Tunes for a Monday Morning

Bluegrass fiddle and banj0

With so many eyes on America as the aftermath of the election unfolds, let's start the week with a collection of American folk ballads, old and new. The North American ballad tradition grew from the music of immigrant, enslaved, and indigenous peoples, blended into a distinct new form, which still influences bluegrass, folk, gospel, and country music to this day. Like most things in America, the history of the continent's balladry is complex, diverse, and many-faceted -- and all the richer for being a "melting pot" of songs and tunes. 

Above: "When First Unto This Country" performed by singer/songwriter Aoife O'Donovan, with Crooked Still. The song appeared on their early album Crooked Still Live (2009), but this version was filmed at a bluegrass festival in 2017.

Below: "Black is the Color" performed by singer/songwriter, banjo player and music historian Rhiannon Giddens (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops).  It's from Giddens' solo album Tomorrow is My Turn (2015). 

Above: "Come All You Coal Miners / Take Me to Harlan" performed by husband-and-wife banjo masters Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, with clog-dancing by Washburn and movement work from Pilobolus. The first piece, written by Sarah Ogan Gunning, concerns mining life in the Appalachian region of Kentucky; the second, by Fleck and Washburn, was inspired by the stories of those who left the mountains for urban life.

Below: "Émigré"  by singer/songwriter Alela Diane, from her album Cusp (2017)

Above: "Clyde Water," performed by Anais MitchellJefferson Hamer. This song, from the Anglo-Scots tradition, is found in the American ballad songbook too, carried over the ocean by immigrants. It appears on the Mitchell & Hamer album Child Ballads (2013), featuring songs collected by the American ballad historian James Francis Child.

Below: "Thomas County Law" by Iron and Wine (singer/songwriter Sam Beam). The song appeared on his album Beast Epic (2017).

To end with, a couple of Dylan songs influenced by American balladry:

Above: "Boots of Spanish Leather," performed by Mandolin Orange (Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz) for Audiotree Live in 2014.

Below: "Wagon Wheel" performed by Darius Rucker (from Hootie and the Blowfish). It's from Rucker's solo album True Believers (2013).

For more North American ballads, and ballad-influenced songs, go here.

Tunes for a Monday Evening

Loch Einich in the Caingorms

I've made no secret here of how much I love the music of Salt House, a Scottish folk trio whose last two album (Undersong and Huam) are often heard leaking through my studio door. Now two members of the band have released solo albums: The Living Mountain by Jenny Sturgeon and Landskein by Lauren MacColl. Both contain music rooted in the natural world, and both are exquisite.

Above: "Air & Light" by Jenny Sturgeon, from The Living Mountain. The album contains a cycle of songs inspired by Nan Shepherd's book of the same name: a pioneering work of nature writing set in the Cairngorms of north-east Scotland. Sturgeon explores "her own connection to this Highland area, as well as delving into Nan's philosophy of being in the mountains, and people's connection to the wild. The twelve songs take inspiration from the chapter titles of Nan's book; the lyrics tell of exploration, love, loss, and wonder at the natural world, from small scale mosses and moths to the wider landscape and ecosystem."

Below: "Water," another beautiful song from the same album.

Next, two songs by fiddle and viola player Lauren MacColl, from her haunting new album Landskein -- named for a word that Robert Macfarlane found in use in the Outer Hebrides, meaning: "The weaving and braiding of horizon lines often seen most clearly on hazy days in hill country."

Above: "Air Mullach Beinn Fhuathais (On Top of Ben Wyvis)."  The song is from The Airs and melodies peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles, collected by Captain Simon Fraser in 1816. The film and artwork above is by Mairearad Green.

Below: "Pentland Hills," inspired by the Pentland range south-west of Edinburgh.

The third member of Salt House is my friend Ewan MacPherson, who has released two solo albums to date -- as well as albums with Shooglenifty, Fribo, RoughCoastAudio and other bands, and work for the Modern Fairies project.

Above: "All the Kings (Scotland's Winter)," an adaptation of a poem by Orcadian poet Edwin Muir. "Scotland's Winter could be perceived on different levels," Ewan says. "The one which stands out for me is a nostalgic lament for better days past in relation to his homeland." The song first appeared on his album Norther in 2008, but this lovely new version was recorded in August.

Below, all three musicians together performing "Union of Crows." It's from the most recent Salt House album, Huam, released earlier this year.

