Friday 25 February 2011

The Gate at the Edge of The Village

UP ON THE HILL we climbed yesterday, you could smell sun on the low morning air and see specks of buzzards fly far below. Our lungs and hearts stretched and filled with the day, we drank a thermos of tea and looked down over the roofs of the houses of our village. Small as a train set, arranged at the foot of these two hills like the imagined place of a child's game, set out on the green patchwork carpet of Devon in their nursery.

There's been a conversation crackling the airwaves lately, about blogging and the mysterious interconnectedness of it, why we do it and how it inspires.. et cetera. It all began with questions brought up in an interview I did recently. I am the latest to be invited Around The Table With Howard and Rex - the duo behind the emerging graphic novel John Barleycorn Must Die. Howard Gayton, its writer, is the husband of Terri Windling; and Rex van Ryn, its artist.. well, I'd best not shed any light on this shady character... I leave you to investigate further yourselves.

This was the first time I'd been interviewed face to face like this, and it was mighty interesting as a process, especially since the discussion was with people working in the arts themselves.
Part One was posted last week and Part Two is up today. Reading back over what I said has the slight awkwardness of hearing my own voice on the answer machine, and at times I think I made more sense in speaking than I do in text. Nevertheless we touch upon some delicious topics, like inspiration and tricksters, being true to your art, and the nuts and bolts of the creative process, which is what they have been exploring in all the Round The Table With interviews so far. Do go and read, there's even music from some Imaginary Gypsies...

So from here a baton was taken and quite a team has grasped it and run on. So far with varied and fascinating reflections on blogging, there's been musing going on at: Terri Windling's Drawing Board, A Mermaid in the Attic, Ravenwood Forest, Theodora Goss' blog, Lunar Hine's blog, Midori Snyder's In the Labyrinth, and Erzebet Yellowboy's blog. In fact Tom and I even continued the conversation on blogging with Terri and the dogs on top of the other hill overlooking our village the other day:

What a strange and cumbersome word that is - blog - but I like where it came from: a web log, like a ship's log, you can perhaps imagine us all pegging our log entries onto a huge web for the general perusal of spiders everywhere.
The friends above all give their reasons for blogging, which touch upon connection, friendship, and the sharing of delights. Once this Hermitage was mentioned as an example of artisan blogging, a term I liked very much. It has become a vital part of the work of so many self employed artists and craftspeople, and as I say in my interview, I would not now be lucky enough to spend my days painting for a living without it. But I am amazed at how blogging is still catching on, and gathering new enthusiasts daily, I thought I was late to the party when my talented friend Gretel Parker urged me to begin a blog some years ago. (I am continuously thankful to her for this!)

But, the other themes that seemed prevalent to me across the On Blogging posts mentioned above were those of time and boundaries. How near to your garden gate do you allow your followers? How much time can you give to this? Can your blog act as a sort of butler to answer your door - an intermediary between your studio and the world?

I find myself like a child in a sweetshop with a great long list of visually inspiring and well written posts popping up in my reader daily. But in my topsy turvy way, this frequency and abundance is also terrifying to me. Soon enough I tune out and find the never-ending stream overwhelms me. I put an awful lot of energy into the posts I make here, and they are fewer and farther between than most folks'. I am continuously amazed at the apparent productivity of the artists whose doings I follow, and the fact that they can also find time to write about it all.

I think the internet is a truly wonderful thing - a knowledge disseminator, a connector of like minds, a democratizer, a mind expander... but we must handle it carefully. It is easy to become lost in its forests and, most unappealingly I find, become dulled with the brain-fug of too much choice. I would like to find a simple path through this wood, where we do not forget the feeling of damp earth under our feet, and the breath of things that do not contain a silicon chip.

The wonderful and appreciative things you all say here and on email really do make me smile, your words encourage me and remind me that I am apparently tending a good garden here. Thank you. I love too that many of you settle down with a cup of tea with my posts. I am flattered and delighted at that quiet appreciation.

For those of you with a whole pot of tea beside you, I have written before on similar but different threads: Vagabond Villages & Transient Towns (from my travelling days), and ...Considerations on Artistic Conversation.

This little blog-torch-passing phenomenon has been described as A Moveable Feast, an Imagined Village.
The minuscule village scattered below us yesterday is just that - an imagined and manifested community of wonderful artistic folk, amongst whom I am lucky to live. But I think too on the transience, the moveability of our arts.. the way the inspiration is passed along from one to the next to the next and back round again. We are all travelling and standing still, looking down from the hilltop. Artists as gatekeepers, we are, oiling the hinges of the gate to that Other Place...

