After teaching my workshop (please see previous post)I spent two weeks on Iona working in the hostel at Lagandorain (the hollow of the otter) doing domestic work and tending the gardens. I walked most days to the beach with a wheelbarrow to gather seaweed to dress the currant and berry beds. For the rest of each day I worked in my nest-like room making drawings and writing; or cycling in the fading daylight to Abbey, Chapel or the beach at the back of the ocean. The hostel is surrounded by fields of close-cropped grass and a couple of dozen of small and wiry black Hebridean sheep. To go anywhere you must pass through a sheep gate or three, and at night ones’ dreams might be accompanied by the percussion of sheep – bottom or horn on corrugated iron.
At dusk I would walk or cycle to the abbey and St. Oran’s Chapel and then spend some time being quiet and drawing in the darkness. For water I used my saliva with watercolour sticks and then I developed drawings from these inchoate scribbling and writings.
Here is an example of my writing made in the chapel:
I sit beside a sealskin come to wrap me
Bird Spine rock
Spine Flower Ribs
Rock Bones Rock
Stem Blood Blood
St. Oran’s Chapel
Making My Earth Skin Bone Foot
with my face in the flame
Drawings with a teacher
here awake, every night shedding my skin
Breasts come down to carpet
the waves, quieten seas, comfort
Vessel which glides
As Ice and Blood
Stone Jug Put Throat Song
bone bird bolos
Lily blessure bud
blond sea breathe
I made a drawing of a horse turning to watch a birth, asking when the return to water will come… the blue tapping legs of lobsters stir my dreams, the horse turns on her side now, revealing her tender belly; she is pre-occupied with flowers gathering at her mushroom-coloured muzzle.
I gave a talk about my work in the Hostel to Islanders. I began with this text from the I Ching:
“The mare is strong, tireless and incomparably fast, and she is acutely sensitive to the subtlest cues. When you have a mare’s constancy, you will be steadily loyal to the truth, and always alert and responsive to guidance.”
Then I read aloud a piece I wrote two year ago, about the horse I knew so well:
“Thinking of Phaedra, of how the breath of the horse creates a kind of womb for me; holds me aloft, intact, supported, whole. A womb of air, a light-filled womb, perfumed, smelling of a horse’s grassy green breath.” And about how Iona used to be known as the Island of the horses/horse people so it is right that I should feel at home there. And this time many of the drawings which emerged were of horse forms, maternal, loving, protective.
In another drawing the horse weeps dark tears.
A man brought a plastic tray of fish for the suppers of women. I watched as they gathered in a circle around the fish. Amazed at the beauty and strangeness of the lobsters (which I have only eaten once, my father bought one just before he died)…..
I wrote about the lobsters.
When blue legs tap
which world responds?
Your blue legs are thin, hard, cool.
Blue legs little tubes of night sky, deep sea darkness you rattle in my world
A visitor you, one afternoon amongst women’s voices, a man’s hands and pale sun.
Strapped here in a plastic tray,
With your barrel-red body and your knowing of other worlds, I am sad for you.
Is the link to this…very excited to be part of Dark Mountain…
Can’t wait to read the poems! Congratulations
And Now They Range
Karl O’Hanlon’s first pamphlet is an immensely attractive thing. He treads a fascinating line between a cool, modest – at times austere – phrasing and an engagement with the passionate physicality of English on the tongue and in the ear: ‘Mystique of keratin / becoming forest’s altarpiece / then blood-whoop of a jay: / shattered obsidian // scattered into black elms.’ It is this contradiction, this ability to marry a technical restraint with an exuberantly overflowing language, together with his wide-ranging concerns for history, family, art, love and nature, which drive the poems throughout this lovely, and hugely promising, short collection.
Toby Martinez de las Rivas
Karl O’Hanlon grew up in Purdysburn, County Down. He studied at Georgetown, Washington D.C. and has taught in Orléans. Recently, Karl completed a PhD at the University of York. He has worked as an editor for Eborakon magazine and his poems have appeared in Agenda, Stand, and PN Review.
And Now They Range is Karl’s debut, and a very impressive one. It has been printed and section sewn at Palace Printers in Lostwithiel on Mohawk Superfine papers and features a cover and frontis by artist Kate Walters.
Before my Iona workshop I had two days on the Isle of Mull to prepare. Here I am on the way to Tobermory, standing in the rich colours of orange-green seaweed.
The scent of sea was strong and clean. I stayed at a beautiful old Manse called Frachadil near Calgary Bay.
I made some drawings beside the bay, a favourite haunt of otters, bisected by dykes, tuning into the geology, the sea birds, the weather, and a mummified seal I found myself to be sitting near; graceful even in death, it’s form describing an arc, rear flippers appearing to cradle an egg.
The following day before crossing to Iona I saw four eagles and a black-winged heron.
On the Island I gave a workshop to 9 participants. We worked with the spirit of place, stories around St. Brigid and St. Columba; tuning into the special pristine qualities of the North Beach near the hostel by laying on the sand with closed eyes and making notes and drawings about the experience; we used the shamanic journey to divine the exact focus for each person, and we also used this technique for vision or clarity around particular personal questions. I invited the group to let go of ego (as far as possible) and to respond with enhanced bodily sensing to phenomena. I spoke about the ancient quality of the rock here, the Lewisian Gneiss which goes back to the early years of this planet (and is ten times older than granite).
