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Widdershins 2016: Pathways to the Faerie Realm

Rima Staines, Widdershins

Into the Path's Embrace by Virginia LeeThe second Widdershins exhibition of moorland mythic art has opened at Green Hill Arts in Moretonhampstead, running until August 27th. A sign by the gallery door explains the exhibition's premise:

"Dartmoor is a landscape rich in legend, full of ghostly white Whist Hounds, shapeshifting Witch Hares, trolls who lurk under clapper bridge and piskies who dance among standing stones. Ancient carvings of the Green Man can be found all over Devon, symbolizing the wild green mysteries of nature. Old country folk still put bowls of milk out for the faeries, to seek their blessing...and to ward off their mischief! 

"All of the artists in this show are local to Dartmoor (or have strong local connections), inspired by the timeless magic of the land. Their art explores myth, folklore, hedge-magic and faery tales in diverse ways -- ranging from earthy to ethereal, spiritual to whimsical, and dark to light. Walking widdershins (counter-clockwise) is a pathway into Faerie. Come with us. There are wonders ahead."

The photographs below come from the show's opening night (last Friday), accompanied by a transcript of Alan Lee's eloquent introductory speech. I haven't photographed every piece of art however, or transcribed all of the quotes written on the walls, as that would lessen the sense of discovery for those who are planning to come and see it. But here's a peek....

Alan LeeGeorgiana Lingard (of Green Hill Arts) and Alan Lee open the exhibition

An Introduction to Widdershins 2016

by Alan Lee

I don’t know if we are in a fairy hot-spot here in Devon, but we definitely seem to be in a fairy hot-spot. Dartmoor, and the South West in general, have generated a rich history of fairy-lore, folk tales, and mysterious legends, and have inspired writers, story-tellers, and artists for a long time. Perhaps it is something in the water (the salt waters of the shoreline, the murmuring streams, the mist, the rain, the moorland bogs), or something in the shifting, transitory quality of the weather (the slow seasonal changes, the long summer dusks) that lends itself to fey thoughts and to an immersion in stories.

Faery drawing and painting by Alan Lee

A wall of faeries by Alan Lee & Brian FroudA wall of faery drawings & paintings by Alan Lee & Brian Froud

And if you can edit out the cacophony of our road traffic and our post-industrial times, there is a soft soundscape that is every bit as alluring...

In the Word Wood by David WyattBe not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

Ok, it’s a bit escapist; but when you think about it, many (if not most) of the landmarks in our cultural history were small steps forward while looking back over our shoulder at an ancient and often illusory past: a golden age, an age of wonders and lost civilizations. Of learning. Of giants.

Examing art by Alan LeeArtist Alexandra Dawe & her partner examining JRR Tolkien illustrations by Alan Lee

Medieval monks collected and transcribed legends set in the mythological past. Mallory and Chaucer wove romances and folk-tales into great works of art. Shakespeare, Spenser and Michael Drayon drew deeply from the British fairy tradition.

Works by David Wyatt, Marja Lee & Virginia Lee

Paintings and prints by Danielle BarlowMythic art by David Wyatt, Marja Lee, Virginia Lee, & Danielle Barlow

Then there are the Gothic and Romantic movements, the Pre-Raphaelites, the Neo Romantics, all reviving past modes of thought, techniques, and aesthetics. It’s in the poetry of Shelley, Keats, Christina Rossetti, and W.B. Yeats. It’s in children’s literature, and in the cinema, right from the beginning.

Painting by Virginia Lee

Works by Virginia Lee and David Wyatt

Faery boxes by Hazel Brown

Faery books written and hand-bound by Hazel BrownMythic paintings, sculptures, & objects by Virginia Lee, David Wyatt, Hazel Brown, & Wendy Froud

A number of the artists in this exhibition work as illustrators, putting their skills at the service of writers who have brought a new vigour to this type of storytelling, such as Terry Prachet, Geraldine McCaughrean and Phillip Reeve. Others make objects which bring that magic, and those stories, into a fascinating physical form. Forget Brexit for an hour or two, and enjoy exploring them.

