Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Red & Gold

THE LAST GOLDEN LEAVES cling quivering to the trees' black November-bitten fingertips; whether they hang suspended far off in the quiet Dartmoor fogs that have moved over these hills lately, or are edged by the crisp bright low light of autumn, they are beautiful. 
But Oh! I have so much to do! This blog is overdue many tales of things done in the days gone before, that continue to go before at an astounding rate, but for now I must tell you of preparations for Yuletide, music, greetings cards, fairs and suchlike...


In a fit of un-Rima-like organisation, I began painting my yearly winter painting a while ago now. And it was to double as a poster for a Yule gig we are planning, which I shall tell you about in a few paragraphs' time.


This is called Feast of Fools, remembering the old tradition of Misrule in the middle of winter - the festival of turning things on their heads, making fools into kings for a day, and servants into masters. 


Here a motley crew in their fools' caps make their way to a gathering in a winter village. They travel there ridiculously of course: some try to sail their ship of fools across the snow, one carries his ass in a cart. Around the fire, bagpipe music is serenading the foolish antics of the red-and-yellow jesters there, and above it all, even the moon behaves like a loon.
I painted this in oils on canvas board as an experiment in painting on a different surface. This meant using the paint in a much more impasto way that I am used to, and also gave the final piece a background weave, which I quite like.

Feast of Fools
oils on canvas board
© Rima Staines 2012
prints available here

And so to the actual Feast of Fools...
My friend Suzi Crockford and I are organising a tremendous gathering of music and storytelling for a rollick of Yuletide cheer in the Chagford Jubilee Hall two days before Christmas (and two days after the end of the world!). There'll be our esteemed friends from Oxford Telling the Bees with their simply beautiful darkly crafted psychedelic folk music, as well as local apocalyptic bluegrass quartet The Kestor String Band with their superb purple moorgrass music, and my own trio Krasa - that's Lisa Rowe on fiddle/accordion, Tim Heming on clarinet/bass and me on accordion/flute - we'll be throwing some stonking Klezmer, Balkan and Eastern European tunes into the pot.
As well as all that, the ever-talented Tom Hirons will tell us strange tales of folly and wisdom, and be our be master of ceremonies for the night.
There'll be local ale and cider, mulled wine and mince pies, and an abundance of warmth, and festive foolery.


Here's the painting transformed into a flyer. If this fiery festive concoction tempts you, you can buy tickets locally at Sally's Newsagents in Chagford square, or else online here. Do come: it'll be marvellous! Here's the facebook event page.




Next in the catalogue of wonderful things... I have new greetings cards for sale!
Last year, I made a tidy loss on my winter cards due to my decidedly unmathematical brain, so this year, Tom has been helping me enormously by dealing with the unfathomable numbers aspect of my business. Also, I have been a good deal more organised and made a big print order of greetings cards. These are not just Yule cards - they can be sent any time of the year... I have cards for births, cards for old age, cards for weddings, cards for transformations, cards for trials, cards for journeys, cards for celebrations, as well as plenty of wintry cards too.  They're all blank inside for your own message.


I'm exceedingly proud to announce that they are all printed with vegetable-based inks on 100% recycled card by a worker-owned cooperative. 
I'm selling them singly, so that you can pick and choose the designs and amounts you like. They sold fast last year, so grab them now, before they're all gone!


This Saturday 24th November, I'll be selling these cards, along with my prints, framed with handmade reclaimed wooden frames at the excellent South Devon Steiner School Advent Fair, in Dartington. Last year this was more like a mini-festival than a school fair - with chai tents and stone-baked pizzas, pole-lathes and outdoor forges, not to mention the plethora of truly excellent craft and art; it's worth a visit if you're around on Saturday.


That evening I also have a gig with Krasa at a party in another Devon village, which I'm practising madly for, and quite nervous about - our only performance together so far has been busking, so this and the Feast of Fools will be our winter debuts as a proper band!
If you're Devon based and can't make the fair on Saturday, I'll also have a stall in Chagford's Endacott House at a small craft fair on December 15th. And there are always framed archival giclée prints and smaller works of mine available at Chagford's Artisan Gallery too, should you be searching these South-Western lanes for gifts this winter. 


In the gaps between my mad days of finishing commissions, beginning new ones, preparing for fairs and practising the accordion, I have snuck out with Macha for walks down the auburn-fringed lanes around our house. 


One evening took us sniffing and squelching along glinting yellow hedgerows and down the hill...


The hedge-leaves and Macha's fur were all picked out in gold, like the pages of a very precious book.


We found an open gate, and ran, arms-wide into the steep green field which overlooked the nearby hamlets, hills and moor beyond...


And then we walked on, further downhill...


The mossy middle of the lane was carved in a beautiful khaki evening light, and the shadows were long...


Toward the bottom of the hill, we could see an intriguing shape in the field ahead...


This is Spinster's Rock - a neolithic dolmen, just round the corner from our house!


