This Sunday, at The Picture House in Exeter:

The Laidley Worm

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I'm still on my "online hiatus" this week, but wanted to pop in briefly to post the flyer above, for the premier of the new fairy tale film by the Chagford Filmmaking Group. We'll all be there (our daughter played the dragon in the film, and Howard's mum worked on costumes)...and perhaps we'll see some of you who live in the West Country at the premier too...?

I'll be back on this blog on Wednesday, May 2nd. In the meantime, a few quick recommendations, if you haven't come across these items already:

New Portrait of Janey Morris; Molly Crabapple's Week in Hell; "Dear Daughter" by Mur Lafferty; "Girls Who Read" by Mark Grist, and Axel, the thatcher's dog.

Tilly sends her regards.

Bluebells3 Click on the picture for a larger version, in which you can see the bluebells....


A French/English Mythic Arts Collaboration . . .

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The past several months have been such a roller coaster, due to personal and family matters, that I've been remiss in telling you about one of the nice things that happened this summer: my trip to Brittany to see the French opening of the "Sir Lanval" exhibition. This exhibition (as you may remember from my previous post on the subject) is part of the Shared Legends Project, a collaboration between the Chagford Filmmaking Group here in Devon (the folks who turned my step-daughter into a dragon last summer) and the Centre de l'Imaginaire Arthurien in Brittany (organized by my friend Claudine Glot, an expert in French myth and folklore).

In the first part of the project, the two groups worked together to make a film of "Sir Lanval," a 12th century lay by Marie de France about a poor Arthurian knight and a beautiful fairy queen. In the second part, artists from (or with strong connections to) Brittany and Dartmoor contributed works inspired by "Sir Lanval" to an exhibition that premiered this summer at the castle pictured above, in the legendary forest of Broceliande.

For the opening, the project organizers brought artists from both sides of the Channel together for five glorious days in Broceliande. We were hosted royally, with storytelling in the woods, trips to mythic sites, a music concert at the Chapel of the Holy Grail, and many other delights.

View from the castle window View from a castle window

Storytelling in Broceliande Harp music and storytelling in the forest

Rider in the Forest  C Riders in the forest and castle courtyard

Chapel of the Holy Grail Tile-work mural in the Chapel of the Holy Grail

The pictures here are from that magical trip: from the castle and forest where we spent our days, and from La Gacilly (a village full of artists, like ours here on Dartmoor) where we spent our nights -- and where Rima Staines (one of the other artists in the exhibition), Tom Hirons, and I got the chance to visit dollmaker Virginie Ropar's enchanting house and studio.

 

La Gacilly 1 The village of La Gacilly (above and below)

Mermaid sign in La Gacilly

La Gacilly 2


The exhibition moves to the Breton city of Rennes this autumn, which is where the finished "Sir Lanval" film will have its French premier. The English film premier and exhibition opening take place in Exeter in December -- which is when it will be our turn to host the French artists in our village at the edge of mythical Dartmoor. It will be a challenge indeed, for our Breton friends have set the bar of hospitality very high!

The Valley of No Return The "Val sans Retour" (Valley of No Return) in Arthurian myth

Breton fieldsBreton fields and farmhouses

 

Sir Lanval

Poster art by two of the painters in the exhibition: Brian Froud (Dartmoor) and Olivier Ledroit (Brittany)


You'll find more pictures of Broceliande and the exhibition over on Rima's blog, The Hermitage (August 7th post, Chapter 3). You can see my contribution to the exhibition in my previous "Sir Lanval" post  --  and here's me under the trees of that deeply mythic forest (below, in a photo taken by a Breton friend), with my hair in my eyes and a book in my hands, as usual....

 

In the Forest of Broceliande

The Fairy Handmaidens

In the Meadow by Terri Windling "In the Meadow," full size: 16 x 20 inches (click on the art to view a larger version)

The collage above is the piece I've contributed to an exhibition that will appear at venues in France and England when "Sir Lanval," a film by the Chagford Filmmaking Group, premiers this autumn. It's all part of the Shared Legends Project, a collaboration between the CFG here in Devon and the Centre de l'Imaginaire Arthurienne in Brittany.

Ten French artists and ten Devon-based artists were asked to contribute works based on "Sir Lanval," a 12th century lay by Marie de France about a poor Arthurian knight and a beautiful fairy queen. I struggled for inspiration at first, for my art these days is a long ways away from Arthurian castles and knights in armor. . . but Elizabeth-Jane Baldry (the film's director) assured me that they weren't looking for illustrations of the film, but rather wanted each artist to interpret the lay and depict fairyland in his or her own personal style. In other words, they'd known they would get a "Windling" and not a "Burne-Jones" or an "Alan Lee" when they asked me. Whew!

In the Meadow detail

I originally sketched out some ideas for paintings, but then my thoughts turned to collage instead. There are many other painters in the show (along with sculptors, dollmakers, and other artists), and I thought perhaps one of my hand-sewn assemblages might be useful in striking a slightly different note. I collect old damaged books of myths and fairy tales as source material for my collages (I wouldn't want to rip up a book otherwise) -- and you can imagine my delight when I found a retelling of "Sir Lanval" in one of them. Perfect! Considering the obscurity of the tale, this felt like a gift from the fairies themselves and made me feel I was on the right track.

