Monday, 23 December 2013

Figuren Theatre Company - First Showing

Over the last few months I've been exploring puppetry.

I've been amazingly fortunate to have met Howard Gayton (see some of his mask theatre work here, and a graphic novel project here) who has been sharing some of his theatre and puppet skills with me and Rima and Andy.

It has been wonderfully challenging and engaging to be studying a performance art form again, especially one which combines so many of my favourite things!
There is the craft of making puppets themselves (something I've been dabbling with for a while now) which I am deeply excited about and hope to to learn more of in the future. There is the precision and awareness of a movement practise which requires one pay so much attention to the way things move. There is the magic of theatre which brings the inanimate to life.

So, art, movement, magic - what more could one want?

After some initial workshops with Howard, we set to devising a little showing. The show we have come up with is called 'How the Hoggler got it's name'.
It, and the Hoggler, had their first outing a few days ago in five performances given to invited friends.

I surprised myself by really enjoying being 'on stage' again.
Being on stage with/for a puppet is very different from what I learnt about performing aerial. The most obvious difference of note is that in some ways the puppeteer is not performing to the audience at all. The aim, as I have begun to understand it, is to serve the puppet. All intention, energy and presence needs to flow through the puppeteer into the puppet. In a sense, the puppeteer is invisible on stage, even when very visible, as we most often were.

In some ways this direction of presence away from the self, reminds me of the way I sometimes engaged with aerial work. My mind often focused on the beauty and power of the visual imagery that could be achieved through aerial work. Because of this, I felt that I could sometimes vanish into the movement in a "Hey, don't look at me, look at my body in the air," kind of way.
This visible vanishing was often where I felt most comfortable, but was possibly not what is usually required of a moving body on stage...It does however appear to be vital to the puppeteer. Hopefully this bodes well!

All I know for sure is that there is a whole world of craft and magic to be learnt in this area. And I'm very grateful to have been granted a small first step into it.

Here are some photos of our showing.
Big thanks to Terri Windling (an amazing, amazing artist and author if you don't know her work) for the photos (close ups of props and gloves by Rima).
Rima Staines made the gorgeous props and the lovely Hoggler.
Andy Letcher (author, musician and my own dear husband) provided beautiful music and storytelling. We all devised choreography and the story itself.
Howard provided direction, training, studio space and genius :)

The Hoggler wakes up

The Hoggler climbs the World Tree

The Hoggler dances

Monday, 2 December 2013

Yule cards...

These are now available to buy from my etsy shop. I don't have loads left after the craft fayre, so get in quick! 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Yule Cards

I've found it really hard to concentrate on drawing recently. I know the reasons for this, but it is still pretty frustrating to be unable to exorcise the images in my mind onto the page.

I'm part of a Christmas craft fair at the end of the month and, as ever, there is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind.  So, I'm making some drawings that can become Christmas cards.

I'm not a very 'Christmassy' person, so finding images for this project has been a tad tricky...There is a girl forming who seems to have fox ears. I'm unsure how Christmassy foxes (or their ears) are, but she is wearing bright rowan berries which I for one associate with this time of year...

The girl below is going to have a wintery robin making a cosy nest in her hair. I know where I am with birds, and robins are most certainly seasonal. Here is a sneak peek at my design in progress...

Little sketch...



I'm also going to sell some of the necklaces I've been making this last month. I've realised that each one of these sparkly treasures has a story woven into it. Not only the unknowable secret stories of the old beads themselves, but the themes I worked around as I chose beads and centre-pieces.
It seems my years of studying Literature still find ways of working themselves into what I do, even idle beading...

Drawing Hero

Time for another hero!

This time, it is the mysterious, illustrative master known only as Rex Van Ryn...
I've always been a massive fan of comic book art of various flavours and Rex draws comics like it's easy...It looks like I'm going to have an opportunity to model for him soon, which will realise my dream of being rendered in a comic-book style.

Check out this blog of some of Rex's recent work on the graphic novel 'John Barleycorn Must Die'.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Witchcraft Museum at Boscastle

Magical icons of vulva (as you do)

Crystal Ball

Magical icons of phalluses (obviously)

Special cups for tasseomancy (fortune telling from tea leaves)

Many random herbs

Friday, 1 November 2013

New Drawing Hero!

Look at this work! I mean, look at it!

David Wyatt is my drawing hero of the week - possibly the month. He's a real drawing legend and I feel ashamed that I chatted to him like he was a normal person. I didn't fully realise who I was dealing with.

Just when you think you are getting somewhere, hey? Ah well, back to my sketch books....

Monday, 7 October 2013

Beads and Bulgarian singing

I have recently been given a huge box of old beads by my mother-in-law. It seems that rather than chuck stuff away, a couple of generations ago people actually saved things like broken necklaces.

