Tales from the Hedge

Leaves

Seven Doors in an Unyeilding Stone

Tom Hirons & Rima Staines

Earlier this year, I received an intriguing invitation from my friends Tom Hirons & Rima Staines -- storytellers, mythic wanderers, and proprietors of Hedgespoken Press. They were planning an unusual new project, and asked if I'd like to join in.

Drawing by Rima StainesThey envisioned a series of pocket-sized books designed and published by Hedgespoken. Seven authors. Seven beautiful books. Seven ways to approach the unapproachable and speak about the unspeakable.

"We picture," they said, "a small book found somewhere in the wilds or in some threshold place: a railway station or the waiting room of an undertaker or a nurse; the book is a flash of lightning, a searing experience, something initiatory. We imagine a reader finding a book unexpectedly, picking it up and being drawn in, to another world, leaving that world slightly stunned and perhaps a little changed."

What a marvelously mythic concept! And also, what a challenging one. I wondered what on earth I could write...but, of course, I said "yes" at once.

My book of tiny talesThe seven small books are now complete, and will be available as of mid-November. There's a launch party at Dartington Village Hall on November 10th, and all are welcome -- so please come join us for stories and revelry if you happen to be in travelling distance of Dartmoor.

My own contribution to the series is a collection of seven tiny tales that fall somewhere between poetry and prose: mythic messages that you might find buried in ivy and leaves or under a mossy stone. Tom calls them "poems-prayers-chants," and that's as good a description as any.

The other authors in the series are Jay Griffiths, Martin Shaw, Sylvia V. Linsteadt, and Joanna Hruby, plus Tom and Rima themselves. For more information, or to pre-order the books (either individually or as a boxed set), please visit the Hedgespoken Press site. And while you are there, please ramble through their other fine book and art offerings as well.

Leaves

Books by Sylvia  Joanna  and Martin

Books by Tom  Rima  and Jay

Leaves

Terri Windling & Rima Staines, 2011


Tomorrow here in Chagford:
Art Auction & Tea Party

Fairy Tales by Terri Windling

For folks within travelling distance of Devon:

A number of women artists (including me) have donated art-work and craft-work to a charity auction happening tomorrow (Saturday, November 18) in Chagford's Jubilee Hall, 2 - 5 pm.  No ticket required, no entrance fee. Please come if you can.

My friend Susan Harley organised the auction to raise funds to support women with breast cancer in Gaza, via the Amos Trust. As a cancer survivor myself, I can't imagine what it's like to face any sort of cancer under the kinds of conditions these brave women cope with. From the Amos Trust:

For women with breast cancer in Gaza, Israel’s and Egypt’s near-total closure affects nearly every stage of their diagnosis and treatment. Doctors in clinics and hospitals say that vital medicines, including chemotherapy drugs, are hard to procure. Patients have reported having had their chemotherapy course interrupted when drugs could not be supplied, or simply having been unable to complete the course at all.  Radio isotopes used in bone scans or for guided biopsy of axillary lymph nodes are forbidden entry into Gaza; and Gaza’s surgeons are prevented from travelling out to attend conferences or further develop their skills, freezing surgical practice many years behind the rest of the world.  A Harvard Medical School study has shown that five-year survival rates for breast cancer patients are as low as 30-40%, compared with around 85% in England. Having breast cancer is bad enough -- but having it in Gaza is unimaginable. The Amos Trust supports women with cancer, and runs community outreach prevention and early identification programmes as this is the women’s best chance of survival.

Please come if you can, have some cake, look at beautiful art, and support women helping women.

Update: Thanks to the hard work of Susan Harley & team, this event raised over £3000.00! Many thanks to the young woman who bought my donation to the auction (the "Fairy Tales" collage above) for giving the bunnies and tree girls a good home.


Widdershins collage #6

Fairy Tales by Terri Windling

Fairy Tales

Framed collage in my studio, prior to the exhibition

Drawing detail by Terri Windling

Collage detail

Once upon a time there was a girl, there was a boy, there was a poor woman who wanted, there was a queen who couldn't have, there was witch who lived under, there was a green frog at the bottom of, there was a troll, a tree, a bear, a bright eyed bird who knew the secret of, there was a fairy who had lost, there was a child who had found, there was a wizard who had made, there was a princess who had broken, there was a story that was trying to be told. Listen. The wind is speaking....