IMG_0423I chose the scene in which two fairy handmaidens appear in a meadow, carrying a golden basin and a towel. Later in the tale, we learn that the fairy queen rides with greyhounds, so I put a somewhat comical fairy greyhound in there too. And some bunny girls, because in my version of fairyland there are animal critters who follow in the fairies' wake. The twigs and pressed wildflowers come from the meadow behind my studio. The lace comes from my mother-in-law, a theatrical costume maker, who was busily sewing medieval costumes for the film while I was working on my piece.

Four of my village neighbors have also contributed to the exhibition: Alan Lee, Brian & Wendy Froud, and Rima Staines. You can see a preview of Rima's gorgeous, gorgeous Sir Lanval paintings over on her blog, and read a fascinating post about how she created them. For more information on the show itself, go here. There will be a "Meet the Artist" event in Brittany in July; I'll post more information about that as it becomes available.

Edited to add: Here's a link to the promised post on the Sir Lanval event in Brittany.


Sir Lanval update

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The Chagford Filmmaking Group is wrapping up the filming of Sir Lanval here in Devon this weekend. The film has been shot in both Devon and France as part of the Shared Legend project created in collaboration with the Centre de l'Imaginaire Arthurienne in Brittany. Sir Lanval is based, appropriately enough, on a story by Marie de France (a French poet who lived in England in the late 12th century), directed by Elizabeth-Jane Baldry, with a script by Elizabeth-Jane and Ari Berk. Good luck to everyone involved -- including my stepdaughter, who is catering the film (as well as acting in it), and my mother-in-law, who's working on the costumes. May your energies, and the weather, hold out for two more days!


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For more information, visit the CFG's website, or follow the progress of the film on Facebook, here. The CFG is a nonprofit group that was created to support fairy tale films and involve local kids in the filmaking process. They are always in need of funds, so if you can donate to their Feed a Fairy campaign, the fairies would be grateful indeed.



Chagford Fairy Tale Films

Chagford Fairy Tale Films

"Cherry of Zennor," a film by the Chagford Filmmaking Group (and starring William Todd-Jones' daughter Lillian as Cherry) is now available for purchase on DVD on the CFG's website. Hooray! The video is available only in a PAL format, so American viewers will need a universal video player, or to run it on their computers.

"Peerifool" and "The Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heugh" are current in post-production.


Life in Devon

 

Fairy Tale film
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I love my village. When you move from The Big City to a tiny country town, you'd think life might become just a little dull -- but here in the magical hills of Dartmoor I find myself surrounded by more artists and writers than ever, and there's always something interesting afoot....

 

Dragon I've written before about the Chagford Filmmaking Group, created by Elizabeth-Jane Baldry as a vehicle for creating fairy tale films and for getting local kids involved in the filmmaking process, both in front of and behind the camera. (Their last film was The Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heugh, in which my stepdaughter played the title role.)

Peerifolk-with-ladle Now they've started work on their biggest project yet: a cinematic retelling of "Sir Lanval," a 12th century tale from the writings of Marie de France. It's all part of the "Shared Legend Project," bringing creative artists from Devon and Brittany together for a cross-borders collaboration...with a few of us Yanks thrown in for good measure. I'm particularly excited by this project because so many of my friends from all three countries are involved, including the American mythologist Ari Berk (who has collaborated on the filmscript with Elizabeth-Jane) and the French folklorist Claudine Glot (head of the Centre de l'Imaginaire Arthurien, organizers of the Breton side of the project).

The little video below is a behind-the-scenes look at the very first shoot for the Sir Lanval film, which took place here in Devon over Hallowe'en weekend. If you'd like to know more about the Chagford Filmmaking group, or to see clips from their other fairy tale films, please visit their website -- where you can donate to the group and help them meet their fundraising goals for this and other projects.



Alongside the film's premier, by the way, there will be a Alan Lee maiden sketchtravelling exhibition of Sir-Lanval-inspired art from twenty artists residing in Devon and France. I don't have the complete artist list to hand, but I'm one of them on the Devon side, as are Brian & Wendy Froud, Alan Lee, and Rima Staines. That's scheduled to happen in the autumn of 2010, and I'll post more info (dates, places, etc.) as it becomes available.

 


Magic on Film

Dragon-long You may recall my recent post about The Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heugh, the lastest project from the Chagford Filmmaking Group ("A dragon in the neighborhood," August 26). You can now view some charming photos from the film shoot here, on the CFG's website.

Across the ocean in New York, Lisa Stock (InBytheEye Films) has completed production on Brother and Sister, a short film based on my poem of that title, which was in turn based on the German fairy tale. Keep an eye on the Brother and Sister web page for the upcoming New York screening dates.


A dragon in the neighborhood....

Our daughter Victoria is turned into a dragon for the filming of "The Laidley Worm," the latest project from The Chagford Filmmaking Group. She's pictured below in the film's costume workshop, and on set at Castle Drogo with costume designer Laura Mackrill. The photos come from Laura's film shoot album and appear here with permission.


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"I desired dragons with a profound desire. Of course, I in my timid body did not wish to have them in the neighborhood  . . . .But the world that contained even the imagination
of Fáfnir was richer and more beautiful, at whatever the cost of peril."
-- J.R.R. Tolkien (from his essay "On Fairy-Stories")


Below: the dragon and her dad on the hills above our village.

Laidley Worm