Friday 7 December 2018

New Births on the Edge of Winter

GREETINGS to you all, should you still be here on this quietest of blogs!
This is a small note to you from the depths of my busy creative, mothering days as we descend into another wintering. As you might be able to see in the photo above, taken by Tom recently, I am pregnant with our second child! We await their arrival any day with tender and jubilant expectation. As this year turns into next, we will be four!

Here, I am standing with our son inside a Bronze Age hut circle on Dartmoor, marvelling at the thousands of years that have passed in that place, and wondering about the people who made their hearths inside those stones, who raised their children there on the high moor, who went in and out of those doorways and whose house walls still stand, even in these strange days at the furthest end of now.

And this brings me to tell you about something that I have been thinking on for some time, and which now seems timely to share with you. As you may have noticed, my painting and blogging and general artistic output have been very quiet for the past three or so years since my son was born. I am still wrestling with the challenges and gifts of trying to be an artist and a mother, and this second child coming has caused me to think on this more urgently, and finally to boldly ask for support. In a world where we are connected to community across the world in such a uniquely creative way, and at a point in my artistic life where I feel that in order to keep making work I must call upon the energies of those who have loved what I do for years, I have launched a Patreon, which I invite you to go and read ~ it tells my tale and explains my request.

As I write over there on my Patreon page, the hope with asking for this kind of support is that I will be able to create a regular financial stability underneath my work at a time when it's particularly and uniquely hard to be able to devote focused time to my artwork. If you have enjoyed and been nourished by this blog, my posts, paintings, writing and thoughts over the years, I would be massively grateful if you would consider signing up to be a member of my Patreon community. You will be adding rich black compost on these art-seeds I am planting. This is the place I will be sharing my works in progress, artworks and writing from now on. Those who have signed up will be able to see these, as well as choosing from a variety of other delicious offerings...

I do have a new blog, too, as well as a newsletter, if you'd like to sign up to receive those.

Portrait of Tom and me on Dartmoor, pregnant with our son in 2015 by Ishka Michocka.

And there I leave you, with warmest appreciation for your continued interest in my work and wishes for your wintering to be both restful and enchanted. I shall likely be quiet for a time over these dark hibernatory days while we welcome our newest one into our family, but I hope that with the coming of the new year and a renewed strength grown from this Patreon community, I will be creating more paintings and wonders to share with you, wherever you are...

Wednesday 15 November 2017

A basketful of treasure at Hibernation Time

HUGE SKIES full of light and dark and wintering and wondering crown the granite tors of Dartmoor this November, as the mists creep in; and I return here, nearly a year on from my last post, with apologies again for this quiet, and some small pieces of artwork and news for you.
Much has happened this past year, and in time I may craft some reflections from it all. Our family is well, and our beautiful boy grows and roves and laughs through his third year on earth, stretching our hearts bigger by the day. Soon, I hope to be blogging again, in a fresh new space, but for now - here's tell of the things in my basket at the moment:

The Storyteller - Advent Calendar by Rima Staines - available here

Firstly, here's The Storyteller Advent Calendar - a new creation of mine in watercolour. She - wise old witchwoman, tatooed and furred, sits in a snowbound place, beside a fire, her words and hands weaving magics in the cold air as folk and creatures gather round to hear. What are the stories she is telling? Well, behind the doors, as you open them throughout advent, you'll find objects from many of our favourite folktales. If you can guess all the stories, you could win an A3 signed giclée print of this painting (without the numbers). Here's where you can buy a calendar for yourself - we're very proud of this, and I don't think you'll find an advent calendar like it anywhere else in the world! 
The painting is also available as a print here.

Wolfmother by Rima Staines - available here

Another new piece created on scratchboard this year - Wolfmother - shows a wintery scene of a huge mother wolf nurturing a village, and singing Russian lullabies in the snow...
Не ложися на краю.
Придёт серенький волчок,
Он ухватит за бочок
И утащит во лесок
Под ракитовый кусток.
Ne lozhisya na krayu.
Pridyot serenkiy volchok,
On ukhvatit za bochok
I utashchit vo lesok
Pod rakitovy kustok.
Baby, baby, rock-a-bye
On the edge you mustn't lie
Or the little grey wolf will come
And will nip you on the tum,
Tug you off into the wood
Underneath the willow-root.

This is available as a 7"x5" print in our Hedgespoken Press emporium, in fact all my prints are now available over there instead of etsy. This should make ordering our books, mp3s, posters and advent calendars alongside prints much easier, as well as saving you a bit on postage and packing. (DO go and see the other delights we have there - Tom's widely travelled and loved poem Sometimes A Wild God with illustrations by me is available as a book, a poster and an mp3. And as a thank you to you all for supporting us, you can enter the code WELCOME-TO-HEDGESPOKEN to get 10% off your order until Sunday November 19th 2017! 

