Saturday 28 March 2009

Tiny corners of our home in sunlight after rain


There are crisscross shadows on the curtains

The kettle is always on

Green light shines through old wine bottles full of olive oil

And the strings of strange instruments shiver

The sun shines and so the oil lamp waits unlit

Paper plants tremble in the window

And pegs hang thinking about holding up washing

The porthole is a moon

There's dust on the dice

And in the oil paint

Once upon a times hide in unexpected places

And small wire horses gallop across window ledges

Two knarled fellows crouch and grimace at one another

The sun paints colours of India here and there

And wooden eggs nest on string

Birdsong hangs silhouetted

And the sun after rain shines on through our windows

Sunday 22 March 2009

Tales of third eyes, injector pipes, duck eggs, childrens' drawings, and some other lovely things...

THIS IS A SNIPPET OF A JUST BEGUN PAINTING of a white-haired owl-riding lady pointing at a place on her forehead where some believe we have a third eye for seeing Other Things. She has been taking shape in between a rather patchworky few days, and is the sixth painting in the chakra series. I don't know if third eyes are meant to foresee things, but if they are, I wonder if her third eye foresaw that we would be hobbling along the road with a leaking injector pipe just the day after having escaped from our two week sojourn in the garage. We have spent rather a scary amount of hundreds on the recent works that have been administered underneath our house... and had just enough left to afford diesel for a trip to Ikea to stock up on frames for the next weekend selling... and we drove along the road yippeeing to each other that we were free of the industrial estate and actually driving along again.

The joy was short-lived however as on the journey home there followed stalling and horrendous smoking of exhaust and juddering aplenty. We somehow managed to hobble back to our forest spot, Tui expertly manoeuvring our house down the narrow dark country lanes without letting his foot off the accelerator as it would stall if he did. A late night look under the engine hood revealed an engine covered in leaked diesel from a tiny crack in the injector pipe... this had probably been egged on by the recent fossickings under there, and is hopefully not actually such a major disaster as we had thought, we'll just need to get a new pipe made.. and these woods are the most best of all places to be stranded! We'll have a perfect excuse should the council decide to come down and point out the no overnight parking sign to us.

In recent days we have enjoyed a lovely lunch with my family who visited and brought post that had been accumulating on their doormat for me. A house that moves has no address obviously and so for certain things I have been using mum and dad's whist we are about. We also use the Poste Restante service offered (not always smilingly) at post offices. Anyhow, I had parcels from lovely blog readers across the ocean.. and I was delighted first of all by these wonderful drawings of a driving house (with rather apt exhaust cloud!) and one of Baba Yaga's house by the talented children of Anthromama to whom I send big thanks for posting me these delightful works. Also parceled up beautifully was a box of "Rotating Fez Magical Harissa Spice Mix" and a wooden figurine along with kind and interesting words from Joseph Yarrow whose wonderful medieval-slavic-hermetic-norse tale The Goose Grail I urge you to investigate. I was also excited to receive a recently ordered book A Year At My Back Door by my blog friend Ciara, whose beautiful photographs of her view of the Sugar Loaf mountain in Wicklow Ireland through the changing year have been put together in a very lovely little book indeed.

Tui, in between stoically chopping wood for the fire, has been quietly preparing for April when his much awaited and very beautiful second Orla Wren album will be offered to the world. We excitedly peeped in WHSmiths at the latest copy of The Wire magazine where there is this month a fine looking and enticing advert for The One Two Bird And The Half Horse with spidery drawings by me. Soon I shall be telling you more about this wonderful work and showing you animations and films...

Right now, we are parked in this lovely wood where owls hoot by night and woodpeckers peck by day. We have had such happy days amongst the trees and it almost doesn't matter that we chugged here. People have been so friendly, and we have even been brought freshly laid duck eggs (thank you Sue!) which we had on toast and which were of the delicateist duck egg blue you've ever seen. And today, Sunday, the busiest day here, we decided after being asked if we wanted to sell a painting by a friendly visitor, to set up a gallery-in-the-woods on the side of our truck. It attracted interested browsers and two much appreciated sales...

So there you have it.. our patchwork of news for these last few days. Some days are wonderful, some days are stressful... much like anyone else's life really. But we are happily living the life we've chosen. Many people tell us we are brave, but we are not really. We have the same fears and dreams that all folk have.. and sometimes we fly and sometimes we sink. The important thing for me I think is that I am not imagining some other time when I might do this thing I dream of. I'm doing it now, and for all its hooting owls and cracked injector pipes, it is beautiful.
We plan to stay in the woods for a while and then providing there are no more mechanical disasters we will begin to head up to East Anglia where I will be taking part in an exhibition, and where our patchwork journey will continue....

