Tuesday 24 December 2013

Wind, ivy, flame, wing, pipe, dance, shadow, light

WILD WINDS HOWL OUTSIDE and blow sleety rain sideways. Yesterday the fields and lanes around the village here were turned to seas by the torrential weather. Beyond the dark windowpanes our hill is become an island and rivers lash bridges. Inside our cottage-on-the-high-seas, the warm rustles and crackles and colours of Yuletide glow nevertheless. Certain lurchers have the best spot by the woodburner.

Yet again, Christmas eve has come round before I've had a chance to catch my breath. The mad rush of the winter season seems an antithesis to what our bodies yearn for - hearth and home and hibernation, and yet we are caught in it, tripping over our damp bootlaces and dropping scarves and bags as we hurry to the December 25th finish line. 

This has been a busy season for me; I've had stalls at fayres to begin the winter doings, where I met lots of good folks and felt re-nourished by the joy of meeting in the flesh the people who buy and love my work.

Winter has been blessed with gatherings, too. The weekend before last marked a most wonderful melee of Breton and French music and dancing in our village hall. Folks came from counties and countries far and wide to attend this stirring magic of a happening. Our hearts and feet were held captive for hours by the arts of Wod and Red Dog Green Dog who played an array of bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, concertina, accordion and fiddle. What a night!

And because one night of that sort of magic is not enough, we did it all over again in the pub the next day - a session of staggering quality, where French and Breton tunes were joined by Manouche Swing, English Folk, Klezmer and Balkan musics on many beautiful instruments, and even knitting-needle percussion! I had so much fun I was almost late for my own band's gig in another pub down the road!

All through this autumn-into-winter four of us have been meeting every week in a cabin at the edge of the woods to learn the art of puppetry - the realizing of a long-held dream of mine. We've been taught and directed by Howard Gayton, a dramatist and mask and puppet performer of many years' and miles' experience. He has shown us the subtle magic of sending your awareness into an inanimate object to bring it to life, beginning with a humble piece of cloth. Over the weeks, this work developed into a little show with puppetry by Nomi McLeod and Howard and I, a story devised by all four of us, props and puppet (really just a bit of cloth augmented with found objects) made by me, and music by Andy Letcher. Last Friday we had our first five showings to friends - to let them see what we'd been working on these past months - and it was truly magic! (And interestingly I wasn't crippled by nerves.) Thanks to Terri Windling for the photos of us performing.

I must say that I am quite astounded by how happily I've taken to this artform, though I am just a beginner. There is something just right about the particular combination of figure-craft and music and the sending-out-of-spirit, and I skip towards the next developments of this wonderful new bowstring with glee!

My paints have been kept occupied these hibernating months, too, and the latest of my paintings I can show you here. 

It began with a piece of Yew wood, whose shape you might recognise as neighbour to this one.

First I drew with pencil,

and then the paint began...

I finished it in the evenings at home...

This is The Wing Giver, a painting commissioned by Julian, who is my first client to give me no brief whatsoever! He just asked me to make him a painting! At first I was wary - what if he didn't like what I created? But he convinced me in the end that he really did want what came straight from me. So, after asking to hear a few things about Julian and his family to set me on the right inspiration-path, I painted what came, and feel truly grateful for the wings this gave me. I am very happy with the painting that I made given this freedom, and hope Julian and his family will be too - it will wing its way to him after Christmas, as the paint is only just dry.

Our home is warm and greened with boughs. The electricity is intermittent due to the winds and so we sit sometimes by candle and firelight with our busied souls racing to catch us up and join us by the woodburner.

The beautiful-looking book you can see above was a gift from Tom to me - The Night Life of Trees - published by the wonderful Tara Books in India. The stunning illustrations are hand screen printed onto black, and are based on the mythology of the Gond tribe which tells of the magical spirited world of the trees that comes to life once we've gone to sleep.

There is magic happening in the kitchen now as food is prepared, and in the nooks and corners of our home where green men spew ivy and mistletoe, logs reveal their warm and long-kept secrets, and we hunker down under the thatch for our long winter's nap.

I leave you with some chinks of light to guide you across the stormy dark seas out there. First, Lantern by the band Clogs (film by Vincent Moon) - a mesmeric and gentle music:

Second, a tanka from the wonderful collection of tanka poetry Circling Smoke, Scattered Bones by Joy McCall, which is a raw and beautiful sideways glance at the human heart:

if only I could
live in an old light-house
far out to sea
a house with no corners
and always the light, shining out

I wish you all a joyous and wonder-filled Yuletide, chattering with happy hearth-heart-stories, the giving of wings, and much light, shining out. 


zooms said...

Love and Yuletide greetings from Grenada Rima, thank you for everything. for all the magical insights, creativity, delights, love and happiness...long may the joy continue..i cannot imagine not being able to visit, (and be inspired by) you here xxx

trish said...

A wonderful Yule to you beautiful Rima.x

Tiffany D. Davidson said...

Just in time, Rima, the shiniest gift under the tree ~ these writings and images you've shared here. Tight hugs & warmth to you xx Tiff

Monica said...

hearts, hearth, home & joyous yuletide!!!

Reifyn said...

Glad you've got winter there: it's about 18'c and blazing sun where I am. Being a cold-weather person, this doesn't seem quite the thing.
You're fortunate to have some lovely music to listen to: I love all those instruments those bands play.
I too love puppets and have made a number of them over the years. Sometimes wear one in my breast pocket instead of a pocket-square.
All the best.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh, people should always commission your paintings with no instructions. What emerges from your imagination is pure magic.
Wishing you a peaceful, happy, and loving Christmas and a blissful new year.