And Tatterdemalion - this wondrous collaborative creation of Sylvia Linsteadt's and mine, which you've surely heard about by now is also available there - in the special or trade editions. I urge you to read it if you have not yet - it will change you, undo and redo you; inside it you will root and shatter, mourning and enchanted, wholly othered.

Pages from Sanctum

Sylvia and I have collaborated again recently - in the margins of the latest publication from The Dark Mountain Project. Sanctum is an exquisitely beautiful book about ideas of sacredness from many perspectives. All the artwork has been made on vellum parchment created from the skin of roadkill deer. Sylvia writes about the creation of our marginal earthen-voiced sibylline interjection here

And last but not least, there are two opportunities to see my work this winter - firstly in a joint exhibition at Lowton Farm in mid Devon - CURIO - where I will be sharing a beautiful timber framed barn-gallery space with five other amazing artists. There will be automata from Fi Henshall, ceramic sculpture from Claerwen Gillespie, Printmaking and drawing from Sarah Coomer, metal and wood creations from EC Osborne, and wonders in wood and bark and light and water from Jack Oakley. Do come along if you can. It's on for a week from November 18-26, open every day from 10-3, there's ample parking, and there'll be plenty of tea and homemade cake!

And then at the start of December I'll be joining my old comrades at the Chagford Winter Artisan Fayre - which is always a very lovely event.

I can't believe how the wheel of the turning years finds me here again at this potent dark time, trying to weave together all the threads of my life as we step out on our road - travelling, homing, creating, learning, mothering, partnering, living, loving, changed and yet the same.
Blessings of this hearth-season on you all, too, wherever your roads lead you...

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Correspondence from the far off land of motherhood in a travelling theatre

Dear friends and longtime followers of this blog, which I began nearly a decade ago... It has been very quiet here, and I am sorry: it appears that raising a little one whilst building a travelling theatre is quite time consuming!
I have, however, written over at the Hedgespoken blog about our year just gone, and all the stories therein. Please do go and have a read, there are photos galore and more. And I will write again here, before too long, I hope.
Be well in these strange days, friends afar, I send you warm greetings from the winter hedgerows.

Tuesday 2 February 2016


OVER THE YEARS OF BEING AN ARTIST, I have come to think of and describe my paintings as Waymarkers to the Otherworlds, as gateways, portals, signposts to take you through to those Other places, those worlds just beyond this one: behind, or beside or underneath our every day. There are many ways through, of course, and many different destinations, too, which all depend on the traveller and their particular way of reading the sign. 

As the signmaker, I don't usually have any idea (or control over) where my paintings take people, or what happens when they get there. But four years ago, one traveller to these otherworlds followed my painted signposts and came back with her story. 

Sylvia Linsteadt, as many of you know, is a writer of great talent, who has an incredible ability to conjure the beautiful and uncanny and barely-seen wild worlds which shiver at the periphery of our perception. Four years ago she began writing the stories of the worlds my paintings took her to, and when she sent them to me, I was blown away. Her work is lyrical and profound, folkloric and unique, and for me, these stories were so moving to read - so familiar and yet so new. We knew we had to make a book.

These past years have seen these stories grow and enmesh and they have become what we are calling a post-apocalyptic mosaic folktale. A back-to front book which began with the illustrations, a tale of wheeled and raggedy folk, of edge-dwellers and shape-shifters, itinerants and wild ones, and their imagined futures in a world after the breaking we are currently living through.


A perfect meeting of arts and souls, and a book born of it on this day of new beginnings. Sylvia and I met at last in the flesh last October; she came from her native Northern California (where the book is set), to visit us and stomp the tors and woods and Dartmoor's bronze age relics with us, to share our hearth and breathe these winds for a while. It was a wonderful meeting, which seemed to have happened long ago already.

And while she was here, our book was taken up by a publisher. Unbound is a publisher very suited to this tale: it is liminal and powered by its readers, it is back to front and supportive of the unusual. Which means that this book cannot be without you! To preorder your copy and find your way to this utterly wonderful, strange and necessary Otherworld - bejewelled and ragged, rooted and sung - click on the image below! 
Bring Tatterdemalion into the world!

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!

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Light in the dark belly of winter


IN THE MIST OF MY STUDIO WINDOW ivy has been tracing silhouettes of cathedrals; evergreen hymns to the light in the darkness of winter, in which we are now fully planted. I have sat there at my work table, or at the drawing board, or knelt on the floor, painting ferociously for many many weeks in preparation for A Fourfold Fable - a joint exhibition of Devon-based mythic painting in Exeter, which took place at the beginning of December. Not only have I been busy with the particular creativity and organisation that goes into making an exhibition, but Tom and I have expended a super-human amount of energy birthing Hedgespoken - our long-awaited and long-dreamed plan to create a home and travelling vagabond theatre on our vintage Bedford RL truck. For those who have been following the past momentous two months, you'll be rejoicing with us at our frankly mind-bloggling success and the utterly wonderful throngs of support we have gathered along the way. Steering a successful crowdfunding campaign has been more work than we could ever have imagined, and we are thrilled at the dream that has become tangible thanks to all of our supporters, and equally utterly exhausted; the reality of what has been achieved is only slowly dawning on us through the veils of tiredness. This project will continue to grow over the winter and into spring, and if you'd like to follow the progress, you can do so over at the Hedgespoken blog. So far, our wonder-wagon looks like this:

Not one to allow myself much breathing space, the exhibition opened at the beginning of December just as the crowdfunder was ending!