We worked also with the dream, the intention, and experimentation with a wide range of high quality drawing materials supplied by Pip Seymour.
At night we walked to the beach in silence and with focus. I invited the group to each make small journeys to the sea each day, and to sing to the sea. On the last night we gathered on the beach after walking in a procession, and we had a very moving time singing our songs to the sea, as a group. This is one of the old Hebridean ways.
We worked with deepening our matrixial awareness to make drawings/monotypes and to explore our inner lives/develop our antennae/sensing organs through using our hands and materials.
It was a wonderful warm group without any shadow. Here is some feedback…
Your ears that listened to my poetry. Your eyes that watched my drawings. Your stories. Your presence. Your work. Betsy. I miss the island. The light. The seaweed. The shells and stones. The black sheep. The views. It’s a good feeling: missing. I like it. Thank you Kate for being my first shamanic teacher ever. And thanks for combining it with artwork and the feminine. Thanks for your good care and loving attention. You’re an excellent teacher in so many ways! ” JvO
I will spend some time on the Croft at Lagandorain working in the garden and with my drawings. I plan to make some night drawings in St Oran’s chapel and Iona Abbey. Walking at night here it is silent and feels precious, intense.
I’m thrilled that my work ‘My Dog keeps watch when I pray‘ has been chosen for the poster and the invitation for the Open exhibition.
My work was awarded the Mount Art Prize:-
We’re sponsoring Black Swan Arts Open this year, and as part of that we gave away a £100 framing voucher to go towards the cost of a bespoke frame. We were invited to a sneak preview of the exhibition ahead of the opening last week, and we got to choose our favourite piece. This was one of the hardest choices we’ve ever had to make! We loved everything, and found it really hard to select even ten favourites, let alone one. But with the pressure of time, we had to make a decision, and went for Kate Walter’s amazing painting, My dog Keeps watch as I Pray.
Here is a link to an interview I gave in February 2015 (although I no longer teach at St. Ives School of Painting – only at Newlyn School of Art)
I had some very lovely and generous feedback from people who attended the talk I gave at ICE in York. I began my talk by reading from Ursula LeGuin’s poem ‘The Artist’ – about going to the ‘gap’, the space between…. which is what I feel I do when I make work. I called my Powerpoint ‘The Body as Sensing Organ’ which refers to what I discovered about my body during my residency on Iona last Winter. I also spoke about the poetry of Mallarme and Rilke, both of which help me to understand my work as an artist.
I’m hoping I will be able to give another talk and perhaps a workshop/’hollow bone’ work at Dean Clough at the end of my show’s run there around January 22nd. Here are details of the exhibition:
‘Bird Making Womb for my Consciousness’
|Kate Walters: Punctum and Plume
October 15th 2016 to January 22nd 2017The Guardian’s review of Kate Walter’s 2012 exhibition at Newlyn Art Gallery opened with the line: “It’s not every day you find an artist who claims their home is in the body of a deer…” and went on to refer to her ‘fusion of cave art, classical mythology and a rainbow-tinted hippy sensibility’. In the exhibition catalogue, Richard Davey was more consanguineous: “Reflecting the ancient tradition of the Sacred Feminine, Walters’ paintings are spaces of nurture, birthing pools in which her insights are embodied”. Among Kate’s many art qualifications she has also received formal training in ‘classical shamanism’. Her packed CV would flatter any ONE soul involved in either international art, mysticism or animal husbandry. She is as likely to be talking on ‘expanding consciousness through the act of drawing’ as she is to be discussing her residency in a bothy on Iona; as liable to be quoting Goethe, Griselda Pollock or (as in the title of this exhibition) Barthes. What you get in the gallery is a pictorial blend of animal, human and natural forms in oils, watercolours and monotypes that look to address a sensibility beyond the eye. Chagall is invariably invoked, but Kate Walters is more accurately part of a tradition locally represented by Ted Hughes or the late Derek Hyatt.
Here are links to the ICE talks I’ll be part of next Friday 14th October in York.
I’ll be speaking about my life as an artist, my work, what feeds my practice….
On October 1st I braved the weather and donning waterproofs, rucksack and easel, I made my way into the Gardens at Tremenheere. (Nr Gulval, Penzance TR20 8YL)
Here are a few images from their website:
and here are a few of my photos:
I spent some time sitting quietly tuning into the feeling of the place. I needed to settle, be still, and wait. I could sense the hands of the people who have worked that land over centuries. They were gnarly, old, bright and light also, weaving their fingers in amongst the plants. They shone through the damp morning.
I had bought a postcard book, I thought I’d walk and draw, making a little document of my afternoon. The rain and mud I wanted to work with changed the scale. I made notes, further drawings.
“Bird-Woman is now available, folks! Here is a link to the Shearsman site. Also available at Wordery or The Book Depository. Many thanks again to Kate Walters for the wonderful cover image. I’ll be launching at The Bakehouse in Gatehouse of Fleet, The Radical Book Fair in Edinburgh and hopefully The Project Cafe in Glasgow…Also, somewhere in Dumfries soonish! Will post dates in due course. :-)” Em Strang