Rookery by Eleanor Huges

The etching above is "The Rookery" by Eleanor Hughes (1882-1959). Born in New Zealand, she trained in England and is associated with the Newlyn group of artists in Cornwall.

A ray of sunshine for Monday Morning

I'm unable to be in the studio today as Howard and I are still helping an elderly relative through a truly difficult situation, and it's taking up a great deal of time. In lieu of a "Monday tunes" post this week, I'm slipping online briefly to pass on this wonderful song discovered via Ellen Kushner.

As we head into a stressful week -- due to the US election, the impending UK lockdown, and rising pandemic numbers around the world -- this is music for the soul.

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Swing dancers, 1940s

In the middle of a generally stressful year we've had an incredibly stressful week: supporting an elderly family member through a difficult situation, waiting for another family member's Covid test results (after a housemate tested positive for the virus), while also waiting for tests to tell us whether the scary lump on Tilly's leg was cancer or not. I can usually stay calm in a storm (I've weathered enough of them by now), but I admit that by week's end I was shaking with exhaustion and jumping at my own shadow. I'm greatly relieved to be able to report that the Covid test was Negative, and Tilly's lump is benign; so now we can focus on resolving the first problem, and getting back to normal life, or what passes for normal life in a global pandemic. 

Lindy-hop in Harlem in the 1930sFor me, that means not only re-finding calm and quiet but also simple pleasures and moments of joy. One of the things that gave me joy, pre-pandemic, was going to weekly lindy-hop lessons (when health allowed), and monthly swing dances in Exeter -- where a variety of Big Bands played, and people of all ages danced the night away, many of them dressed in clothes of the early swing & jive era: the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. All of that stopped when Covid hit, but Howard and I are keeping up our lindy-hop practice with regular sessions of dancing in the kitchen (the one room with a wooden floor and no rug). The moment I hear swing music playing, my spirits start to lift.

Today's music goes out to fellow dancers, and to everyone else who could use a lift too....

Above: "Bring Me Sunshine" performed by The Jive Aces, a popular jive & swing band here in the UK. Yes, swing started in America, but it was brought over to England by American GIs during World War II and has spread all around the world. The dancing in this video, with its athletic lifts and aerials, is a mix of jive and swing. 

Below: "Bright Lights Late Nights" performed by The Speakeasies' Swing Band, from Thessaloníki, Greece, with classic lindy-hop dance moves. This is the style of swing dancing that goes on in our kitchen.

Above: "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," a favourite song of mine from The Hot Sardines of New York City. You don't have to learn swing (or tap) dancing to enjoy the music....

Below: "Healing Dance" by Swingrowers, an electro-swing band from Palermo, Italy, with Sicilian rapper Davide Shorty.

Above: "Dramophone" by Caravan Palace, an electro-swing band from Paris. Electro-swing often involves more individual dancing than couple dancing, but incorporates many classic swing, jazz, and Charleston moves.

Below, ending as we started with The Jive Aces...and a pair of terrific lindy-hoppers. You're never too old to dance.

Oh heck, here's one more:

"Diga Diga Doo" by Skeedaddle, a swing & gypsy jazz band here in Devon. The violinist is Howard's cousin, Becky Doe; and the bass player is our friend and Chagford neighbour Tim Heming. They're a great band to dance to!

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Princep Folly  near Chagford  Devon by Stu Jenks

As rain drums on the studio's tin roof and a cold autumn wind strips leaves from the trees, here are songs of shelters and ruins...of tumbled stone walls half-buried in ivy...of the death of the year that gives birth to the new...of the losses that make way for new beginnings.

Above: "These Ruins," a new single by Bernadette Morris, from Co. Tyrone, Ireland. She has one solo album, All the Ways You Wander, 2013, with a second due out next year.

Below: "Green Unstopping" by The Rheingans Sisters (Anna & Rowan Rheingans), from the Peak District of Derbyshire. The song appeared on their lovely third album, Bright Field, 2018.

Above: "House on a Hill" by singer/songwriter Olivia Chaney, from Oxfordshire. The song, which was written and filmed in her family cottage on the North York Moors, appeared on her gorgeous album Shelter, 2018. (For the title song from the album, go here. For a live version of "House on the Hill," plus Chaney's "Roman Holiday," go here.)

Below: "The Old Churchyard" by Offa Rex (Olivia Chaney with The Decemberists). The song is from their collaborative album The Queen of Hearts, 2017.

