THE SUN HAS COME BACK! As it blinds us beautifully, glinting fondly remembered through high hedgerows and bouncing its spectrums from spider threads, we rejoice. But, alas we cannot bask in it - we're packing up the van for a long trip north tomorrow. Our road will take us to Scotland, and I don't know whether this longed-for sun has got as far up as that. We'll be travelling almost as far north as it's possible to go - to the Isle of Lewis, which I'm very excited about - I've never been to those islands off the west coast, up in the high north seas, where the edge of the land is a jagged archipelago.
So, in the midst of doing last minute rehearsals and writing many Lists of Things To Take on the backs of envelopes, I'm popping in here to tell you about our storytellings, and make a few other announcements, before we dash off.
We'll be doing four tellings of Ivashko Medvedko - Little Ivan, Bear Child - the unparalleled Russian Folktale comprising a very strong man, a clever maiden, three giants, underworld journeys and, of course, the Baba Yaga herself. Tom will tell the story, which I will illustrate with accordion and shadow; I'll have a little exhibition/stall at each place where you'll be able to buy prints and paintings, too. Here are the date and times and places and ticket information:
Friday July 27th, 7.30pm - Old Well Theatre, Moffat.
Tickets - £7 - available at the 'Present Time' gift shop, 2/3 High St, Moffat, or from the theatre. Here's a map.
Saturday July 28th, 3pm - Elshieshields Tower, Lochmaben.
Tickets - £5 – call 01387 811 470. Here's a map.
Wednesday August 1st, 7pm-10pm - Galgael Trust, Govan, Glasgow.
with special guest: Bulgarian singer Viara Ivanova.
All proceeds in aid of the Galgael Trust.
Saturday August 4th - Isle of Lewis.
Please contact Sharon Blackie of Two Ravens Press and Earthlines Magazine for more info: info [AT] earthlines.org.uk
Tom has written a lowdown of our trip here. In fact, whilst you're there at his new blog, you'd do well to read some of his stunningly moving poetry and stories of bears...
It's all a combination of exciting and terrifying. Will anyone come? Will we be strangled by nerves or fly with the story?
I urge and entice all of you who live in Scotland or know those who do to buy tickets and spread the word. Each venue will have a quite different feel to it, so choose whichever draws you.
In between, we'll be visiting old haunts, meeting friends and exploring the wilds of our north. Lewis is almost on a level with the bottom tip of Greenland, when you look at a map - I forget how northerly this little island of ours is.
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And what else? Well, of course a two week Storytelling Tour of Scotland isn't enough! As soon as we get home, on the 9th August, we'll be storytelling again here on Dartmoor at Chi Camp, organised by Angus Clarke of Living Movement. And then the following week we're off to this year's Uncivilisation Festival, which promises to be an altogether wilder, more acoustic and edgy affair than last year's. Have a look at the full programme - full of thought-provoking, soul and mind-stirring talks, performances and discussions, honourings of the road protests of the 1990s, superb music, scything workshops, herb walks, writing workshops, poetry, feral theatre, Brythonic music and fireside dancing courtesy of our friends Wod, childrens' council, folktales and much much more. For some time we've been plotting with a group of others - Mearcstapa - tasked with the weaving of art and a certain strangeness into the festival. As the programme describes us:
A collective of artists and performers who have been granted a fool’s licence to bring an anarchic creativity to the festival. They will provide an unpredictable extra layer to the programme: shape-shifting theatre; art and performance on the edges; the festival’s dark fringe spilling from the woods into the main spaces. There will be opportunities to take part, make your own art, and join them for a wild hunt in the woods!
We can't tell you what that will involve yet, you'll have to look out of the corners of your eyes when you get to the festival, but we hope it will honour the old gods of the land, and whip up an uneasy delight.
And the story Tom and I will be telling around the fire on the friday night will be a strange and wonderful and icy tale from the ferocious mythology of Chukotka, on the far eastern tip of Siberia. As the programme says:
Tom Hirons and Rima Staines bring you a tale from the Chukchi people of the far edge of Siberia: a tale of flying tongues and talking skulls, underworld wives and star-brothers, transformings and boundary-crossings and obsidian and fire-breathing reindeer. Sit by the fire; bring your blankets and your unrepentant strangeness, and be ready for curious happenings. At the main firepit, by the marquee.
If you'd like to buy tickets for Uncivilisation, be quick about it, there are less than 60 left, and they do tend to sell out.
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If, as we head north tomorrow, you should be heading south-west, I must recommend a lovely little gallery of local art and craft that has recently opened in Chagford - Artisan. I have work on show there - giclée prints and originals - alongside some of my talented Dartmoor neighbours: Virginia Lee, Danielle Barlow, Jason of England, Miriam Boy, Helen Melland, Yuli Somme and many others to come.
The gallery is run by Colette and Martin Brady, who wanted to create a space for local artists and craftspeople to showcase their work, and Chagford is delighted! Martin is also a leatherworker and his little workbench sits at the back of the gallery space, where you can see him completing the many commissions he's received since opening just a few weeks ago.
For those of you who can spot my work here amongst all the other delights, and are wondering who made the beautiful rustic frames - these are by David Winter, up in Yorkshire, who now provides all my frames for shows and galleries. He makes them from old pallets and wood found in skips, which he transforms into beautiful rustic dark-waxed frames, some still with old nails and staples embedded in the wood. I'm delighted to have found him, as these frames he makes are exactly what I'd make if I had the time to frame my work myself. I'd heartily recommend his craftsmanship and friendly service to anyone wondering how to frame prints of my work. He has an etsy shop too.
And for those of you in and around Devon during September, I'll be taking part in the popular Devon Open Studios event, for which I'll have to prepare frantically as soon as we return from our summer shenanigans.
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In our little cottage, as we stack boxes of kettles and tarps and prints and masks and diesel oil and spare loo roll and firewood and tea by the door, Macha looks at us reproachfully, knowing Something's Afoot.
Across the blue sky of July, the sun stares eye to eye with the daisies - each radiant eye looking into this day of ours, full of as many plans as daisy petals.
And we stand in the sun's light, our shadows long and reaching north. The three of us, off on an adventure...