Collage & drawing details

Collage materials

Bits & bobs

Roughs and texts on  the work table

Patterend papers & tape measure

Coffee cup, threads, twigs, paints

Collage materials

texts for collage

Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino


Widdershins collage #5

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep by Terri Windling

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

On the work table

Collage materials

Patterned papers

Drawing detail

Sketch in progress   Now I lay me down to sleep,
   I pray to Earth, my soul to keep.
   I pray to Wind, for gentle dreams.
   To Water, for sweet murmurings.
   To Grass, where I will make my bed.
   To Moss, where I will rest my head.
   To blood’s Fire, to keep me warm.
   To Dark, to keep me safe from harm.
   To Moon, to dim her silver light
   so Fox will pass me by tonight.
   I pray to Stars, who watch above.
   Bless me, and everyone I love.

Framed collage in my studio, prior to the exhibition

Tilly

Rabbits & Hares

Rabbits, fox, & hound from medieval tapestries

Rabbit & hounds

Me & Tilly

This post was composed on 8/27, & set up for automated posting on 9/2. I'll be back on-line on 9/5.


Widdershins collage #4

The Language of Trees by Terri Windling

The Language of Trees

The thing you need to know, child, is that trees do speak, they do tell tales, they sing when the've a mind to, they are gigglers, gossips, grumblers, cataloguing every ache and pain, and yet they hold no grudges, claim no debts, speak ill of no creature. They have their tempers, yes, trantrums of branches lashed in gusts and gales, but then they come to rest in stillness, spent, humming contentedly. You've heard them, child, just yesterday. You thought it was only the wind. The thing you need to know is that by dawn-light every tree stands tall and chants its name, its history, its kinship web and lineage. You've heard them, child, the rustle beneath the dawn chorus of birds. The thing you need to know is that the trees tell stories older than the oldest tales of humankind -- by dusk, by night, by starlight, you have heard their midnight murmuring. You told me so. You thought it was just water running in the stream. The thing you need to know, child, is that trees do speak, in their own language. They mutter with the crackle of old brown leaves, they sigh with the snow drifiting at their feet, they utter exquisite arboreal poems as each tender new leaf unfurls, they laugh in shivers of green and gold tickled by the passing breeze. The thing you need to know, child, is that trees do speak, in the tree language. And yes, you will understand their speech one day, root child, sweet sapling.

Work table

Collage detail by Terri Windling

Bits & bobs

Drawing detail

Collage materials

Framed collage in my studio, prior to the exhibition

The language of trees

Listen

Leaves & threads

Can you hear them?

This post was composed on 8/27, & set up for automated posting on 9/1. I'll be back on-line on 9/5.


An Invitation

My studio desk

To all of you within travelling distance of Devon:

Please join Marja Lee, Hazel Brown and me for an Artists Coffee Morning on Friday at Green Hill Arts in Mortenhampstead, where the Widdershins 2016 exhibition of Dartmoor mythic art is currently on display. We'll be talking about our art in the exhibition, and also about the process of making mythic art -- with a focus on how myth, folklore, and friendship impacts our lives and creative work.

The event takes place on Friday, 29 July, from 11 to 1:00. Tickets cost £6.00, with all proceeds going to support Green Hill (a non-for-profit community art centre). You can book in advance, or just show up on the day. There will be coffee, tea, baked goods of some sort, art, conversation...and no doubt some laughter too. Do come if you can.

More information can be found on the Green Hill website (but please note that Wendy Froud, originally part of the event, is unable to be with us).

More information on the Widdershins exhibition is here. Photographs from the show's opening night are here.

Hazel's desk

Hazel Brown, Terri Windling, Marja LeePhotographs: My studio desk, with one of Marja's drawings in the background; Hazel's desk; pictures by Hazel, me, & Marja (click on the photo to see a larger version).


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


Writing for Charity

Writing for Charity

Disgusted that the UK government has voted against helping refugee children? Turn your anger into aid by supporting the Writing For Charity auction, where you can bid on signed books, rare books, manuscript critiques & editorial services, dates with famous authors and all kinds of other bookish, writerly, & illustrative things...

Such as naming a character in a Bordertown story by me & Ellen Kushner. Or giving the wee Devon Bunny Girls below a good home.

Please bid if you can. Or, if the size of your wallet doesn't equal the size of your heart, you can still pitch in by helping us to spread the news.

Go here for the auction. Go here for the bunnies' page. And go here for the Bordertown page. 

Bunny Troupe by Terri Windling