of River, Sea and Moon, and found myself painting faceless images of female figures. They weren’t all faceless but many were, just like the goddess figurines of the ancient past.
Once again I’m experimenting with faceless figures inspired by the female figurines and colours of Malta. I tell myself that it is not necessary to create something good, but simply to do it, indulge in the process of making a mark, marking a point in time and painting a simple figure is one way to start. The work by the artist Laurie Doctor resonates with me at the moment. She incorporates calligraphy into some of her paintings and sometimes her figures are faceless in a desert-like landscape. I especially like the one I found below – whose title I don’t know – and Night Vigil:
In an artist statement for one exhibition, she wrote:
I wish to communicate moments of fluidity between this world and the world of dreams. I want to share the sense of confirmation that happens when a dream steps right through the daytime door.
Good words. The desert colours of red, gold, faun – colours of earth, sand and rock – work for me at the moment.
I have painted a few little canvases in acrylic incoporating string, leaves and cloth pieces. Here are Desert Dreamer, Desert Icon, Gold Icon and The Pilgrim.
Avocet Gallery in Rye is currently holding The Magical Land exhibition and I am very pleased to have some of my work on show as part of it.
Here are a few of my illustrations in the exhibition:
Along with the illustrations are cards and two of my long painted boards. One is very much a river goddess board as it is covered with flowing lines of lyrics, poems and words about rivers.
my eyes have been closed so long, cried the river
I see this world but I cannot see
whispering near the surface of the water comes a voice
let all emotions flow from our dreaming together
I am afraid to heal my soul, said the river
then your spirit connected to mine will die
whispered the wind
do not hide from me river, find your ocean
if you listen deeply
wind and river coming together as one
in the great ocean we’re born of the mother.
This is the way she hears your voice now, all of your feeling
easy or difficult,
do not be afraid
all the rivers are dying
I will open my eyes to see inside
so my soul whispers with the wind.
Take a deep breath…
Words taken from a YouTube video by Condor Shaman that is no longer available.
Today is the Winter Solstice, the day the sun stands still, waiting. The year hangs poised on it’s fulcrum, about to turn us once again into lengthening days and the long journey back towards the light. Today felt subterranean. Beneath a sky of grey lace, Kevin and I found ourselves on a hill beside a spring near the village of Sharpthorne, Sussex. We were there with seer and shaman, Wind Singer to bless and honour the waters, a slightly different way for me to spend the shortest day of the year.
There is something I have always found special about bodies of water and rivers and springs are no different. Springs have been honoured for millenia – where there’s fresh water straight from the ground, it is life-giving and carries the note of the rock from where it issues, iron or other minerals which are beneficial. The waters of many springs were – and still are – believed to heal. The spring we visited today is a chalybeate spring. The word chalybeate derives from the latin word for steel which originally comes from the Greek word khalups, single for Chalybes, a mythical people who founded iron working from Mount Ida in Anatolia and where, incidently, Cybele, an Anatolian Mountain, Mother Goddess was worshipped.
In the russet landscape beneath an intensifying sky, We stood in a triangle around the spring pool. Bubbles rose up to the clear surface periodically – it seemed to be alive. Wind Singer felt the landscape energies and led the blessing. We laid holly for the male, mistletoe for the female and ivy for the light. And then we placed a woven square of twine beside the pool and scattered flowers on its surface to drift above the last water boatmen. I put my hands into the water and was surprised by its warmth and softness.
We will revisit this little spring and would like to give it a name. Something to do with Cybele perhaps, or iron or even a still, frozen sun.
Here’s an update on the painting front – and back into the world of blue.
In Brighton, there’s a new Pop Up Gallery next door to Retail Therapy where I sell cards and various other creations. Back in August I was invited to display some of my large paintings on reclaimed scaffolding board. I welcomed the invite and painted two new boards in acrylic, Goddess of the Vine and The Forest Rises.
I also gave a large, acrylic canvas called Water Maidens (Emerging in the gallery) which has undergone various incarnations and now features two “Water Spirits” inspired by the Russian legends of Rusalka. ( These are fish women who were said to live at the bottom of rivers and lakes and bring fertility to the land in Springtime. Some thought them to be the souls of young women who had died beside the waters. I’d like to explore these legends further…) Looking at the painting obliquely one can see the relief created by the scrim and oak leaves I added for texture.
To my surprise and pleasure, the first two paintings sold quite quickly and journeyed up to Derbyshire apparently. The gap they left needed to be filled, so I gave two more painted boards, my Moanna, River Goddess – she’s well acqainted with the River Cuckmere – and one called Mother Nature both of which had been happily guarding my living-room. (See the photo with both either side of a lamp in the gallery.)
Ten days later and Mother Nature acquired a new home. So back to painting I went and created another two goddess board paintings that are currently on sale in the gallery, Wings of a Dove and Butterfly Maiden.
The imagery for the paintings just comes to me. I’m not looking for anything typically symbolic, I guess I just like doves, vines, waves, macaws and butterflies – morpho butterflies of the tropical Americas especially! I am influenced by shamanic art and traditional religious art too and I think of the paintings as sort of totem poles or stelae, without the grave association :)
A few nights ago I had a dream that made an impression on me. In the dream, I was involved in a centenary project concerned with a crypt. My role was to update the crypt website. The crypt had a story, a legend involving a seventeenth century woman who would steal down into the crypt perhaps to meet her lover (?) One night the crypt flooded and the woman persished. Her ghost walks the crypt to this day.
The woman in the dream is, perhaps, a part of me, the crypt may symbolize or the unconcious, the hidden vaults, rooms, labyrinths of my mind. And that it is flooded? – I often dream of water – the sea, rivers, estuaries, swimming pools – emotions, the unconcious or memories. Centenary? … well, a hundred years ago, the First World War had just begun.
I made some sketches of my dream but what illustrates it best are a couple of montages I made with an old illustration and photographs that I took when visiting the Shell Grotto in Margate in 2012.
The Shell Grotto is an amazing and mysterious place with an unknown origin. It may date back 3000 years. Some wonder whether it was made by the Knights Templar. The shells decorating the walls are all of local origin but some of the designs are similar to those of ancient Phoenicia and it is thought that the name of the Isle of Thanet, once an island where Margate now lies, derives from the Phoenician goddess Tanit. Could this be a temple to the goddess?
The grotto walls are encrusted with shells in patterns of turtles, flowers, Gods and Goddesses, phalluses, planets, wombs, skeletons and there is what looks like an altar and a skylight, the only source of natural light. One theory proposes that the Grotto imagery symbolizes a journey from Birth through Life and Death to the Afterlife. One walks down into the grotto along passageways until one arrives at the main Altar Chamber. It is mysterious, magical and quite overlooked in a way.
The grotto suits the dream well although it’s not a crypt. The woman ghost or goddess of my dream wanders sea shelled passageways throughout the centuries.
I googled flooded crypts and seventeenth century ghosts to build a story. I found lovely images of Winchester Cathedral crypt that floods at certain times of year. In Winchester Cathedral crypt stands an Anthony Gormley sculpture of a man contemplating water in his cupped hands; it’s called Sound II. Anthony Gormley believes that there is a connection between memory and the basic physical elements of the world. He wondered whether it is possible to make something fresh like dew or frost, “something that just is, as if its form had always been like this”. I think the flooded crypt and sculpture beautiful. (Image of Sound II by David Spender.)
I was really pleased to sell my Water Goddess tryptich recently. And on the same day I had a commission to paint a version of Sun Dancer that I sold a few years ago. This was good encouragement to get some more paintings out there. Here are my latest, a River Goddess painting and another version of Siren: