Friday, March 8, 2019

A New Year... we are in March, so this new year is travelling very fast.  It has been a little while and more since I last wrote, but I have been busy.

When I last wrote, the 'Wolf Bride' was still fresh in my mind, after the performances at the Butter Factory Studios, a wonderful Artists' Collective of fantastic women.  And now, I'm one of them!  It's a very new and exciting adventure for me, I now have somewhere not only to show my work, but also a place, that's a little bigger than the tiny corner of our shed, to make that work.  I'm looking forward to all the possibilities this year presents.

But more on what I've been making and doing.  I had some fun a few weeks ago with scraps of fabric and onion skins.  I also decided it was high time I finished the Talesingr puppet.  I've had my small books of the Talesingr stories for sale in the gallery shop for a while, and it seemed the perfect time to bring the stories, the Talesingr's Children, and the Talesingr herself all together in one place.  So, I spent a few days sewing and stitching small scraps of naturally dyed silk and cotton, digging among my beads and bits and bobs collections, and bringing her to life.  I'm pleased with how she turned out, I think she is ready to tell stories now.  I hope I'm up to the challenge of collaborating with her.

The Talesingr sitting regally at the Butter Factory Gallery

I felt that it was time to give the Talesingr's Children a new lease of life.  I still have three of the five that I made, so I created new settings for them.  Here are two, together with the Talesingr at last.

The 'Tale of the Foolish Bird'

'The Tale of the Wolfbride'.  My first 'incarnation' of the story that became the songs, that became the poems, became the performance.

A couple of small, new pieces, currently in the gallery.  I'm working on a collaborative project with a friend that will become a performance for this year's Festival of Voice in June.  We are working with ideas of birds, flightpaths, flight, survival, migrations, refugees...and how to find home, a place of feathers have been much in my mind.

And...I bought a new guitar!  A lovely Tanglewood steel string acoustic electric dreadnought.  I am loving it.

I'm busy, busy, busy with creative things.  The first project is taking up much of my mind and time, we only have 3 months.  The Butter Factory has a major exhibition opening in the middle of April, and I'm working on ideas for that right now.  Then there is a big, storytelling project happening in town over the next few months, culminating in several performances at this year's 'Brave New Works' festival in November.  And there is another story knocking on my door and refusing to leave me alone, so I am researching and thinking and scribbling and making mad and strange connections between things.  It might be something and it might be nothing, but I won't know until I've taken the journey.  

Strange how these projects overlap and meld, I look up something, follow a thread of thought for one, and find myself side-tracked, hijacked and led by the nose into another.  The fundamental interconnectedness of all things.  And I love a quest.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Love is the Answer...

Quite a while ago, I decided to join in on Mo Orkiszewski's beautiful "I dream of a world where love is the answer" project.  Mo is an amazing artist living in Sydney, she creates the most beautiful stitched and multi-media works made from repurposed and found materials, natural findings and more.  The dream project brings together contributions of pennants and tiny talismans from artists all over the world, all to be gathered together by Mo into one beautiful art piece.  Do drop in to her website and have a look at all the other beautiful contributions, as well as Mo's own lovely work.  Here are a few quick photos of my piece, which will be winging its way eastward tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sadness and The Wolf Bride

Over the first weekend in November, I performed The Wolf Bride on three consecutive nights, during our Brave New Works #25 Festival.  It was nerve wracking, and marvellous, in equal measures.  I know I've done it before, but not quite like this, and not with an art exhibition to go with it.  Possibly trying to wear too many hats, I think, I'm glad I did it all, but I'm not sure I'd do it all again.

But the audiences were wonderful, and my tale seems to touch a nerve every time I tell it, as I not only had previous audience members back to see and hear again, but the comments from people seeing the performance for the first time told me how much this story resonates.  Something is coming through in this tale that touches people deeply, I keep hearing the same phrases over and over again, "you touched my heart..", " touched something deep inside me...", "I remembered my own wildness listening to your story..."  Audience members came up and clutched my hand to thank me...I even made blokes cry (not an easy thing in Australia!)  I can't take credit for all this, I think I've only managed to distill something that is coming through me, rather than of me, an old tale that we need to retell again.

I put my little books and prints out on display, and lots of people went home with them as well, I hope they enjoy the broadening of the story that the Wolf Poems bring.

And I found out a few days ago that one of the big paintings on display, the Cailleach Dancing, has bewitched one audience member so much that she has decided the Sharp Old Woman has to come home with her.  I do love it when a painting finds its owner, it whispers a story that they recognise, and they know it belongs to them.

Here are a few pics of the exhibition, and the performances.

More little booklets.  I'm a bit obsessed with books.

Decided to put all the Talesingr's Children into one little book.  I think it's about time for some more stories too.

A set/exhibition design in my Visual Journal.  In the end many of these ideas had to be abandoned simply because...well, sometimes, simple is best.  But, maybe they'll get used for something else one day!

And more thoughts on a simple 'travelling' set idea.