Look, there in the distance - the beginning of Dartmoor - the wild expanse beyond.


gz said...

Artisan blogging is an interesting description, and rings true.

The internet is a useful tool, but we must remember that it is just that and not let it detract from our work.

It is good to see your hills-I cant see mine for rain and I feel lost without them

Valerianna said...

Great post, Rima, and I agree, we need to find our way through the online forest with a good balance of also finding the moss under our toes as well! It can be overwhelming with such inspiration all around. I, too spend quite a time writing posts, and do so about once a week, if all goes well.

I love "artisan blogging" as well... and thanks for being MY inspiration for starting a blog.... blessings from RavenWood - and a magical musical offering over at John Barleycorn. The interview #2 was great.

Julia Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing your hills, I also look out on hills and mountains from my studio window and grately appreciate the "window of the internet" to connect with other aritst- no matte where they live!

Heather said...

Another wonderful post Rima - a quality post now and then is better than a more frequent inferior one. Your pictures of the Devon countryside are so beautiful and I love that outcrop of rocks in the last photo. I have been blogging for about 18mths and have 'met' so many lovely people on our truly worldwide web - it is very time consuming though. I enjoyed reading the interviews - thankyou for posting them.

mythopolis said...

My notes on 'what it is'

It is the time the sun shines
On your mouth.
That period of sunrise and sunset
In the slow blink of your eye.
The time it takes
The earth to revolve once
On its axis.
Midnight to midnight
On a hotel bed.
The naked lunch
Of noon to noon
On some celestial body.
Something other
than heaven or hell.

It is that active principle
Of burning.
That brilliant display
Of heat
And the light of combustion.
It is torture,
trail, and tribulation -
A feverish condition
No colorless
Transparent liquid
Falling from the clouds
Can cool.
It is the transparency,
It is the luster
Of such.

It is all the people here.
It is the ground.
The land.
The country.
It is the soft,
Crumbly substance
Of the human body.
The human concerns.
The worldly matters.
The hole
Of a burrowing animal.
The opportunity.
The era.
The life.
The time.
The turning on an axis
Without thought
Or provision
For the future.

Terri Windling said...

Beautifully said, Rima, and I love your cautionary words about boundaries, gatekeepers, and not getting lost in the internet forest. Wise words indeed.

Alice said...

I enjoyed this post very much, Rima... I often find myself getting lost within this crazy online world. Sometimes I get weary and need to take refuge in a woodland hut to realign myself with that which lives immediately around me, that which I can reach out and touch. I don't know the answers, just that I too think the internet is a wonderful thing, but that it most certainly should be handled with care. What a wonderful inspiring part of the world you live in :-)

Ms. said...

My eyes are weary from screen light
they want starlight, moonlight, sunlight, insight and dream nights.

WOL said...

You have inspired me to open a second blog as a creative outlet, WOLs Poetry Place as a "gallery" in which to hang these photopoem things I do.

A big thank you to you and Terry and Jackie Morris and Mermaid in the Attic for sharing your "art-thought-processes" on the web. In a way, it "demystifies" what an artist is, shows us they are real people just like us, who have somehow found the courage/drive to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.

I love visiting your blog. It's like stepping into an enchanted place. The infrequency of your posts is a plus as far as I'm concerned. It keeps your special place from becoming too familiar. Keeps it wild and magical. Thanks for your "view from the hill."

I found Terry the artist first (through Charles de Lint), and just recently I found Terry the person through you. Twice met is twice blessed. Au revoir.

Velma Bolyard said...

well thought, rima, thankyou. i appreciate your commitment, evident in the care with which you tell your story. i may also say that the boundaries are important, and we all have different comfort bounds. i like *artisan blogging*. i think i might be one. or maybe a crone in training. or both.

Unknown said...

Dartmoor looking heavenly...

Love the idea of artisan blogging. As you say, blogging is an art, not least getting the balance right between letting people into one's life, and keeping them out. As ever, you manage it with aplomb xxx

Heron said...

'... the gate to that other place'
Thank you for opening it a notch so i could slip through.

Yoli said...

Rima you live with so much beauty around you. It must impart on your beautiful mind and give it flight.

bhán said...