Together the four of us (Michael Broad, Anna Georghiou, Phil Birdmyself) transformed the little upstairs gallery of the Glorious Art House into a veritable Aladdin's cave of storied paintings...

And in the middle of the room was a tablefull of prints, cards, calendars, books, CDs and other artful goodies.

photo by Anna Georghiou

For the grand opening, which we had on a Sunday morning instead of the standard evening do, we served coffee and croissants to our many enthralled guests...

photo by Michael Broad
photo by Anna Georghiou
photo by Michael Broad
photo by Anna Georghiou
photo by Anna Georghiou
photo by Phil Bird
photo by Anna Georghiou

 The walls rang with magic, as I'm sure you'll agree...

Stories and motifs meandered around the walls in and out of the works of four artists, whom many visitors assumed were just one painter! We mixed our works in the space, creating a myth-rich storybook of colour and tone, and were thoroughly pleased with the result. One visitor suggested we should call ourselves The Fabulists!

We took turns in sitting with the paintings every day for two weeks and in that time met many lovely folks and had lots of fascinating conversations about art and magic and the threads that link them. Thanks to all who came to support us and dwell in our otherworlds for a while.

photo by Rose Tydeman of the Glorious Art House
Many good things have been brewing in the cauldron this winter. What with one thing and another, I've not managed to list all my new works in the shop in time for Christmas, I'm sorry. But be sure to look out in the new year for many new cards and prints and paintings, both here and in the etsy shop, a few of which I'll share with you here below now.
Some of my wintry work is featured (front page, back page and middle page spread, no less!) in this month's most excellently put together Doncopolitan Magazine, which champions Doncaster's growing creative arts and grassroots scenes, and can be got for free in print or online.

The woodburner in my studio has been burning away as I work, as the nights have got longer, and my paintbrushes stragglier.

Those of you who have bought my 2015 calendar this year will have seen this little birch painting on the month of December.

It's a Once Upon O'Clock, painted for Assia Alexandrova in Hollywood, who asked for a Lappish-styled winter goddess... and so I painted this - a reindeer-riding Winter Queen, Mother of the North, holding her baby in a traditional Saami cradle, flying over a sickle moon through a blue icicled and snowflaked winter sky.

Queen of Winter by Rima Staines

As part of my pre-exhibition panting frenzy, I also decided to experiment with a more painterly technique in oils on paper.

This was somewhat out of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed playing with the paint, having made no underdrawing or sketch whatsoever.

The painting grew and changed with each layer of paint.

Under the earth, the land-mother sleeps, her belly swollen with growing seed, with golden light. Over her, a winter landscape lies blanketing the promise below. A band of masked mummers dance through a snow-capped village, bringing their music to wake the sleeping one under the ground.

The Munmmers by Rima Staines
And third and last in this collection of folk-madonnas, this little painting used a piece of wood I found in a skip, already treated with green colour, which I rather liked and so decided not to paint over.

For this one I returned to my more typical thinly-applied oils, and enjoyed the simplicity of the portrait. I had a gilded frame ready for this too, which I had found in a second-hand shop, and which you'll have seen in the exhibition photos above.

As day turned to night, and coffee to tea, I painted on...

The mother and her child emerged, smiling...

Between them something grew. An umbilical understanding, a love profounder than the roots and the stars, an Unfathomable Language.

The Unfathomable Language by Rima Staines
And by now, I am sure you'll have guessed the most important of all my projects brewing over these past months, the inspiration behind these paintings and my fervent creative frenzy, and the reason for my extra layers of tiredness. 
Yes, a wonder beyond words in my belly, precious and unfathomable indeed.
I haven't felt to share very much of this private thread of my life here, and don't know how much I'll want to do so as the little person steps into this roaring beautiful world either, but I wanted to let you know the reason for my quiet here, which I'm afraid will only get louder come February when our lives will be changed forever...
Two thousand and fifteen promises much adventure for us, as both new parenthood and a story-rich and hedge-spoken life on wheels beckon. I look forward to sharing the wonders and the tales with you as we go. Meanwhile, I send warmest greetings to all of you who are mothering golden seeds in the dark earths of your winters, and wish you joyous green sprouting as the light returns.