Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Wayfarer's Year

This photograph seems to encapsulate how I feel right now. It was taken (by the wondrous Sylvia Linsteadt who came to visit! but more of that another time) in the early autumn sun as I strode across September-coloured Dartmoor with my baby boy on my back. This has been the most treasured and difficult of all the years of my life so far. I have had to learn to be a mother whilst we totally reconfigure our life. Building our Hedgespoken home and travelling theatre has taken all the energy we could muster and then it has kept on taking. And I continue to be stretched in more than three dimensions by the challenges and alchemys and incandescent joys of motherhood. Nevertheless I seem to keep on striding, and my back continues to hold strong enough for the weight it carries.
My creative life burns clear, though its outlets are small and fleeting. I draw when my boy sleeps and gradually have managed to work enough into the (many) dark hours with a biro and my head torch to create a perpetual calendar - The Wayfarer's Year - a kind of wall frieze showing the passing seasons as a traveller's road (the year) winds through them. It is printed on recycled card and folds out to a 12-month art piece. You can buy them for £12.50 in the Hedgespoken shop here, or on etsy here. They'll be good for any year or any time of year, of course!

I have also contributed manually to our truck build - tiling the kitchen with babe on back! This home of ours is being built with great care and craft, and has come on further since this picture was taken. If you'd like to see a little video update (with us looking very tired!) and hear more truck news, do go over to the Hedgespoken blog and look.

This little painting is titled Incantation Under a Winter Sun - another small creative achievement in the baby-sleeping moments. It is a prize in our Hedgespoken Winter Raffle, for which tickets are available here - you could own this original painting for just £1!

The sun seems far off now, our days are mud-drenched and rain-splattered and fog-hidden. Each trip to collect water is slippery and my bones ache with tiredness. We are still not in the truck, though another year turns, and expectations and plans must be readjusted. How do you stay positive whilst the challenges of uncoupling from a former life and building a new one mount? The dream must continue to be kindled, which is hard in these damp, dark days. I can't quite believe that my baby is 10 months old (and crawling!), and that Christmas is just days away! From within the fog and the slog of this year, a bright fire still burns, and I carry its embers over the threshold into 2016, a stronger and utterly changed woman from the one I was last year-cusp, and holding in my heart and arms the most golden of all things in my life: my son.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Wild Goddesses and Gods

IT'S AN AEON AND A MINUTE since I stood on that shore looking out over the then unknown seas of motherhood which were to wash over me just a few days after this photo was taken. And now my baby boy, deepest joy of my heart, is nearly 7 months old! Words feel strange on my tongue and under my fingers, it will take me a while yet to find good ones to weave around this new story of motherhood in all its depths, and the Rima that writes this now is a different one from the young woman looking out to sea there. But I am starting to feel a creative spring as the autumn falls on us in Dartmoor, and I am wondering how I might continue working as an artist whilst mothering. I feel all of you out there wondering at our news too, though spending time near a computer has proved almost impossible for me so far, so different are the ways of being required to be with my child and with a laptop! 
Much has been happening in our life and work since I was last here. Since the momentous Becoming-Three which happened at the end of February when snows were still falling, we've moved through spring and summer and we've left house life behind, selling many of our belongings in a rainy but enjoyable yard sale, and we've moved into a 16 foot yurt near to where the truck build is happening. I have work in three exhibitions, Hannah Willow & Friends at Obsidian Art in Buckinghamshire, a wondrous new gallery in Portland, Oregon: The Fernie Brae, and a winter show yet to come in our local Green Hill Arts Gallery in Moretonhampstead, Devon. All of this feels quite amazing given that I've hardly made any art all year! We have been out with my red handcart - a lovely creation made by our friend Eric from old doors and bicycle wheels from a drawing I gave him - selling my work on the streets of Totnes.

The truck build continues in its wonderful slow and majestic way, we hope to have an update on its progress soon over at Hedgespoken. During all the welding and decision-making and wood-planing and painting and hammering, a filmmaker from Germany, Marie Elisa Scheidt, has been accompanying our journey for a final piece for her studies. We are one of three protagonists in her documentary, which has a working title of Our Wildest Dreams, and which you can see glimpses of here. These two pictures below, taken earlier in the year, when both babe and truck-home were not quite so grown, are by her.
These days we are living in a circular space amid a copse of trees. We wake to hazel nuts being thrown down on our roof by squirrels and nuthatches, and fall asleep to owls, hooing close by our canvas walls.
Once more we're living a life where water and wood must be carried, and washing up must be done by lamplight. It is wonderful beyond words to be living with the leaves again, though different and harder with a baby, it feels so much lighter and righter than the house did. The view from our door looks like this:

But there is one thing I have managed to create with my hands since having a baby, and of this I am immensely proud. When Tom and I first met, we planned to make a book together; and five years later, having first created an even more incredible being together, we've finally made our first book - a small and beautiful chapbook, litho-printed on recycled paper by a workers' coop - this is Sometimes A Wild God, Tom's widely-loved poem, illustrated with six little ink drawings by me, which I did at night when little one was finally sleeping, though I wanted so much to be sleeping too... it was hard, and I felt very out of practice, but the constraints have forced a new kind of work out of me, and I think this is an interesting beginning. I hope you'll all go and have a look, you can order one for £7.50 from anywhere in the world at the Hedgespoken Shop. We are really proud of this, and excited that it heralds for us a new chapter of book making. But we need you all to support this endeavour by buying copies, spreading the word for us, and asking for it in your local bookshop or library.

Over the last couple of years, some of you have asked about buying the original Weed Wife painting, which I created in oils on burr oak in 2013. Up till now, it hasn't been for sale, I have felt it a deeply special painting and have been unsure how to put a price on it. However, we're now at a crucial point with our truck build, and struggling to make ends meet now that my income has all but disappeared. So, I am considering for the first time selling this painting if the right person comes along and offers me a sum I feel I could exchange it for. If you feel that might be you, please get in touch and let me know how much you might be willing to pay for it, and we can take it from there. I'd love for it to end up in some Herbal library or Wilderness school or somesuch, but perhaps you know of a place and a person who should have it... 

There is so very much to tell you, I don't know where to begin, and finding the right thread of story and secret is hard. I don't want to put pictures of my boy all over the internet, nor write his name, so these are just glimpses of back of head and little feet. But I do want to share some of my experiences as I go along, and hear from those of you amazing women who have gone before me, mothering and making art, mothering and living on the edges of things. I have a new-found awe for all women who do this most sacred of tasks. From the deep love and profound tiredness I salute you!