I am very grateful for blogs, because, for me, art is such a solitary pursuit. I love seeing the wonderful things other people are creating, and reading what they think about what they are creating.

You are especially talented at blogging, besides your lovely art and writing skills you are very generous with what you share of your self with your readers. I am happy your friend convinced to to keep a blog!

Melissa said...

The internet truly is like a great, wild forest, isn't it? So easy to get lost in, yet so wonderful when one finds the small glades and peaceful glens. That's one of the reasons I love coming here so much... Your blog is one of those quiet places, and I am very glad your friend talked you into keeping it. Thank you for sharing your world with us!

Rochelle B. said...

Your life is beautiful.

Von said...

So much to know, so much to see, so much to create and channel....
Great post as always and much appreciated.

A mermaid in the attic said...

A child in a sweetshop...yes, I know this feeling too. I sometimes feel I need a path of white stones to follow through this marvelous, but sometimes dangerous, forest. It's so easy to wander off the path and find time has dissolved. And often I feel I've got a brief tasting of wonderful things, but just like sweets (or faery glamour), it's instant gratification and leaves no long-term nourishment. So I try to limit the number of blogs I read regularly, returning again and again to the ones I gain something deep and true from. I want to be able to feel the stones crunching underfoot as I walk these paths, lingering here and there to look closely, rather than flitting through and not seeing anything properly, like a holiday package tour, an 'if it's Tuesday this must be Paris' kind of travelling.

Hmmm, I think I have a new blog post bubbling away in the brain cauldron now!

Crafty Green Poet said...

beautiful light in those photos!

I agree totally about needing to find a clear path through the forest of all the blogs that are out there, but sometimes its only by strying from our normal route that we sometimes find the most interesting blogs!

I agree also about not lettingthe internet stop you from spending time outside...

karin said...

A very timely post as I have been talking and writing about blogging on and off a lot recently, both on my own blog and elsewhere. It is interesting for me to reflect on how artists (visual and musicians etc) may use blogs, as you say, as a vital part of their trade. Like your friends, I use blogging for connection, friendship and also stimulation. Like you, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by it, and by the wealth of possibilities on the internet. I regularly read a handful of blogs, mainly from people I have met through blogging, and we comment on each others' reciprocally. I think the role of commenting is undervalued, underused, and not fully understood. I am also concerned that blogging is, while on the one hand opening up possibilities for communication, on another, undermining or devaluing writing in our time.

Ciara Brehony said...

Yes, I'm afraid I have become weary lately. I have become mired and lost my bright green path through the trees, and so my garden has become a little haphazard and bare.
But your words here have reminded me again why I ever blogged in the first place. And though I know this, I do need reminders.
Thank you dearest. A wonderful post, as ever. You inspire and encourage me. Always. C x

A mermaid in the attic said...

I love your artwork and paintings, my Mummy showed them to me. I really like your website and that little house with the kitchen and library and those pictures .

From Maia (The mermaid's daughter)

Joan Tucker said...

I just wrote this before I read your post: Sometimes I think blogging was invented for people like me. I love typefaces, graphics, words, and photographs. I dream in color and create detailed stories. Blogging is like heaven. Write, edit, delete, write, edit, change, print, edit, delete, review, write, share, share, get feedback, write.. damn this is grand. All free, all out there, all fun. The blog world is a a big exuberant, varied, random, uncontrollable tribe of writers, innovators, artists, dreamers who share their reality with anyone who will take the time to read. In the quantum physics sense; we are all dancing particles.
Joan Tucker A Circle of Crows

Anonymous said...

Rima, your blog was the first I ever started reading. And I discovered it in a rather strange and random way. I was bored at work one day (what else is new?) and decided to Google "whimsical clocks" as a way to put some light in that dreary place--and your website came up. It was such a wonderful discovery, and I've been following your life journey ever since. I now read many artisan blogs, and I'm struck by how much talent I've come across because of this new form called "blogging," talent I never would have discovered if it were not for the internet. We're living in such an amazing time when experiences such as yours can be shared around the world in an instant. And thank you so much for sharing. It's been quite an inspiration!

steven said...

rima thanks for this thoughtful and intriguing writing. i have gradually been drawn in the blogs i write to the notion of building a bridge between the analague and digital world, the threads of which are braided with both my inner and outer sense of the world i live in. i'm not an artist, a write, a musician, although i do value those moments when the good fairy opens the door and lets the perfumed creativity you have such abundant access to, to flood me with its kind presence. steven

Anonymous said...