Teresa Kasner said...

I always love reading your words and stories and pictures as if from another time and surely another place, far from my farmhouse in the Oregon countryside in the Columbia River Gorge.

I'm glad your blog is part of my life - you enrich me and make me feel my English roots - even though I've never been there and may never be.

Regards - Teresa

Mo Crow said...

Oh my , 'The Wing Giver" is true magic Rima !

Velma Bolyard said...

it's christmas morning here in the north country, and i riose early alone in my big old farmhouse to check in the ethers before the day's festivities begin. and i find this beautiful piece about your doings, far across the atlantic, and i am blessed. thank you and happy wishes.

Teleterkji said...

Your paintings are so beautiful.

WOL said...

I confess it. I copied that lovely picture of your cottage and put it in my wallpaper cycler. Now every time it comes up on my screen I will think of you and yours and hope good things are happening where you are. May next year be even better and fuller and happier than this year.

Heather said...

You inhabit a magical world that most of us can't see, but are kind enough to share it with us and open our eyes.
Warmest Seasons Greetings and a very Happy New Year.

Megan said...

Thanks for the gift of this beautiful blog! It has brought me so much inspiration over this past year (and others).
Solstice blessings to you and a happy new year!

Valerianna said...

Oh, so perfect! Puppets and the four of you together as a team, I imagine much magic is in the air!!

Jess said...

Thankyou for sharing your enchanted world with us! I feel transported by the beauty of the painting, the music and the lovely warm images of your cosy home.
I wish you a puppet, paint, love and musical filled new year!
Jess xx

amy bogard said...

Hi Rima!!! What a beautiful post! So wonderful you have entered into the magical world of puppetry with your weekly lessons 'at the cabin at the edge of the woods'. I did much the same when I was learning to work the marionettes. Keep the stories coming! I just love the peek into your beautiful take on the world. ~amy

Priya Sebastian said...

The Wing Giver is such a strange and beautiful painting. The concept is enchanting and the details are exquisite.

Barb Cady said...

A wonderful post, rich with Yuletide meanings. I love the painting and your puppetry is inspiring even through photographs. Many rich blessings to you for the season. I can't wait to put your calendar up! X

Dragan said...

Rima, you are looking very well in your photos! Very happy and healthy. I hope it continues into the new year!

rosierabbit said...

the night life of trees! one of my all time favourites, i boughht it in india years ago, recently acquired a beautiful tattoo based on those shining magic trees, and gave a gift copy to my incredible tattoo artist friend. so strange to see it here! tell tom he has excellent taste. all the tara books are treasures. happy winter to you both from this antipodean new year of high tide river swims, afternoon storms and cicada song that hurts your ears with its enthusiasm x rosie

rossichka said...

Dear Rima, should I say what a pleasure it was for me to read this post? A nice surprise to see you on puppet stage, inspired, concentrated and involved in the story (as all the rest)! Maybe I can find more details in the photos, because puppet theatre is my job, my life, my never ceasing inspiration and love. I noticed that you've thought of everything: the black gloves, the waiting actors - backstage, "invisible" for the audience, the way to "catch" it from the first steps to the theatre space...
I’ve soon come back from Kenya, where for a third winter I was training young artists in puppetry in order to use this art in their future work with children at risk. (I have posted a series of “African journals”, if you are interested). This year I payed special attention to the manipulation of puppets in collaboration with others (by two and three puppeteers!) – I see you know what that means!:)
I believe it's a nice performance and wish you to continue doing this, because puppet theatre gives a rich variety of means to express yourself and the themes that are important for you!
An interesting post with lovely photos and beautiful paintings - as always! Thank you! Happy New Year, full of health, love, inspiration and new creative ideas!

Karan said...

Have a wonderful new year, filled with pleasant surprises and enriching adventures! Best wishes from Germany! :-)

femminismo said...

Wonderful holiday photos. Adore your new painting on the "slice" of wood!

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

All that weather and music and the essence of Christmas - wonderful. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones from Mid summer days across the World.

Conversations with the Muses said...

Hello Rima,
I have only written once before in concern for your long absence. You were in a major life change and had been gone from your blog for quite a while. I too have been in a major life change through the past two years and I want you to know that your blog has been and I imagine will always be a continuous source of inspiration for me. You live your creative, loving life in a magical way, connecting with nature, and the beautiful experiences that make our journey so precious and enchanted. I am truly in the birth cannel of my new being... you help to remind me of why I am going through all the pain and challenges. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish you and your beloved Tom and Macha all the beauty, love, prosperity and rich experiences that life can possibly bring. Thank you for making your journey public, it helps this life wanderer more than I can express!
Much love,

Anonymous said...

Dear Rima, a very happy Yuletide to you and Tom! I hope that 2014 brings you many good things, and that your trip to New Zealand is truly wonderful.

Your new painting is exquisite and very fitting for the turn of the year.

I never comment here but I love to read your web-log, a spark of magic and kindness in the world. While I can't live as you do, I can enjoy reading about your life and seeing your beautiful creations. I was so pleased with the calendar and print I ordered from you - while they looked lovely on the computer screen, it's nothing to how they are in reality. Thank you!

Lunar Hine said...

When we stayed as Macha's lady companions, we LOVED The Secret Life of Trees. It called from the shelf and we looked and looked again and I read the printed stories and Pickle told me other stories of the tree prints. Beautiful.