Gracious Acceptance
Between the storms: meditation in a wet winter woodland

Secret Threads

Mr. Finch, textile artist

Mr. Wolf by Mr. Finch

"You may have noticed," wrote  C.S. Lewis, "that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that.

"Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw -- but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.

Old granny by Mr. Finch

Moth collection by Mr. Finch

Moth Pulling a Tiny Coach by Mr Finch

Mushrooms and moths by Mr. Finch

"Even in your hobbies," Lewis asks, "has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of -- something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat's side? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?

"You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it -- tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest -- if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself -- you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say, 'Here at last is the thing I was made for.' "

Hares with sprouting bulbs by Mr. Finch

Mice and Dark Grey Mushrooms by Mr Finch

This, to me, is what fantasy literature (and mythic arts) does best: it tugs on those secret threads, evokes bright worlds half-glimpsed at the corner of our eyes...where the heart's desire lies just ahead, but always just ahead, beyond the next turn of the page.

Dream Fox by Mr Finch

Hares in Embrace & Weeping Hare With Tiny Glass Tears by Mr Finch

Felinka Mouse by Mr. Finch

The gorgeous soft sculpturers here are by Mr. Finch, a textile artist in Leeds, near the Yorkshire Dales, with a name straight out of a fairy tale.

"My main inspirations come from nature," he writes. "Flowers, insects and birds really fascinate me with their amazing life cycles and extraordinary nests and behaviour. British folklore is also so beautifully rich in fabulous stories and warnings and never ceases to be at the heart of what I make. Shape shifting witches, moon gazing hares and a smartly dressed devil ready to invite you to stray from the path. Humanizing animals with shoes and clothes is something I’ve always done and I imagine them to come alive at night. Getting dressed and helping an elderly shoemaker or the tired housewife.

Kneeling hare and small weeping wolf by Mr. Finch

Textile Hares by Mr Finch

Magical creatures by Mr. Finch

"Most of my pieces use recycled materials, not only as an ethical statement, but I believe they add more authenticity and charm. A story sewn in, woven in. Velvet curtains from an old hotel, a threadbare wedding dress and a vintage apron become birds and beasts, looking for new owners and adventures to have. Storytelling creatures for people who are also a little lost, found and forgotten…."

Visit Mr. Finch's website and blog to see more of his wondrous work. I love it deeply.

Soft Sculpture Snails by Mr Finch

Sprouting Textile Bulbs by Mr Finch

Textile Bird Collection by Mr Finch

Sleeping Fox by Mr Finch

Please forgive me for running two archive posts in a row, but the C.S. Lewis quote in Tuesday's offering made me think of this lovely passage by Lewis; and the art of Mr. Finch is always worth a re-visit. I added a few more pictures below, so the post isn't entirely old. The passage above is from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis, published in The Centenary Press' "Christian Challenge" series in 1940. I first read it for a class on Lewis  way back in my university days (as a non-Christian, it's not a book I would have been likely to pick up myself), and though it is indeed quite theological, it contains interesting passages on a number of other subjects too. In class, we read it in conjunction with Lewis' Grief Observed, about the death of his wife, which was a fascinating pairing. All rights to the text and art above reserved by the C.S. Lewis estate and Mr. Finch.

Comments

Hi Terri, I bought Mr Finch's wonderful book 'Living in a Fairytale World' several months ago and it has swiftly become one of my favourite havens of escape! Halloween lives between its pages breathing out the same wonderful miasma of delicious morbidity and shivery delight. When I leaf through the photographs of sleeping foxes, upholstered moths and creepy spiders I'm a child once again reading ghost stories under the bedsheets with a torch in the dead of night. Wonderful!

how long have I loved the fabulous Mr. Finch!

Thank you for sharing Terri. I love Mr. Finch!

I am a HUGE fan of Mr. Finch. His pieces are stories in their own right. The way he recycles materials made me think about fairy tales and the elements of stories that keep finding new life. My own work is heavily influenced by wonder tales, especially stories written by kindred spirits. Thank you for this moment of reflection, Terri. It was a good way to start my day.

Velveteen Allies
by Carina Bissett

Weave me a web of friendship and love,
secrets summoned through a needle’s eye,
stitches threaded from cobweb wishes,
and I will return with new designs
to complement your patterns and style
binding the network of common myths,
elegant strings of human desire.

Despite what you’ve heard about spindles,
the hidden ways wind through warp and weft,
inspiration shuttled between frames
bound by hand, an interactive stage
piled with the textured intensity
of tapestries woven from silk shared,
landscapes braided with tales of wonder.

Weave me a web of new beginnings.
Sit at your loom with your wit and words.
Tell me satin stories on the wing,
colorful tales writ in every shade,
and I will gather the castoff threads
in my basket filled odds and ends,
fibers ready to be pinned again.

Hi Terri

I remember this post and loved it then and now even more, having a second chance to read about " secret threads" and their connectivity to stories we tell, imagine or experience. When I first moved from the countryside of New York State to the high desert of California, I was entering a new place and life. I was unraveling into another story; and one of the first poems I wrote, was about the window of our house and sewing. I was mending my new husband's dress shirts with dark thread and an old jar of buttons I found in the dresser drawer. And though these garments belonged to his past, I was also stitching part of myself into the texture, into part of his story that existed before and was about to continue into the future. Physically, I connected myself and spiritually as well. And maybe the almond tree that flowered through the window (with the same vivid spirit found in van Gogh's painting of the same subject) was a sign of this beginning, this burgeoning chapter in my life that stemmed from needle and thread, a few buttons and shirts, and the art of sewing. The art of reflection, of establishing a mutual/common bond.

Observing A Window Near Daybreak

I linger on the stair landing
watching the almond tree
press its branches against my window.
Like a bouquet of moths,
petals quiver and thrive
on light furnished by street lamps.
Spring visits me
in the guise of van Gogh --
unsettled, delivering an impulse
to redeem something lost.

During the last hour, I've spilled buttons
from a glass jar and found
black and olive to mend your dress shirts.
Now they are wearable, garments from a time
when I did not know or love you.
Yet, part of me is stitched
in their fabric, buttons secured
with a brunette threading
I wish I could claim as my hair.
______________________________________
Thank you so much for re-posting this! Those sculptures are enchanting and bring such delight to the observer!

Take care
Wendy

Hi Carina

This is breathtakingly enchanting! I love the title and the way you
correlate the development of a story with needle, thread and weaving. The language is lyrical and the message inviting, sublime! I truly love this and can visualize the scene and the process.

Thank you so much for sharing!
My Best
Wendy

Dear Terri:
Thank you for connecting me with first the secret thread, then Mr. Finch and his wonderful emotive beings. I've been kind of floating waiting to catch a thread of inspiration, something that can ground me at the same time take me to new places that I'm awaiting. Now I know I am doing just the right thing. Have a great 2016. Barb Rogers

Thank you Wendy. I'm glad you liked it. :)

Carina, have you sent this lovely poem to Mr. Finch...?

You're very welcome, Barb. I hope your 2016 is wildly creative and full of magic.

What incredibly beautiful sculptures!

How lovely! I particularly love the last five lines!

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