I don't know how to respond to this post, except to say that I always wish there was more time - for it all. (Unless your clocks have magical properties all tangled into their beauty?)

And your photos make me ache for horizons that big. Being in the city is wonderful in so many ways, except that I miss the land.

Emerald Window said...

I'm one of those "cup of Tea" people. I sit to read blogs with my cup and when it's finished, I am for a time too. Long ago, I discovered that it was late in the evening and I had been on the computer all day. Very frightening. Now I spend "aware time" on the computer and keep "mindless time" in the drawer.

Anonymous said...

I would miss you so...and your musings if you ever leave us for the real forest or the sky...I find I have a sigh of relief at each of your postings that Tom is still there...You are my fairy tale girl who has found a prince...

Anonymous said...

I've wandered over here from Terri's blog and John Barleycorn and I find your corner of the web enchanting. I love the Dartmoor landscape photos, and the photo of you and Terri, dark and fair heads together on a bright hilltop.

Your writing style has a special lilt and magic. May your words, paintings, and career flourish.

- Jon in L.A. (a very different world from Dartmoor but on a good day it has its moments of beauty)

Anonymous said...

Stunning... I nearly moved to the Lakes District from Seattle ten years ago, but sensed the time wasn't right. Part of the allure, though, was the hills. Though different near Dartmoor, they revive my longings, and love for that place.

Heidi said...

Once agin, Rima, your words are inspiring, and timely. I've been holding your post in my reader, waiting to read it. One of those "save the best for last" type of things - kind of like settling down with a nice piece of chocolate and a glass of red wine.
But when I read it just now, I had to laugh; it is so in tune with a post I have in draft form right now that addresses blogging and all of the wonderful people giving it life. Most of what I have been reading is very tech savvy, black-on-white; business oriented. Yours is the same subject, but a respite for the eyes... gentle. Organic tech, if you will. And that's what I love about blogging - there is no limit to the variety of subject matter, perspective, or the people you meet.
Thanks for the lovely pictures, too.
Dream on.

Teresa Kasner said...

Hello there! I am visiting you from the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon, USA -- I live in a turn-of-the-century farmhouse on several acres. I'm a life-long artist and absolutely love your blog and arts. You're an inspiration to me. I'm so glad I found you. :-)

Karan said...

I like what you say about the garden gate... there is a safe distance between it and the house, and I believe this is good and necessary. I had the lucky opportunity to meet in real life a few people whose blogs I have been following for years. It was a wonderful encounter: we were strangely familiar to each other, and it turned out that their "internet characters" faithfully and deeply reflected their real ones.

There was one thing we had in common, and I find it reflected in your writing, too: although what we write in our weblogs may be deeply personal, there is a limit. This distinction between the personal and the private seems to me to be essential, and yet there are many in the world wide web who neglect it, who lay open what should be protected from prying eyes and thus make themselves all too vulnerable.

herhimnbryn said...

Great post Lady R. As always you have hit several nails on their heads!

I find I am posting less right now. When the terribly hot weather in Australia allows, my mosaics are taking up my time (actually selling stuff over christmas was a huge moral boost).

I take your point about treating the web world with care and not getting 'lost in it's forest'. It could take up a great deal of time if I let it

Thankyou also for the beautiful pictures of Dartmoor. I am homesick for such rolling landscape...."plotted and pieced" (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Lady Em said...

Rima I haven't read your blog in SO long! I came across your print that my in-laws ordered from you for a Christmas present for me 2 years ago, it is getting a beautiful frame and going in a place of honor. I can't help but study it over and over every time I pick it up! I love where you are living now, so beautiful, and I'm so glad I stopped by! I hope you are doing wonderfully!!!! ~ Em

Sunshineshelle said...

Another reason to blog... you can fall in love ;) Love the post, I weaved my way through the other temptations in the forest & found my rest here via Tanglefrost's recommendation. Inspired ;)

Lisa said...

So beautiful, Rima. What you say here about all the wonder of the internet but also wanting to find a simple path through the wood ... it's on my mind in a very intense way this year or two past.

Pippa said...

So very wonderlust woven as ever lovely Rima.. and those rolling emerald Dartmoor hills just look blissful.. <3 magical magical