Faery sculpture by Wendy FroudOver hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I'll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.

Faery Godmothers by Wendy FroudFaery sculptures by Wendy Froud

Faery paintings by Hazel BrownFaery paintings by Hazel Brown

"The job of a storyteller is to speak the truth; but what we feel most deeply cannot be spoken in words. At this level only images connect. And so story becomes symbol; and symbol is myth."   - Alan Garner

Brian & MarjaMarja Lee & Brian Froud in front of Marja's paintings

Baba Yaga by Rima Staines and Imbolc by Marja LeeMythic paintings by Rima Staines and Marja Lee

"Humans are storytelling creatures. We need story, we need deep mythic happenings, as much as we need food and sun: to set us in our place in the family of things, in a world that lives and breathes and throws us wild tests, to show us the wildernesses and the lakes, the transforming swans, of our own minds."  - Sylvia Linsteadt

Artists Suzi Crockford, Rima Staines, and Hazel BrownArtists Suzi Crockford, Rima Staines, & Hazel Brown

Virginia Lee, Pauline Lee, and Angharad BarlowMythic arts by Virginia Lee, Pauline Lee, & Angharad Barlow

"Dealing with the impossible, fantasy can show us what may really be possible. If there is grief, there is the possibility of consolation; if hurt, the possibility of healing; and above all, the curative power of hope. If fantasy speaks to us as we are, it also speaks to us as we might be."   - Lloyd Alexander

Angharad, Virginia & DavidArtists Angharad Barlow, Virginia Lee, & David Wyatt

Hares by Paul Kidby and Danielle BarlowMythic hares by Paul Kidby & Danielle Barlow

Victoria & meVictoria Windling-Gayton (our daughter) and me in front of my fairy tale collages

Two of my hand-stitched collagesTwo of my six hand-stitched collages: "A Luminosity of Birds" & "Once Upon a Time"

"Magic lies in between things, between the day and the night, between yellow and blue, between any two things."  - Charles de Lint

HowardDramatist & puppeteer Howard Gayton (my husband), with faery art by Brian Froud & Alan Lee

"Storytellers ought not to be too tame. They ought to be wild creatures who function adequately in society.  They are best in disguise.  If they lose all their wildness, they cannot give us the truest joys." - Ben Okri

JennyTheatrical costume designer Jenny Gayton (my mother-in-law)

Tom Poet  and Storyteller Tom Hirons

Rima & WendyArtists Rima Staines & Wendy Froud

"What is wild cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is. Unmistakeable, unforgettable, unshamable, elemental as earth and ice, water, fire and air, a quitessence, pure spirit, resolving into no contituents. Don't waste your wildness: it is precious and necessary.”  - Jay Griffiths

Painting on wood by Rima StainesMythic art by Rima Staines

For more information on the show, go here. For a schedule of related events (workshops, talks, films, etc.), visit the calendar section of the Green Hill Arts website. For pictures from the first Widdershins exhibition in 2013, go here or here.

"Touch magic, pass it on."  - Jane Yolen

Green Hill Arts


Beautiful Terri and we don't half need a bit of beauty right now.

Ash, oak and thorn grow at the bottom of my garden (the trees that open a portal into the land of Faerie) perhaps I'll walk widdershins around them and get away from all the politics and politicians.

Great art. Just what's needed amongst all the chaos.

what a magical gathering!

Lovely to see all the faces. Your community is wonderful!

Wish I could have been there, but an overabundance of family and friends here this year, a novel to finish writing, and a cash flow problem means I stay in Scotland.

Looks amazing.


Ahhh so beautiful! What a stunningly magical bunch of people, all my favourite artists in one spot! If I wasn't on the other other side of the world I'd be there in a second! (would of course be amaaaazing to see more images at some point if possible!?)
xxx Nadia

Touch Magic, pass it on - Jane Yolen

First the scent, free and rising
From the somewhere, with water
And all elements, each shade

Of green. It could be a forest,
A backyard in a small village.
Or a park in a vast city.

