Tunes for a Monday Morning

Both tunes today are by singer/songwriter Jeremy Messersmith, from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, with animation by Eric Power. Messersmith has three albums out to date, all available on his website as pay-whatever-you-want downloads.

Above: "A Girl, a Boy, and a Graveyard." (A live performance of the song is here.)

Below: "Organ Donor." Both tunes are from the most recent CD, The Reluctant Graveyard.

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Today's tunes are from First Aid Kit: Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, who sing like angels. (Their songwriting skills aren't too shabby either.)

Above: "When I Grow Up," with a fabulous animation by Rachael Greenfield.

Below: An atmospheric video for "The Lion's Roar."

If you'd to listen to a couple more songs this morning, try "Waltz for Richard," filmed in an alley in Melbourne, Australia, and "Emmylou," performed on Swedish tv. You'll find an interview with Klara and Johanna here, in Rookie Magazine.

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Today's tunes come from Matthew and the Atlas, a British alt-folk group from Aldershot, Hampshire. (Many thanks to Jennifer Ambrose for her recomendation earlier this year; I'm now deeply in love with this band.)

Above: "Within the Rose," a magical video featuring paper-cut animation by Neil Coxhill.

Below: A live performance of the beautiful song "Come Out of the Woods."

Want more? Have a listen to "I Followed Fires" and "Fisherman's Wife." A free download of the latter (in exchange for joining their mailing list) is available here.

Tune for a Monday Morning

Today's tune  is "Love is Making its Way Back Home" by Josh Ritter; the wonderful video is a stop-motion animation (made with over 12,000 pieces of construction paper) by Erez Horovitz, Sam Cohen, and Sarah Graves of Prominent Figures.

I'm actually writing this post on Sunday (it's scheduled for automatic posting tomorrow), because by Monday morning I'll be in London, en route to the airport, then New York City. I love New York, where I lived in my twenties as a young book editor, and where I still have many good friends and colleagues, so I'd normally relish a trip back to Manhattan -- but this particular journey is a daunting one, necessitated by the difficult Life Stuff that my family and I have lately been dealing with. Howard, meanwhile, remains in Devon, looking after the pup and the homefront.

I don't know how long I will be in New York, and I don't know what this blog will be like in the days ahead. The blog, like my creative work, is deeply rooted in my wanderings through the leaves and brambles with Tilly and the rhythms of my quiet rural studio...but now my Country Self must be set aside while an older, sharper part of me, the Urban Self, comes to the fore. The road ahead leads into Uncertainty...which is another name for Mystery, and therefore (I remind myself) not always a terrible thing. I'm uncertain of what the coming weeks will bring; I'm uncertain of how my work will progress or of how this blog will function. I'm uncertain of many things, except for the need to be strong and go forward.

Maya Angelou once wrote: “Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure....Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when what we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative, and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.”

Morning on the hill

And so here is this morning's prayer, offered to the rising sun from the crest of our hill, sweet Tilly perched on the rocks beside me:

May I see every journey, no matter how daunting, as a mythic adventure, a quest, a story unfolding, a fairy tale in which even the smallest of heroes finds her way through danger and the dark of the forest...and faces down dragons...and wins love or treasure...and then goes safely home once again.

Tilly, February 2012


Today's tune goes out to Howard.

I love this...

Above: a Google Street View stop motion animation short, created & directed by Tom Jenkins (of The Theory Films), with music by Cinematic Orchestra. (via Elizabeth Hand)

The story: A lonely desk toy in New York City longs for escape from the dark confines of the office, so he takes a cross-country road trip all the way to the Pacific Coast in the only way he can – using a toy car and Google Maps Street View.

"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."
- Mary Oliver (from her poem Wild Geese." Not only is it one of the Best Poems Ever, but these lines seem strangely appropriate for the poignant little film above.)

Sniffles, art, elephants...and a Monday Tune

Today's tune, recommended by my friend Helen Mason (a designer and ex-dancer in London) is "The Thought of You" by The Weepies(from California), with a beautiful and heart-breaking animation by graphic artist  Ryan Woodward. Go here if you'd like to learn a little more about how the video was made.