Above: "Young Water Eyes" by Words of a Fiddle's Daughter (Adam Summerhayes and Murray Grainger of The Cinderhouse Rebellion, with poet Jessie Summerhayes), from North-East England. It appears on their new album of folk-tone-poems, rúnian (Anglo-Saxon for ’whisper’).

Below: "The Same Land" by Salt House (Ewan MacPherson, Lauren MacColl, and Jenny Sturgeon), based in Scotland. It's a soul-stirring song from their stunning new album Huam (a Scottish word for the call of an owl).

East of Merrivale by Stu Jenks

The Dartmoor photographs above are by our good friend Stu Jenks, an American photographer based in Arizona. (They were taken on a visit to Dartmoor a few years ago.)

For a previous post on the folklore of hearth & home, and magical houses in fantasy literature, go here. For a post on "home, land, and the view out the window," go here. And for a post on the mythos of moving, and "hefting" to a new home, go here.

Music and update

I An illustration for The Wind in the Willows by Inga Moore xx'm out of the studio today, down with symptoms again from mystery (Covid?) virus that Howard and I contracted early in the spring. These virus relapses have been getting shorter, at least, so I hope to be back in a day or two. (Touch wood.) 

In the meantime, here's a wee bit of Monday Music: the latest video from Irish filmmaker Myles O'Reilly, whose work I love. He says:

"I managed to escape the pale to visit the extraordinary medieval town of Clonmel for this next musical yarn, and a yarn it truly is. There I met with the legend John Spillane and a very humble and inspiring puppeteer by the name of Des Dillon. The beautiful characters which Des brings to life in this video are just the right amount of joy to serve as an affective antidote to all the noise out there."

Visit O'Reilly's website to see more of Irish music films, and his Patreon page to support this work.

From The Secret Garden illustrated by Inga Moore

The illustrations above art by Inga Moore. All rights to the film and art in this post  reserved by the filmmaker and artist. 

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Winged Stag Tapestry

I'm thinking about deer on this brisk autumn morning -- but the stags and hinds of the folk tradition tend to be hunted and haunted, and their stories rarely end well (for the deer). Chased by keepers and kings, they run to the dark of the forest, and leap into the heart of enchantment. Following their trail is never a safe proposition, as folk and fairy tales tell us over and over. The trail leads to death, or a life transformation, and we never know which it will be.

Above: "Abbots Bromley Horn Dance" by Stick in the Wheel. This folk dance is performed each year in Staffordshire, and dates back at least to the Middle Ages, with older pagan roots. The precise meaning of the original dance can only be speculated, but it may have been a form of sympathetic magic to bring about a successful hunt, honouring the deer and the hunters alike.  The video animation above is by Teresa Elizabeth Lobos, with archival footage from the village of Abbots Bromley.

Below: "Johnny O' Bredislee" (Child Ballad #114) performed by the great English folksinger June Tabor. This sad tale of a young man poaching the king's wild deer comes can be found on June's eleventh album, Aleyn (1997).

Above: "The Famous Flower of Serving Men" (Child Ballad #106 ) performed by Martin Carthy, another of the great musicians behind the revival of British folk music in the 20th century. This one is a murderous, magical, gender-bending tale that turns on a hunting trip, a mysterious white hind, and a ghostly white dove who weeps tears of blood. Carthy's version, recorded for his album Shearwater (1972), went on to inspire Delia Sherman's fine novel Through a Brazen Mirror (1989), and a portion of Ellen Kushner's award-winning Thomas the Rhymer (1990), both recommended.

Below: "Geordie" (Child Ballad #209) performed by June Tabor as part of Silly Sisters (with Maddy Prior), on their self-titled debut album (1976). It's the story of a man caught poaching deer in the king's greenwood, and a bold woman determined to save him from execution for the theft.

Above: "King Henry" (Child Ballad #32) performed by The Furrow Collective (Lucy Farrell, Rachel Newton, Emily Portman, and Alasdair Roberts) -- a ghostly story that starts with a deer hunt, proceeds to the after-hunt feast, and then gets progressively stranger. Martin Carthy, who also sings the ballad, once referred to it as "Beauty and the Beast reversed, originating in the Gawain strand of the Arthurian legend. The King Henry in the ballad probable never existed, since the point of the tale is that chivalry has its own rewards."