The final page in the Visual Journal.  The final version of 'This is Not a Wolf Poem'.

The Exhibition set up.

Set up for performance.

Yours truly!

And below, a sampler of this year's Brave New Works Festival, filmed by Michael Hemmings.  You can find a little snippet of me just past the 2 minute mark, but it's worth watching the rest.  Quite a show this little town puts on!

*      *      *

But sadness followed a wonderful weekend.  On Wednesday last week, I heard the news that a dear friend had passed away, in Scotland, where she has lived for the last twenty years.  And it dawned on me that SHE was the wild spirit I knew who really did, "disappear outdoors in all weathers and at all hours, because the first snow must be danced in barefoot..." just as my Wolf Bride did.  I didn't realise how much she had influenced my story, and now I will never be able to tell her, and she will never hear it.  Sophia would swim pretty much anywhere she could find water deep enough, no matter what the weather.  She danced barefoot on beaches and paddocks and moors and the machair, and she sang.  She sang anywhere and everywhere there was someone to listen, in folk clubs and pubs, at Celtic Connections and other festivals many times over the years. She was the person who talked me into joining the Gaelic choir she co-founded, way back in 1996 when we met and bonded over W.B. Yeats at uni.  I doubt if I'd be singing in public at all if it wasn't for her.  It is surreal to lose someone you've known for so long, who has been living a long way away for so is as if she is still 'over there', and I can't quite get my head around the idea that she won't be turning up to stay a few days and drink whiskey and talk and sing long into the night.  Here she is, singing with Skeeal, a Manx group she sang with a few years ago.  She had the most glorious, deep, earthy beautiful voice, but could reach soaring heights too.  I still can't believe she's gone.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Song Paintings

As is usual for me, when I'm really getting down to the pointy end of the project and time is running short, I get ideas that I just don't have time for, but they get me motivated and focussed when I'm feeling rather I do them anyway.

On Sunday, I had an image in my head of a small canvas with wolf's eyes and ears peering back at me.  With some text, of course, because I'm obsessed with text and words and language.  So now I've done three canvases, which is great, because I do love a 'set', and my work is so eclectic that I get quite irrationally excited when I can maintain an idea/style/media/genre for more than one item!

I came down with a dreaded 'lergie' on Sunday last week, and it rather knocked me for six for a few days and I didn't do ANYTHING Wolf Bride related, except lie in bed feeling glum and thinking of all the things I SHOULD be doing.  But sometimes it's also the universe telling you that you need to slow down and stop stressing.  So I came up with a few new, but simple, ideas, and also decided on a simpler set design, because I was definitely worrying about whether it would all work, and worrying that I wouldn't know until I set it up on the day.  I also have a new section of narrative that rounds the whole story out better, and a new song, so I'd better get cracking learning those.

Here are two of the new paintings (or rather, drawings on canvas), I'll post a pic of the third one when I've taken a decent photo of it.

Back to the coal face!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Four Weeks to go!

My brain is in danger of suffering overload at the moment.  As much as I know how good a deadline is for me (because I can happily waffle on with any project ad infinitum), I'm feeling a bit all-over-the-shop right now.  It's because The Wolf Bride project is a thing of many parts, and although Chaos and Procrastination are my middle names, what I'm finding a bit of a challenge, is the lack of a space to spread everything out so I can SEE all the parts at once.  The way I like to work is a kind of orderly chaos, with all the separate parts out and visible, so that I can move between them all and work on whichever takes my fancy at the moment.  So I'd like to be constantly moving between writing poems sitting in this spot, picking up the guitar and playing there, scribbling ideas in my journal at my desk, hanging up sheets in this corner to try out some idea I've just scribbled about in my journal, turning a poem I've just written into a song, painting something large on the easel, going back to my journal...and so on.  But, I live in a shed.  With three other people and a large hairy dog.  And my desk has got art/writing/research stuff all over it...and so has the table I squeezed into the tiny corner I call my studio, so I've spilled over onto the dining table (which is right next to the work table), and I can only do one thing at a time...which is really hard for me because I'm just not that organised that I can schedule, "Right, I'm going to spend this morning writing poems, this afternoon, I'll practice the songs.  On Monday, I'll work on paintings, and I'll spend Tuesday on set ideas."  My brain just does NOT work like that!  Oh, for a studio!  One day!

Anyway, here are some things I've been working on and playing with.  I've also got a new song in the works, and a chunk of new story narrative.  Hmmm, hope I have enough time to learn it all!  Eeek!

I spent most of yesterday wresting with computer and printer (how do they always know you're in a hurry and somewhat stressed?!) to print out some 'Wolf Poem' booklets.  A day and a half and I've got 12 finished!

A rough sketch idea for a third large painting (which I may not have time to do!).  I'm not sure if I like the idea now.

Here is my performance space, in the lovely old Butter Factory Gallery.  The Butter Factory artists are such lovely people, but it is a very dangerous space for me, because I LOVE their work and have found myself buying things that I really can't afford, and have no place to put either!

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