Swallows galore, two swifts, one house martin, a cuckoo, dandelions and lots to paint. Social distancing not advised from any of the above.
CLOSE TO HOME
CLOSE TO OTHER-THAN-HUMAN NEIGHBOURS
CLOSE TO FULL MOON
CROW AND ROBIN AT LOW TIDE. Castle Cove, Weymouth, Dorset. 16x11cm. Gouache with beach materials on handmade cotton rag paper. £350 unframed including p&p.Framing can be arranged but not immediately. Contact me if interested.
I watched a crow and a robin the other evening...the crow did the heavy work of turning over weed and stones. The crow was aware of the smaller bird but they were not competing for the same food so he did not see him off. The robin placed himself at a respectful distance to take tiny pickings that the crow overlooked.
A friend of mine has a robin nesting in her kitchen. Two eggs have hatched.
'Something essential happens in a vegetable garden. It's a place where if you cant say "I love you" out loud, you can say it in seeds. And the land will reciprocate, in beans.' page 127. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Two goldfinches were feasting on dandelions the other day- selecting closed seed heads- deftly and systematically opening them up and consuming. I waited until they marched away and then I went over to look where the birds had been. Barely anything remained of the dandelion except a few parachutes. Enough to establish a few new plants.
Passing the 'goldfinch' lawn on my walk earlier today, I noticed each 'weed' was being sprayed with weed killer.
Lawn? Flawless and green?
As well as supplying generous meals to the birds and bees, the dandelions had assured a future before annihilation. They would have been one of the first flowers to feed early bees. And yet, its bright face to that gardener is 'weed'. Little Weed of my childhood was bright yellow too but she wasn't fierce. . Its french name, 'dent du lion' speaks of this plants tenacious grip on the world.
I've been helping out a friend with her allotment and I too have been harvesting dandelion roots for soups... mixing them with cleavers, nettles and chives. Every part of a dandelion is nutritious.
In the wonderful book Braiding Sweetgrass I have been reading of 'honourable harvests' of gratitude and of courtesy.
'Here on my knees in the dirt, I find my own ceremony of reconciliation. Bend and dig, bend and dig. By now my hands are earth colored as I settle the last of the plants, whisper words of welcome and tamp them down.'
Painting feels like this. I see myself as an earth gardener working as I do on the ground with the ground. I've been doing a lot of digging over these last weeks...in many senses of the word. Digging and quietening.
This earth is lit bright by the presence of the magnificent dandelion. 'Weeds' persist in spite of continuing opposition. I'm learning a lot of wisdom from weeds. I'm learning the wisdom of what is close, local and ordinary.
I include a poem about bringing in my washing the other evening. I've never valued these ordinary acts quite as I do now because I was always on the way somewhere else.
Dent du Lion
I'm so happy to say that my friend who was on life support at the time of writing the last newsletter is on the way to recovery. 'Dent du lion' also speaks out for his tenacious grip on life and of the brightness of his life and his marriage.
Close to home indeed.
RAVENS SIP FRESH WATER True gesso and watercolour with shore materials on recovered wood. 14x11x4cm. £420 including p&p. contact me if interested.
Ravens have a nest somewhere near my home in pine trees. I like to think these two are local residents. When I walk down along the shore where water seeps from under the cliffs, I often meet them drinking there and foraging like me. Working with gesso slows me right down. It is a very ancient technique and it doesn't take kindly to haste.
I'm grateful to the following galleries who continue their support of my practice at a time when my natural inclination is to be quiet: work can be viewed in these (temporarily virtual!) places. All work here is for sale. Enquire via me or via the gallery as appropriate:
FROM DORSET WITH LOVE an online exhibition just open at Sladers Yard. See works here
THE COMMON GROUND exhibition in Farnham will reopen but til then the work can be viewed here
KEVIS HOUSE GALLERY always has work on line to view
FROM DORSET WITH LOVE
an online exhibition just open at Sladers Yard. See all the works here
FROM DORSET WITH LOVE:
FIRST LIGHT, DUNGY HEAD, LULWORTH. 55x90cm. 2019. Gouache and site earths on cotton rag handmade paper £1800. 55x90cm framed size.
I've chosen two images of two different experiences of the same headland. In the morning experience, the early sun caressed the top of Dungy Head.
FROM DORSET WITH LOVE:
EVENING EXCHANGE, DUNGY HEAD. LULWORTH watercolour, gouache and earth materials on cotton rag handmade paper June 2019. 114x150cm. £4500.
In this evening time, the stone was basking in the light of the low sun behind me (see the next image). I had a sense that if I touched the cliff it would contain warmth from the day.
FROM DORSET WITH LOVE:
making EVENING EXCHANGE, DUNGY HEAD near Lulworth Cove last June
WILLOWS FIRST THING, Portland Harbour. True gesso, beach materials (Sandsfoot clay and grit and paper litter) and watercolour on cotton rag paper. 22x16cm.£410 unframed including postage. Contact me if interested.
This is the view the washing line enjoys- over to the willows!
BRINGING IN THE WASHING
By the time I’m home the moon has climbed above the oak
remnants of day hang around the west
in cooling air
Limp cottons still remember sun
pegged with perfume of day
dusk and detergent
a last sock
I gather it all in
folding the outside inside
so no fragrance is lost
I want pillow to be breeze
I'm opening up a few hours in the week for anybody who would like to explore the possibility of support for their practice through on-line or telephone mentoring. This may be particularly helpful during these weeks of isolation- but equally I've found there is always value in setting time aside for onself in this way. To consider our practice in conversation with a fellow creative can provide focus, direction and facilitate growth. If you have worked with me before and feel I could be useful...or if you would like to connect for the first time do emailme. I will then send more details about format and fees and options. It is valid as a one-off option, as a regular commitment or as required.
'Gifts of mind, hands, heart, voice, and vision all offered up on behalf of the earth. Whatever our gift, we are called to give it and to dance for the renewal of the world.
In return for the privilege of breath.'
Page 384. Epilogue. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
These words seem particularly poignant at this time.
I say goodbye for now- take great care and go well.
My mailing address is:
Unit 1, Basepoint, Jubilee Close, Weymouth, Dorset DT47BS
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