Below: "Sheaf and Knife" (Child Ballad #16) performed by Eliza Carthy (Martin Carthy's daughter, of the Carthy-Waterson folk music clan). This incest tale is dark even by Child Ballad standards, which is dark indeed, involving a deer hunt with hawk and hound that leads to a young woman's terrible fate. Carthy's version of the song appeared on her album Heat Light & Sound (1996). 

Above: "The Keeper," a traditional English folk song ostensibly about hunting the doe, but with obvious sexual connotations -- performed here by Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys, from their album Pretty Peggy (2017).

Below: "The Death of the Hart Royal" performed by Faustus (Paul Sartin, Benji Kirkpatrick, and Saul Rose). This unusual ballad of Robin Hood, Lord of the Greenwood, was found in the archives of Somerset folk song collector Ruth Tongue. The band recorded it for their third album, Death and Other Animals (2017), when they were Artists in Residence at Halsway Manor, the National Folk Arts Centre in Somerset's Quantock Hills.

White Stag by Ruth Sanderson

Art above: A detail from the "Winged Stag" tapestry (French, 15th century), and "White Stag" by Ruth Sanderson. For deer folklore, magic, and poetry, see the previous post, Following the Deer.

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Freshly picked blackberries

Fruits of the Earth

The Devon hedgerows are thick with blackberries and the orchards hang heavy with their fruits, so here are songs of farmers and plough boys, the harvest time, and the land's abundance....

Above: "Harvest Song" performed by Devon folk musician Jim Causley. It's from his early album Fruits of the Earth (2005). [Alas, this video has been removed from YouTube. I recommend tracking the song down via Fruits of the Earth. It's a very good album, perfect for this time of year. - TW, Oct. 25, 2020]

Below: "Reaphook and Sickle" performed by Waterson-Carthy (Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, and Tim van Eyken), from their album Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man (2006)

Above: "Hey John Barleycorn" performed by Jack Rutter, a folk musician from West Yorkshire. This song isn't the better-known Barleycorn ballad popularised by Robert Burns but a broadside ballad from the 17th century, extolling the virtues of a plant which will soon be made into ale and beer. The song appeared on Rutter's album Hills (2017).

Below: "The Farmer's Toast" performed by folk musician Kate Rusby, from South Yorkshire. The song appeared on her recent album Philosophers, Poets & Kings (2019).

Above: "The Barley and the Rye" performed by Bill Jones, a folk musician from Sunderland in the north of England. The song appeared on her early album Panchpuran (2001).

Below: "Ploughboy Lads" performed by Scottish musician Alasdair Roberts (of The Furrow Collective). The song appeared on his early solo album The Crook of My Arm (2001).

Above: Ralph McTell's "The Hiring Fair," performed by the long running folk-rock band Fairport Convention. This version of the song appeared on Fairport's album In Real Time (1987).

Below: "Lovely Molly," performed by London-based folk singer and song collector Sam Lee, with London's Roundhouse Choir, at the BBBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, 2016. The song appeared on his album The Fade in Time (2015). For more of his music, go here and here

Our courtyard, early autumn

Blackberries picked this morning

And one more....

Below: "Soil & Soul," a new song by the English vocal harmony trio Lady Maisery (Hannah James, Hazel Askew, and Rowan Rheingans). It appears on their album Live (2020).

A field of heritage apples

Apples on the courtyard table

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Garden gathering

Here in Devon, apples cluster on mossy old trees and blackberries are ripening as the summer eases into autumn. The morning air is crisp with change ... yet the pandemic goes drearily on and on. With each new season we learn new ways to live with it, but it takes a heavy toll.

Working from an isolated cabin by the woods, my daily routines (long hours of solitary desk work, broken by rambles through the hills with Tilly) have changed less than most. But Chagford, our village, is a sociable place, and it is very strange to have gone so long without meeting up with friends and neighbours for meals, music, community events, shared celebrations. The summer went by in the blink of an eye and seems to have barely happened at all. The Dartmoor countryside was as beautiful as always, the air even clearer, the birdsong more vivid ... but without friends gathered at an outdoor table, or sprawled around a picnic blanket, or playing music by a campfire while the kids and dogs tumble through the tall grass, it didn't actually feel like summer. I usually love the turning of the seaon, but this year it is tinged with melachology for all we've missed.

