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August 2010

The tune for today:

It's a holiday weekend here in Devon, and a beautiful, crisp, autumn-is-coming kind of day. I've come online just long enough to post the video above, and then I'm taking heed of  Stornoway's beautiful song by turning the computer off and heading to the woods, Tilly at my heels....

Stornoway's tune is called "We are the Battery Human." (The title refers to "battery" chickens -- a term for factory farmed chickens that I believe is more widely used here in England than in the US.) These lads come from Oxford, and their first CD, Beachcomber's Windowsill, was released earlier this year. (I posted another song from it back in June.) In the video above, they are playing at New York's Mercury Lounge during their first U.S. tour this summer.

A French/English Mythic Arts Collaboration . . .


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

Trees, Part II

Finding spirited presences in trees has long been part of woodland myth and folkore world wide. Here are other "tree people" images by some of my favorite mythic artists:

Trees by Arthur RackhamIllustrations by Arthur Rackham 


From "The Land of Froud" by Brian Froud

Tree Sculpture by Virginia Lee

"Tree Girl," a mixed-media sculpture by Virginia Lee

"Miss Birch," a drawing by Virginia Lee

"Dryad," a mixed-media sculpture by Beckie Kravetz

"Paper Birds," a painting by Steven Kenny


"Sweet Chestnut," a ceramic sculpture by Fidelma Massey

And one more tree drawing of mine, called "Tree Caps":

Tree Caps