Monday, 6 June 2011

The Wide Skies

GOODNESS! It's June! Somehow we have leapt over Spring and a wet May, and stand barefoot and blinking on the other side in the tall dry grass. The green is no longer just emerging: it is wild and abundant! The hedgerows quiver and the leaves are warm. I'm sitting writing this looking out on trees and plants alive with industrious bees and sparrows, and scuffled-under by our three resident chickens. Since last I wrote, we've moved to our wonderful new house on the hill and spent time nesting in under the thatch. House moves are rather momentous and exhausting apparently, and it's taken me some time to gather my wits from amongst the fluff and old twopences at the bottoms of all the cardboard boxes as we've unpacked. We're hallooing at the wonder of our happily-found home and I shall tell you tales of this new and idyllic residence in due course, but there's rather a lot of other news to report too, not least an adventure to the other side of England (during which we visited both our families, Tom sat a Chinese Medicine exam and I completed two oil paintings!!) to tout our wares at my favourite fair: Weird and Wonderful Wood. So for today, I'll show you the wonders of that wonder, and hope over the next weeks to bring you a few more regular updates on things painterly, homely, masked and summerly...

This year's Weird and Wonderful Wood fair welcomed us in its own friendly arboreal way on the Friday evening to set up camp in good time for the weekend's impending festivities. This year I'd chosen to be outdoors again: I like it better on grass, and under the sky, and I am coming to a conclusion that the outdoors is my favourite gallery too. 


          
We came equipped with the most excellent tent: A ten man ex-army Arctic bell tent, which came in part-exchange for a painting still in progress for tipi-makers Ian and Merle of Hummingbird Tipis. It's brilliant to be able to stand up in your tent, we have space to wander about inside... in fact if you'd wanted to swing a cat you could've. And to add to the luxury-under-canvas, we had our new portable woodburner to keep us warm in the evenings and on which to cook all our meals and brew all our teas. This fold-up wonder, The Frontier Stove, originally designed for use in disaster situations, just works so well. The stove pipe comes apart and stows away inside the burner, the legs fold up and you can carry it away in one hand; it burns hot on just a handful of gathered wood, and can be closed down with the damper to burn quietly for hours. It even has enough space on top for a frying pan of bacon and eggs, a pot of coffee, a pan of milk and two small breakfast breads. And so we ate and lived like Wayside Royalty and sat out under the wide East Anglian skies with mugs in hand and thoughts of summer. 


In front of our tent (which sagged a bit round the edges due to the fact that the guy ropes are measured for horizonless Arctic wastes, not snug festival pitches – this will need to be further mulled upon for a solution, though it was fine inside) we constructed a canvas emporium with an ochre roof, alder supports and garden trellis for walls. Ropes tied to trees and ground pegs held it all up and the interior was a patchwork of assorted fabrics and old carpets. Pictures were hung inside, and bunting triangles (cut out gallantly by Tom's mum from her vintage fabric collection) were attached to guy ropes to prevent midnight accidents. The Mad Hatter grinned from a tree, and a witch perched atop an easel on which rested a brand new painting (about which more soon).
But the crowning glories of this year's display were Tom's Magnificent Masks! We hung them between tent and tree and all down the tent-mast where they watched passers by with mischievous interest. These beautiful Smickelgrim Masks are exquisitely handmade from oak-tanned leather, hand painted with leather dyes and polished with Tom's own-recipe beeswax polish made with the help of local Dartmoor bees. I'm dearly and immensely proud to see our creations displayed together like this, don't they match perfectly?

But this brilliant project of Tom's is only just beginning, and awaiting a website and all (which the multi-talented maskmaker will create once he's finished his end of year Acupuncture exams!), so I'll not tell you the whole masquerade here, I'll just whet your appetite with a few pictures and with a whispered hint that there are some masks appearing for sale in Tom's etsy shop now for early birds (or indeed discerning vagabonds, incognito Romantics and stylish revolutionaries) in need of a disguise. This is just a trial price too, so be quick to be the first canny owners of these harlequinned works of art!


The fair passed in a whirl of faces and fascinations, and I'm sorry to say my photo-documenting was a little thin on the ground. I got none of the cosy interior of our tent, so you'll have to wait until its next outing for those. But our shop was busy with old friends and new friends and everyone in between. I was delighted to meet the flesh-and-bone versions of a few folks from this online world, particularly Francois Latreille, who was travelling the UK for some months before heading home to Canada and the beginning of his studies, and whose path steered him through Suffolk for this fair and to give me a poem, and Julie Howe who gave us candles :)

 

Friends and families came too: here I am with young Taliesin, dear son of friends Poppy and Curt (and Macha who is looking more like some sort of heraldic weasel). And we were happily pitched by Ash and Sarah whose wagon was the scene of last year's idyllic firelit evening

This year they were selling vintage books and their own glass-etched brilliant signs. Their daughter Tilly was proffering wares too...
                 