In honour of convivial summers past, and in the hope that there will be many more to come, I'm starting the week with songs of feasts and friendships, and of weathering hard times together....

Above: "Rang Tang Ring Toon" by Moutain Man, an American vocal harmony trio (Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Amelia Randall Meath) from the mountains of Vermont. The song appeared on their second album, Magic Ship (2018).

Below: "Nest" by Ruth Moody, from Winnipeg, Canada -- best known as a member of the Wailin' Jennys trio. The song appeared on her first solo album, The Garden (2010).

Above: "Stand Like an Oak," a new single fom Rising Appalachia (sisters Leah and Chloe Smith), who divide their time between Georgia and New Orleans. Their most recent album is Leylines (2019).

Below: "Old Pine," by Ben Howard, who hails from the other side of the moor. This one, set on the Devon/Cornwall coast, is an old favourite of mine from Ben's first album, Every Kingdom (2011).

Above: "Old Ties and Companions" by Mandolin Orange (Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz), from North Carolina. The song appeared on their fourth album, Such Jubilee (2015).

Below: An ode to the "Company of Friends" by Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt, from Austin, Texas. The song appeared on Elkin's solo album For Keeps (2012).

Candles in the courtyard

But let's not end on that somber note.

Below, "Typhoon" by Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards reminds us that after the wreckage of life's storms there's a time for building up again, preferably surrounded by our friends. The song is from their new album, Bitter Better (July 2020).

Around the table in Elizabeth-Jane's cottage

Top photograph: Preparing for a gathering of friends in my mother-in-law's garden here in Chagford, pre-pandemic.
Bottom photograph: Feasting with a group of women friends: Wendy Froud, me, Carol Amos, Elizabeth-Jane Baldry, Marja Lee and Hazel Brown (holding the camera), in Elizabeth-Jane's cottage kitchen. We'd been meeting monthly like this for over 25 years until the pandemic struck. I long for the day when we'll meet so freely again. I know it will come.

The Visionary Art of Marja Lee Kruÿt

Marja Lee Kruÿt

Marja Lee Kruÿt was born and raised in the Netherlands in the province of Drenthe: a beautiful, dolmen-studded region in the northeast of the country, near the German border. She spent five years studying fashion illustration design in Amsterdam, and at the age of twenty she embarked on a professional career as a fashion illustrator. In 1964, Marja moved to London, where she created fashion drawings for major stores in England and abroad, as well as for newspapers and magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. She was also involved in the ballet — both as a dancer and as a costumer for various productions -- and she made clothes for a Plimlico boutique that catered to the likes of Marianne Faithful, Mick Jagger, Pete Townsend, and Brian Jones. (Faithful was often photographed during those years in a cape Marja designed for her.)

Marja Lee KruÿtWhile she was living in London, in a flat above Quentin Crisp's, Marja met her future husband, Alan Lee, a talented book illustrator. In 1975, the couple moved to a rural village at the edge of Dartmoor, sharing a house with their friend and fellow-artist, Brian Froud.

Brian Sanders described the house in 1977 (in the book The Land of Froud):  "From the outside the house is a modest Victorian cottage set back from the street in a tangled garden. From the moment that one crosses the threshold, guarded by a moss and lichen jewelled hand pointing skywards, from amid a welter of muddy wellington boots, a different land begins. Two families, the Lees and the Frouds, live here: the real Lee children side-by-side with Brian's family, the Troll King, his brother, and their mother. The mother has a hand in her back, and when Brian holds her they become one. The puppet fits to him and there is a deep affection between them: Brian the wizard surrounded by his animate creations, discussing them with a child who believes in them as much as he does. Walls, shelves and floors are crowded with books, toys, found objects and constructions. Ghosts, faeries and pictures of goblins abound." (It was during these years that Alan and Brian produced their now-classic art book, Faeries.)

Meanwhile, Marja continued to pursue her London-based illustration career until her children were born, but afterwards (like so many other women artists of her generation) her fashion work was set aside while she raised her children, and provided admin support for her husband's busy career. Yet even during those years focused on running a household, her creative powers did not lie dormant. She created costumes for local theatrical productions, and for figures sculpted by doll-artist Wendy Froud; she drew portraits, designed hats and clothes, and studied the Celtic harp...all while excelling in the area Grace Nuth has dubbed domythic art: bringing myth, magic, and romantism into every aspect of domestic life.