Tuesday 17 March 2009

The Avocado Tree Clock

whilst tending to their flock

two shepherd girls came upon a tree.

Its fruits were blackish green

with a crocodileish sheen

and their baskets were as empty as can be.
So with shepherdess bravado

they picked an avocado
that was growing just behind the number three,

then in the yellow air

this fruit collecting pair

ate twenty avocados for their tea.

And with this silly rhyme, I present Once Upon O'Clock number seven. There has been a too-long gap between the previous one and this, but, well, what with moving into a house on wheels and one thing and another, the months have passed clockless. The waiting list is ticking away there, at the back of my mind .. and I long to have more hours in the days. This particular creation is for a second cousin of mine who lives in New Zealand. She placed an order way back in the beginning of my clockmaking days for three clocks, and has been exceedingly patient about the wait!
This one is a gift from her to her friend and ex-husband who grows avocados in Kenya.

It is a yellowish brownish greenish creation, with two women gathering the fruit in baskets. I don't really know what avocado trees look like, but mine had to be round for the clock face and I think I was slightly inspired by the colours in a lovely film we saw recently called Lemon Tree. It told the tale of a Palestinian widow trying to protect her lemon grove from the Israeli defense minister who wanted the trees cut down. Actually looking now at the website.. I see a similar tree motif there, which I had not seen when painting this clock!
Anyhow, it is nice to continue my clockmaking. I feel so busy with lots of lovely little jobs and lovely big jobs to fit in around the ever growing clock list...
And I shall not moan on about the fact that we are still living outside the blimmin' garage. I shall keep painting, and cross fingers for being gone from here in a day or two. Meanwhile perhaps I will eat an avocado, cut in half with a little lemon juice and a tiny pinch of salt....

Tuesday 10 March 2009


TREES. I love them. Especially when they are next to other trees.
Standing in a forest feels like being stood over kindly by a huddle of gentle mossy old men.
We love to park our house best near to trees too... and so we have. But not today.

Today I write from the antithesis of a forest clearing... our house is parked in an industrial estate, outside a diesel garage who are trying to fix the radiator. We thought it was just a small hole to mend, but after hours of wrestling the radiator out, its copper innards were revealed to have turned to paper, after 30 years of radiating.. and so it needs to be sent away and refurbished. Meanwhile we must stay here. We have hung all the curtains and are trying to pretend we are still in that forest clearing, so I shall tell you about our days with trees instead...

The photographs above were taken in a lovely forest park which we discovered on a walk back when we were in the orchard... there is of course a no overnight parking sign there too.. but we thought to try it for a night. And it was delightful. The most lovely day greeted us on waking and the birds sung their tiny songs for us all day, while I painted a tree on a clock (with trees out the window!) and Tui stained picture frames for the weekend ahead. We put up our sign again, and though it was not busy, a fair few walkers and dogs came past and chatted. We felt welcomed... the back door was open in the balmy weather and folks I think felt more able to come and peek... There was an art group visiting the woods who stopped to chat and tell us about a summer exhibition they were planning amongst the trees. Even the park warden was friendly, though he had to "log" our number plate in his daily council report, since we had spent the night there. We ate dinner on the logs outside in the evening and collected twigs for kindling before heading off to town for the next day's selling.

Back at the park and ride, which had been our home for a few weeks previously, we met some friendly fellow vehicle dwellers who became our neighbours for a while... Tracy and Troy are a mother and son living in their camper van and we have enjoyed saying good mornings to them by the water tap as their little dog races about happily. Tracy has begun a blog and I gave 9 year old Troy a drawing lesson in the back of our truck one day. He is home educated and a keen artist ... we had fun learning the proportions and structure of a face. They came with us on a wood hunting expedition too, tramping along the secret track that takes you from carpark to woodland ... and we brought back bagfuls of logs from a disintegrating forest walkway, made at some previous time by unknown passers by.

In the chinks between all the ups and downs and ins and outs of our life these last couple of weeks, I have painted and drawn and I have written more pages of my story, which I am beginning to love. I have sneaked to coffeehouses and curled up in a comfortable corner with headphones on, and managed to create an oasis of space in my head to allow the tale to be woven.
I shall be back here again soon with clock works and new journeys... and hopefully a sparkling new radiator.