It stands in a farmer's field, and is often used as a rain shelter by sheep. There are varying legends about three spinsters (i.e. women who spin wool, rather than single ladies) and how they erected the stones, or else became them. It feels perfectly safe to sit inside, (despite the precarious-looking granite capstone) and watch the last long sun rays sweep the tops of the trees.


On the edge of this field, there's a beautiful beech tree, grown over long years into the wall, crowned with fire.


On the way back up the hill, we spy soft-breathing neighbours through the hedge, caught in the mauve light of near dusk ...


And the sun sets behind us, silhouetting Kestor on the skyline, and the wide wild expanse of our Dartmoor.


23 comments:

Heather said...

Such lovely images of the Devon countryside and Macha enjoying herself. The Fools painting is so beautiful and such fun and I wish you every success with your seasonal fairs and performances.

Charlotte said...

A stunning and joyous post Rima. I enjoyed your walk with Macha and look forward to seeing your cards. Impasto suits your style,will look forward to more of the same.

Enjoy the misrule, am wishing we could visit you in person, but will send my best wishes from the Midlands and play the fool with my two little lords of misrule instead.

Tiffany Davidson said...

Those cards are *perfect.* Will you be keeping them available all year? I know I would surely purchase some as different events played out . . .

This misrulery event looks enticing! I'd sure like to get in on whatever those three 'round the fire have got in to ~

x

Rima Staines said...

Thank you folks :)) Your words are always so lovely to read.

Tiff - and everyone else - yes, they'll be available all year round, so long as stocks last :)

Owl said...

A real pleasure to call in and see your work & surroundings. Beautiful blog & perspective :o)

Thomas Haskett said...

Really interesting to see you using thicker paint Rima, and especially at that scale. Absolutely love the cards too, I've been looking for a decent printer for some time. I wonder, are you able to share with me who they are?
Very best,

Thomas

gz said...

Macha must be a good inspiration and model for hound drawings...

It is not surprising that you live near a dolmen! Also interesting that you feel comfortable inside it- it is not so for every dolmen. I have stood inside Pentre Ifan, and it feels at times uncomfortable, at others malevolent.

It is good to see the seasons' turn in your writings and drawings- I'm at present in Aotearoa, half a world's turn away.

by Teresa said...

Hi Rima, oh my you are so busy! I would love to spend a few days with you and talk and talk. Thank you, I received the print of the wagon and travelers from you and I will be getting it framed soon. I hope you have a wonderful holiday time. ((hugs)), Teresa :-) (From Oregon, USA)

Velma Bolyard said...

i get such a sense of the quickness of macha, she looks lie she is barely earthbound, unlike those spinsters. beautiful november turning.

Ronnie (RR) said...

Such beautiful photos Rima. Your Christmas card is amazing too.

pRiyA said...

Rima, it is such a treat when you show us how your picture evolves. The completed painting is stunning.
I look forward to posts on your blog always. It is like waiting for the next chapter of a novel to come in the post (albeit virtually). Yours is one of the few blogs with a lot of depth and substance.
Also your pictures of your beautiful surroundings show me where you draw your endless inspiration from. I am so glad to be connected to you through this blog and I wish you the best forever.

Nao said...

Every time I read your blog, I wish I could transport myself to one of your magical evenings of storytelling and merriment. You get up to the best things! Happy fireside days to you and Tom and Macha-from another fireside, a long way away, where another dog runs through green fields and old-growth woodland with wide open delight.

Juli said...

Your posts always touch my heart and warm it so much. I loved getting to see Spinsters Rock, it gives off such a calm feeling.

Trish said...

Gorgeous....

LittleInsect said...

I bought some of your cards last year, but I just can't bring myself to part with them! I show them to people, but don't send them!
Wouldn't the 'fools' painting make a lovely greetings card!

acornmoon said...

Wonderful artwork Rima and good for you for wearing a business hat. I might ask to borrow it myself one day!

Lunar Hine said...

I have an inkling that this shall be a winter for thriving and I see now I am feeling this not just for myself. You are an inspiration and a necessary warmth. Yes! to all you are doing :o).

elizabeth said...

A magical wonderful post, Rima.
Love the dog, love the winter painting.

Jelley said...

Would love to join your night of misrule but we are just that little bit too far away...Have a wonderful time!

Aoife.Troxel said...

Your posts make me want to write poetry.

Anna said...

Rima, I always think November is a very under-appreciated time of year. It has a very between worlds feel to it in Virginia. Autumn's magnificent party has left and there are its remains, visible, and yet winter has not quite set up shop. Dartmoor looks so beautiful. I would love to visit it someday with all my daughters.
Peaceful advent,

Anna

Vicki said...

Ahhh, the jester is my favourite character! He features alot in my own art. I guess because I was always the misfit fool at school :)

And, how wonderful to have the ancient Spinster's Rock so near to your home. Such ancient energy must emanate!

Frost-fringed Macha is truly delightful! :)

Breenee said...

Rima,
may I include your beautiful Feast of Fools on my research/art blog about Medieval Inversion Festivals? You can find it at http://topsyturv.blogspot.com
Cheers and love the beautiful work, as always!