These odds and ends can be reshaped by new fingers into new necklaces. I've been experimenting with including old bits of broken earring I've kept (just in case), bones that are too beautiful to leave whilst out walking and funny bits of tat that I don't recall the origins of (but that I cannot throw away. This problem is genetic...)

Seeing how much I liked the beads, I have now been given a whole treasure chest of unwanted jewellery, tat other people couldn't bring themselves to pass on and random bits and pieces from the past several decades...

A little Dartmoor pixie charm
A ring with hieroglyphics - apparently things like this were all the rage during Tutankhamun's posthumous tour of Britain  

In this chest was a locket from the Victorian era which belonged to my mother-in-laws Grandmother.
It always strikes me as endlessly strange that objects can time travel in this way. That I can hold something which has passed through so many hands - the maker, the seller, the original buyer, all those who have owned it in turn since - and know that in all likelihood it will outlast me. Sometimes this seems not only endlessly strange but unfair - why should stuff have more endurance than flesh? Why should a locket outlast the memories of a whole life?

Recently, I have been invited to join and try singing in a Bulgarian women's Choir - right here on the moor. I know...who'd have thought it? The choir is made up of not a single Bulgarian, but local women from various backgrounds.

Mokosh performing at the opening of Bellacouche's new home

We are taught by the wonderful Emma, who has classical training including that most mysterious ability - she can read sheet music. Through obtaining the music and listening to recordings, this group have worked out the parts and can now beautifully sing these songs. I'm not sure which are old and traditional, and which might be newer compositions, but the translations of some sound traditional to me. 

I love the idea that we are learning songs which might have been passed down through generations of people. Even though we are far from Bulgaria, it is moving that something in this music touches and inspires us - enough to spend all the time required to (try) and sing the complex harmonies and words. 

It seems somehow fairer to me that music should survive in this way, passing through time, from person to person. Not static and mysterious like an object, but alive and transformed with each new voice it encounters.  

Friday, 6 September 2013


I have been working on a big A3 bit of paper, covered in little drawings of masks. It is taking ages, mostly because we keep going out walking on Dartmoor. With such a beautiful Summer, it's been hard to do much that involves sitting indoors.

I have chosen masks from all time periods, countries and styles for no particular reason. I just drew the ones I liked the look of.

The plan is to scan these drawings and make a little book out of them. I like the idea of all these eyeless faces staring back from the pages.

I am including the masks we sometimes wear on our faces - the ones we form from our faces. I have been very aware of this recently - how often there is a gap between what my face is 'saying' and what I am experiencing. Often, we have to do this in order to function socially. Sometimes we want to do it, because it makes things feel easier. At other times it is a burden, and exhausting.

I wonder if it is a relief sometimes to don an actual mask, to be able to hide something away behind it? I imagine it could be calming almost, like a hawks hood, shielding us from the world.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Art in the Courtyard Cafe

These photos (taken on my phone) do not do these justice - here are some of my ladies framed by the excellent Suzi Maxwell of Silverhammer Framers in Chagford. She has recycles these frames, tarting them up, fixing the sizes etc and generally making them scrummy.

I am especially in love with how 'Cradle' looks in her new golden mount.

These are all for sale, if anyone should fancy one. I'll be putting them up on my etsy shop too.



'Bee Drawing'

'Babylons Daughter'


Friday, 26 July 2013

In which I become a capitalist

It's all rather exciting really.

I've opened an Etsy shop - see link to the left.

I will be selling prints of my work, so far priced £6 to £12, which I will send out to you with a little business card I made on my computer, wrapped in shiney cellophane.
There is also a double set of postcards in the shop for £2.50 (see pictures below).

I've also put up some of my originals for sale - I've not sold an original for a while, and I realised I've grown oddly emotionally attached to my work. To save me from this hoarding instinct (which will only end with me alone in a house full of art work and hundred of cats), please buy them off me.

Etsy is rather lovely. Lots of people making things. With their very own hands. I like that sort of thing.

Capitalist moment over. I will now go and draw.

Sunday, 21 July 2013


I have a mini-exhibition coming up in our local organic cafe. There is limited wall space, so as well as choosing a few of my bigger drawings to hang, I wanted to make some smaller images too.

I was thinking about why I love to draw people so much, rather than, say, houses or landscapes. For me, it is that people are such beautiful and mysterious creatures. You can talk with a person, you can touch them and laugh with them, but something about them remains always hidden, locked away and known only to themselves.
I think when drawings portraits or even in life classes, the artist has a chance to glean something about the subject of their attention in a different way. It is the same even in self portraits - it is an attempt to see yourself clearly or in a new way.

A person is never so locked into themselves as when they are asleep. Blind to the world, lost in a landscape of privates images, desires, nightmares, mundanity, joy...

These simple drawings are about dreaming. I have not attempted to draw the dreams, only the simple lines of the dreamer. As with all my recent work, the figure is unsupported, alone in space.