I'm back in the office, in a shaky and slow kind of way, and not yet entirely over the flu...but there's no sick pay for the self-employed so I'm back to work anyway (ah, the glamorous writing life) -- armed with tissues, ginger-and-lemon tea, paracetamal, and a trusty hot water bottle. Somehow in-between coughs and wheezes the mail will get answered and Work Will Get Done.

Didier Graffet

I have a few recommendations to pass on this morning:

Didier GraffetFirst, there's a fascinating interview with the French illustrator Didier Graffet over on Howard's John Barleycorn blog this week. It's part of the "Around the table with...." series of chats that Howard and his comics-partner, Rex, are running every third Friday. The table in question is our kitchen as you read the interview, imagine the smells of woodsmoke, croissants, Devon blackberry jam, milky English tea and strong Italian coffee...with Tilly lying under the table looking up at Didier in adoration. (She definitely had a little canine crush.)

Didier is one of the most highly regarded book illustrators in France today; and a visit to his website will quickly show you why. He's perhaps best known for his Jules Verne art, which ranges from paintings and drawings to a model of The Nautilus (Captain Nemo's submarine), the plans for which are pictured below. Didier stayed with us in early December, braving the icy Dartmoor weather to attend the opening of the "Sir Lanval" exhibition, to which he'd contributed beautiful work. If you'd like to see more of Didier's art, it's been collected into a handsome volume titled Mondes et Voyages -- available here through Amazon France, and well worth tracking down.

Nautilus plan by Didier Graffet

Leaf ring by Miriam Boy Second, my good friend Miriam Boy, a jewellery designer here on Dartmoor,  has a lovely new website up which she's calling silverandmoor. You may remember the picture of Miriam's atmospheric workshop  from the "On Your Desk" photo series last month. Her jewellery is gorgeous, and she takes commissions, so please go over and have a look.

And here's one last recommendaton for you, tied in with the mention of Jules Verne above : "The Sultan's Elephant" (below), a little film I first learned about from my friend Danielle Barlow. Those of you who follow Danielle's rich treasury of a blog, Notes from the Rookery, will have seen this one already...but nevermind, it's an astonishing video and worth watching again.

Created by the Royal de Luxe street theatre company of France, "La visite du sultan des Indes sur son éléphant à voyager dans le temps" ("Visit From The Sultan Of The Indies On His Time-Travelling Elephant") was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of Jules Vernes' death. The elephant debuted in Nantes and Amiens in 2005, then traveled to various locations around the world. In the film below, the elephant and his companion take a stroll through London back in 2006. (How in the world did I miss it at the time?) Magical art like this fills the world with wonder, and just makes me glad to be alive.

You can find more pictures and more information on the Royal de Luxe website, and on the Sultan's Elephant in London website. Also check out the Machines of the Ilse of Nantes website for more cool stuff. They just do these things better in France.

Miwa Matreyek in Motion



Above: A Miwa Matreyek performance in Oxford, filmed for the TED Talks series. It's a beautiful piece -- and becomes truly amazing about one third of the way in, so stick with it.

Here's the description: "Miwa Matreyek creates performances where real shapes and virtual images trade places, amid layers of animation, video and live bodies. Using animation, projections and her own moving shadow, Miwa Matreyek performs a gorgeous, meditative piece about inner and outer discovery. With music from Anna Oxygen, Mirah, Caroline Lufkin and Mileece."

The link comes from William Todd-Jones (thanks, Todd!), who creates this kind of cutting-edge performance work himself ("The Virtual Cellist," for example) and ought to have a TED Talk of his own. Are there any TED execs out there listening...?

I love the gorgeous, thought-provoking animation above, about the power of the written word and the media environment we live in. It's by my friend Carmen Bromfield Mason, who is currently a student at the Chelsea College of Art & Design in London.

For the shorter piece below, the students were ask to record a small child explaining how something works and then to animate the explanation. Carmen asked 7-year-old Ely Todd-Jones (who is the daughter of puppeteer William Todd-Jones, and my god-daughter) to explain what color is.... The explanation is priceless, and the animation is charming. 

You can see more of Carmen's work here.

Also, please note that an update has been added to the Ravens in the Library post (January 6th), below.