 
 

In between us Candy Sheridan had her resplendent Roma caravan and old-time Gypsy-painted wares. On our other side were Jon and Amalia, makers of the artfully blacksmithed Windy Smithy woodburners.
And the rest of the fair? Well I hardly left my perch, but in brief dashes to buy lemonade or nip behind a bush, I spied many inspiring and industrious folks conducting a thrilling range of workshops for children and adults alike... all with wood in one form or another.

There was puppet making, paper making, withy weaving, spoon carving, and a myriad other distractions. That's our friend Jason Parr teaching folks to carve spoons – he gave us one each too; aren't they lovely?

There was impromptu music and wandering stilted tree-people, there were pole-lathers and artisans, timber framers and axe carvers, chainsaw carving using a fallen trunk of sequoia from which I squirrelled offcuts for future paintings, and drawers of old tools through which to rummage: we brought home a mallet of wood and a mallet of copper, and a handsome machete which now chops our kindling.

 
  
These fairs are always an exhilarating melee of inspiring and enjoyable and exhausting talk, earth and wooden tent pegs and woodsmoke and damp socks, money changing hands, faces familiar and new and half-remembered, children and animals and ice-creams, dirt under your fingernails, wandering performers and minstrels-in-the-distance, wonderful handmade artefacts and battered old bric-a-brac, ale and bunting, and the glowing tiredness of sun-browned cheekbones.

At the end of it all, wares and wherewithal packed small, we took Macha and a bottle with a mouthful of cider left in it and a small tray of halva for a walk in the wide green Suffolk fields under the wide blue Suffolk sky and we sat amongst the stems, jangling-eared and happy, and Macha swam like an otter through the barley.





59 comments:

Sonya said...

We plan to travel to the UK in the coming years and now I'll make sure we can make that wood festival,

Wayward Harper said...

Looks like it was a beautiful, merry weekend :)
And Tom's masks are just gorgeous! They look like they'd be such fun to make. Ooohh and I can't wait to see the new painting! xx

steven said...

hello rima! there are so many wonderful little worlds within this one great big one. i love visiting yours. this post was like reading a magic book. steven

rainblissed said...

Beautiful! Love your shop tent and the masks - swoon! I'm so happy festival season has begun. We spent this weekend at the Medieval Faire and look forward to many more amazing events in the coming months. And one day...we'll do the UK's festival circuit, too :-)

Diane said...

What a festive and glorious event! I wish I could have been there!

Diane

Hussam Elsherif said...

This is wonderful! Thank you Rima for giving us a glimpse into worlds filled with magic and inspiration. Wishing you & Tom many happy wanders and wonders in June.

warm wishes and sea breeze
from the land of palm trees

pRiyA said...

What an utterly amazing enchanted world Rima. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through.

Genevieve said...

I so enjoy your tales & wish you all the best.

by Teresa said...

I adored all the images, wishing I was there... and mostly your evocative description of the end of the fair, you happy and exhausted and the dog leaping through the fields...

I'd love to invite you over to my blog to see images of my 2 little granddaughters leaping through the ocean of Oregon..

((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Eva said...

It's like being there... thank you!

Charlotte said...

How wonderful the weird wood is, one year, one year we will come and visit. You look so happy and your work is absolutely superb. I adore masks and Toms work is fantastic (superlatives fail me!).

Thank you for sharing your precious time.

gz said...

A good festival indeed, and you're fortunate in having someone you care for to travel with and share life.
Blessings Be to your new home too.

Monika Schmid said...

What a wonderful fair! Your wares look wonderful as usual but even more special displayed in the wonderful tent. As always, I loved your post!:-)

Alice ~ writer, crafter, boater said...

A wonderful glimpse into this fair... I now wish to go next year! and bravo for all your hard work, paintings and masks alike - they certainly do seem meant to sit alongside each other...

and of course, dogs bouncing through the long grass, you simply cannot beat it. Enjoy your pretty thatched cottage in these summery months x

Martin H. said...

Great to read this latest post, Rima. Nice photographs too! I'll have to try and catch this event, maybe next year.