 Marja Lee Kruÿt

In 1998, her children grown, a new chapter in her life began when Marja returned to the studio. The work she produced was astonishing: drawings and paintings with a rich maturity of vision that had been quietly brewing over all those years, emerging like dreams, straight from the subconscious, each one a treasure of mythic art.

Marja Lee Kruÿt

"I've always been interested in dreams," she says. "And in myth, mysticism, and symbolism. Through the use of color, of line, of the symbolic nature of garments, objects, patterns, and flowers, I attempt to create pictures that work on many different levels: marrying our everyday reality with other planes of dream and intuition. Painting, to me, is soul work, healing work. It's a kind of meditation."

Marja Lee Kruyt

Her creative practice is a spiritual one, craft and technique in service to spiritual intent.

"I begin each picture with a ceremony," she explains, "opening myself to the picture's theme and asking to be given the symbols with which to represent that theme. It's important to stay wide open as I work, to let the images come through me, unforced, shapes and colors emerging intuitively. It's a slow, deep, painstaking process, and a single picture can take me several months -- working out the composition and colors by doing many drawings and watercolor sketches first. Each part of the picture must be right; each element has an individual meaning, yet must also be woven into the rest of the design. I often use Celtic patterns, for instance, which represent the way things weave together in life -- and the way that our lives in the here-and-now are woven with other dimensions of consciousness.

Marja Lee Kruÿt

 "Flowers, animals, stones -- all these pictorial elements must work as part of the painting's composition, but have symbolic meanings as well. The specific flow and movement of a garment, for instance, can represent different aspects of spiritual awareness. I draw upon Celtic symbols ... Eastern symbols ... Steiner colour theory ... Perelandra essences ... mandalas ... whatever the picture calls for. Watercolor is a fluid medium and I strive to work with, not against, the flow. That may sound airy-fairy but it's not, really; watercolor is a medium that requires technical precision too. In art, as in life, we must be grounded and free-flowing, intuitive, all at once. I suppose making pictures in this way, like any spiritual practice, is really all about balance."

Marja Lee Kruÿt

"My background in fashion illustration is probably evident in my paintings, as well as my love of music and harps. I also like painting children, representing that childlike part within each of us. And fairies. Living here on Dartmoor, fairies were bound to turn up in my pictures!

"I have always loved the Victorian 'fairy painters' and book illustrators, such as Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, as well as the Pre-Raphaelites: William Morris, Burne-Jones, Rossetti. But the artists who have influenced me the most are Gustav Klimt, Sulamith Wülfing, and the Renaissance painters Sandro Botticelli and Benezzo Gozzoli -- particularly the angels. Wülfing's influence is probably the most apparent. I feel an affinity with her. She drew angels even as a little girl, often talking about her angels and guides, and was influenced by Krishnamurti, the White Brotherhood, and the Theosophical Society. She was a mystic, really, and expressed her mysticism through her art. There are things that we can portray through pictures and symbols that we can't convey as easily through words. Art can speak directly to the soul. Wülfing's best pictures do this -- as do some of the great religious pictures from the Renaissance.

Marja Lee Kruÿt

"I think art can be healing, moving, enlightening. It can also be puzzling, disturbing, or even upsetting...and sometimes that is necessary. It wakes you up. When you live with a picture, when you keep looking at it and taking it into yourself over a period of time, it can change you: moving you from one way of thinking to another, from one level of consciousness to the next. I like pictures that make you keep on looking, that reveal themselves and their meanings slowly. Art that keeps on giving you more, and a little more, every time you look."

Painting studio

Marja works from an exquisite painting studio at the back of a "secret garden," tucked away at the end of a path behind the old stone building where she lives. It is from here she does her "soul work," weaving painting and spiritual practices into a life lived on many levels at once. She creates magic on each one of those levels, and trails beauty behind wherever she goes.

Marja Lee Kruÿt

Marja at Kelmscott Manor

Photograph: Marja Lee Kruÿt at Kelmscott Manor (William Morris' country house in the Cotswolds), 2017. For a post about our trip up to Kelmscott, go here. For folklore of the harp, go here.

The paintings and drawings above are under copright by Marja Lee Kruyt, and may not be reproduced without her permission; all rights are reserved by the artist. The title of each artwork can be found in the picture captions. (Run your cursor over the images to see them.) The Brian Sanders quote is from The Land of Froud (Peacock Press/Bantam Books, 1977).