You can be a child, a youngster
A puzzled grownup, an elder.
You have caught it. It is yours.

Once a greedy gulper happens
Hides in bottles, deep in a basement
Alas tipping over and gone.

You must pass it on. Verse is good,
Painting too. Costumes and masks
Music, oh yes, whispers or wild calls.

Some know not they have it.
They are surprised, flutters at
The window. Unforgettable song.

Thank you for sharing the wonder, for the inspiration and the beauty. Thank you for reminding me that there are many ways to view the world we live in and the people we share it with. Blessings to you all x

Oh, what marvelous smiles, what beautiful art, what a magical world you are sustaining! Wish I could have been there. I suppose it's just up to me to conjure some right here in my office today and out in my garden. Thank you for sharing this joy, Terri!

Delightful poem, Phyllis! =)

This looks like an absolutely wondrous show. Congratulations Terri! I so wish I could be there. Does Widdershins happen every three years or so? (I see the last one was in 2013.) Thinking ahead. Perhaps I might find a way to the next one.

And thank you for this quote today. Dealing with some difficult news and this helped:

"Dealing with the impossible, fantasy can show us what may really be possible. If there is grief, there is the possibility of consolation; if hurt, the possibility of healing; and above all, the curative power of hope. If fantasy speaks to us as we are, it also speaks to us as we might be." - Lloyd Alexander

Lovely - it was a joy to be able to go to the opening. I think Alexandra Dawes' website has got misplaced in the editing, though (and replaced with mine!)

Fantasy may die momentarily through cynicism or technical logic; but imagination is its shadow, its spirit, its sidhe. Its magical essence is immortal and rises (again and again) consciously or unconsciously, collectively or individually manifesting itself in the natural landscape as well as the spiritual. It gives us our
inclination to dream and believe that under the skin of ordinary there is the circulation of extraordinary things.


If she dies
Trapped under cloven stone
the sea water will hum
in mournful tides.

Her spirit will rise, drift
with the scent of Spring
To highland fields.

There, she will rest
graceful lady in wild green ---
her long hair trickling
into shadow, wind and grass.

And yet, her magic will be felt
in the sway of blossoms
prompting fish to spawn

or that wishbone of light
looming between mountains
after a thunderstorm.

if she dies
as change splits the earth
she’ll be transparent
in our tears, those raindrops
on a forest leaf
and then pass into memory.

Her pale aura clinging
To all of us still
like rhyme to a poem
or yellow sands
to an island of sleep.

What a wondrous gathering and collection of mythic art. Incredibly beautiful and much needed in this time of unsettling change and turmoil. Thank you so much for sharing this! I was enthralled!

Take care

Hi Phyllis

A perfect and beautiful way to describe natural and inherent magic within us. I love how you mention the elements and the varied shades of green. We are all connected in some way to the wilds of nature, her ways and her mysteries. But first we must listen, learn and acquire. And then as Jane says and you expand upon in your wondrous poem, pass it on. This is a delight to read and that ending is such superb --

You must pass it on. Verse is good,
Painting too. Costumes and masks
Music, oh yes, whispers or wild calls.

Some know not they have it.
They are surprised, flutters at
The window. Unforgettable song.
Thank you!

Sidhe...I held my breath if she could die. But the hint is, she cannot. It is all there in secret places, rhyme to a poem, an island of sleep that can still awaken.

Thank you. All Myth and a far off Moor, where we can go when we are hurt or feeling bad.
The magic of all this.

Merci bien, don't know why I feel French but it guess it is a beautiful language and it
perches on my twigs of nice words.

Thanks to you Terri, too. I have some grim unlovely problems to settle, which is taking time and a wish
to go into a tunnel and yell. The light of magic holds me in.

Hi Phyllis

What a lovely and beautiful way of looking at this! Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. I deeply appreciate them!

Take care

I've just spotted that too. Ah well, in our line of work we have to accept the interference of a few gremlins here and there!

Terri thank you so much for sharing. I have loved each entry and feel privileged to see and read them here.
Wishing all of you the best!

So sorry!!!! Fixed now.

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