Heather said...

Another amazing post Rima - I can almost sense the atmosphere of the Fair from here. I love your Emporium, Tom's masks, your wonderful paintings, the bunting and those wobbly spoons. Macha looks to be enjoying freedom in the last photo. I hope the Fair was good for you both and it's lovely to hear from you again.

Snippety Giblets said...

Lovely ! You've captured the essence of it exactly :0) We had such a lovely day. Tally is really excited to see himself immortalised on your blog :0)

Love to you two
x

Sue said...

Lovely post, lovely spoons, lovely photo of you with my friend, Carol's grandson Taliesin. What a small world it is! Looks a wonderful fair and experience

Helen Suzanne said...

wonderful post Rima. You make me really want to visit next year.

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Dear Rima it all looks wonderfully filled with colour and magic! Your tent with stove and eggs and bacon looked yummy! Hope you sold tons of your things.

Hugs Jane

Rima said...

It's very lovely to be back, friends :) Thank you for your welcome and kind words as always.
Warmest wishes from Devon where the sun is trying to shine this morning...

Jessie said...

Thankyou for the enjoyable visit to the fair, albeit through the powers of Webmagic! I love the display of all your wares and the masks are very eye catching and go wel with your paintings. :) Best wishes for your new home!xx

clairedulalune said...

Hello Rima, I love coming here, I find your art so beautiful! All the best!

Refindlings said...

Beautiful & lovely post. Thank you for sharing with us and transporting us to your land of enchantment!

Ashley said...

That looks like such a great time!

The Tuckerbag

Gerry Snape said...

I am truly overwhelmed at the wonderful goods here in this post! of course I always love your paintings but it all looks stunning . Thankyou

jodi said...

Beautiful! Your words and photos really capture the fair... I can just almost feel leafy summer breezes and breathe in the wood smoke I think! Tenting has to be one of the loveliest things of all. How wonderful to have a tent shop!

Wishing you the finest storybook days in your new home and good luck at your coming fairs. I can't wait to see your new paintings!

Lunar Hine said...

Of course your wares complement each other wonderfully: they are made with heart and your hearts are one.
And it does all fit on my screen.

Meg said...

What a lucky woman you are to go to these things! Sounds like heaven. I'll make it to the U.K. someday, I almost made it this year but I didn't have the money (spent it all on college tuition and art supplies) and also it interfered with the Red Sox. Hope you have a lovely June, here in Connecticut we already have rugosa roses blooming farmers haying (a little early this year, but hopefully if means three or four cuts for them after 2009s washout, when it rained too much).

Sweet Harvest Moon said...

Amazing pictures! Love the last one

http://sweetharvestmoon.blogspot.com

Breenee said...

Rima, so glad you're back to tantalize with this romantic little post. I feel sometimes when i read about your life that I have a glimpse through time as well as space, becuse you seem to occupy a far-off fairy world of simple pleasures and feasts for the senses. Thaks, ever, for sharing it!

Lisa @FishyFaceDesigns said...

What a magical wonderful weekend...The atmosphere must of been amazing...I really do need to get out to a fair soon. Thank you so much.

Take Care

herhimnbryn said...

Beautiful
beautiful
beautiful
beautiful....

Swan Artworks said...

It all looks so wonderful - it is a very aptly named fayre isn't it! I would love to go... Your tent of wares looks beautiful, and the masks go so well with your paintings.
Carrie... :)

Zen Forest said...

I'm a big fan of your vending tent ~ that colour palette always gets me - some variation of red/green/gold. In fact, I've just painted our front door this way!
And the torans add the perfect touch of "Festival!" feeling, don't they? :)

Your photos at the bottom sitting amongst the barley feel very good and I'm going to look into that Frontier Stove for heating the greenhouse in wintertime!

*scratch behind ear to Macha*

Blessings Always,
Tiff

Jenny said...

Rima, that looks like such a good time. I wish I had a beautiful life such as yours, but I am glad that someone, somewhere out there is having it :)

Are you curious about me? said...

I hope that your candles are shining brightly... W

e had a wonderful day at the Weird and Wonderful Wood, meeting yourself and Tom was a joy, what lovly people you are not only on your respective blogs but in the flesh too.

~ Julie

Thank you for the link.

Claire said...

it looks absolutely heavenly!!! truly the best of merrie england...

LyndaA said...

Wow That looks such a lovely event to have been at. I must really get organised to attend things like this. Hope your sales were good - the weather looks like it behaved. Did order a clock from you for my daughter's 21st but she's 22 now :-) No worries i guessed you were snowed under. All the best
Lynda

Els said...

What a gorgeous event! Would have LOVED to visit and see your beautiful products "in real"... But with all these Photos it was a bit like being there THANK YOU so much!!!

Karan said...

Hello Rima and Tom,

congratulations on moving house and settling in so quickly. And what adventures you had! Lovely, lovely, lovely!

Josh said...

Tom!

jude said...

i like all the smiles.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I have been following your lovely blog for awhile, I'm happy for you and adore your art.
What has happened to your house truck you made.

yours in peace Sabbath

Moon Girl said...

Rima I have been following your blog for nigh on three years now. I so enjoy the way you write and the wonderful images you show us. Thankyou so much for continuing to allow us to share in your beautiful world.
Bronte

Laini said...

The masks are absolutely wonderful! I feel very luck to have purchased one!

Anne said...

Beautiful photos.....
It looks so lush and green and warm in your photos. Its winter and its very cold and rainy over here at the moment.

You look very beautiful and happy in your photos.....:)

Thanks for sharing a bit of your world with us.

Brilig said...

What a place to be ! I resolve to visit the Weird and Wonderful fair.

Bests from Brilig

Mouse said...

God, how I envy you your lifestyle. Beautiful words and pictures as always, thanks for sharing.

Katie said...

you look so slavonic here its no wonder you like slavic things.I also enjoy the pictures of you and your beau i thought to myself what interesting conversations they must have.

Vita said...

It truly is a wonderful glimpse into your world and the fair looks amazing! Your tent with the paintings and the masks seems to be straight out of a century or two ago;) Really enjoyed my visit to your blog today.

Caroline said...

Oh My Goddess I have never seen such work. Beautiful, I think you have just found your newest fan. I will definitely be going to Weird and Wonderful Wood next year as I lived for 24 years in the next village, alas I no longer live there and haven't done for 15 years but this kind of thing is right up my street.

Again, beautiful beautiful work.

laoi gaul~williams said...

Ohh that made my soul sing~i have marked it as a destination for us and our home on wheels for next year~i could feel the beautiful atmosphere

lynda Howells said...

thank you once again for a wonderful blog entry..felt l was there. have marked it on my calender and found it's website, so we can go next year. Congrats on your new home and may you found happiness therex lynda

Owlfarmer said...

I'm just catching up with your always-inspiring blog; I've spent a lovely morning reading through the last few months while the temperature's still cool enough to enjoy. I meant to tell you that some of my students have read your dissertation on drolleries and such in preparation for their illuminated manuscript projects this year, and despite the fact that they don't usually read much, they report having enjoyed the whole thing.

I'm going to tell my myth students about your site as well, since we'll be doing a mask workshop, and I'm sure they'll be inspired by your Tom's amazing work. I do confess, however, to wanting to keep you something of a secret--since you seem to have no lack of admirers.

Have a great summer!

janet said...

Dear Rima,
You transport me to another wonderful world...for that I say ...

"Thank You"

Be well and enjoy your summer

Janet xox

mokihana said...

How wonderful to visit with you via your blog, and see the new life you have crafted ... somethings old, and some are new! Still the forest of words from people admiring your art, and such amazing masks from TOM. Being a mask-wearer I am enthralled and inspired to continue with spiritelling from behind the mask.

Always a pleasure to visit you, Rima.
Love,
Mokihana

throughthehiddendoor said...

Oh those masks are absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

A Magical Whimsy said...

Oh! Rima
What wondrous bliss to be able to participate in an arts fair with your wares for sale! I dream of visiting the Fair Isles, but doubt if I will ever be able to...I should have done so when I was in my early twenties...but alas...hindsight was not a vision when I was twenty. We did have a very similar fair in a park in Southern California years ago...a park called 'Mile Square Park' where there were tents, and fabulous metal work artists who made magical rings, and wondrous masks, and where the Mythapoeic Society read 'The Hobbit' and The Lord of the Rings out loud, with it's second following in the late 1960's. The Hippie years, the Flower Children years...the free spirit years...where your heart could soar and be free...it's all a matter of attitude...because the feeling is still there...all we have to do is live the fairy tale. Thank you for sharing such fairy tale joyousness. We all need a good dose of fantasy and magic to keep us going toward that eternal Light...when some day...all will be bliss and there will be more to the tangible dream than we can ever imagine.
Thank you for a glimpse into that realm.
Good Fortune to you
Teresa in California