I was working on the largest canvas today, hoping it will be complete in time for my show at Newlyn Art Gallery. I have also been looking at another recent one, a young deer raised in the air, an adult hind above, a young human below, perhaps she is reaching for the faun, perhaps she will place it on her head as a crown? There are also blue flowers, they seem important, I am not sure why.
I spent much of the weekend going through over 2000 digital photos for my show at Newlyn Art gallery. They are now ready to be installed at the space in a month’s time. It has been interesting seeing how the garden, the plants, and the light has changed; also, how my photography has changed. I have become more comfortable taking photos from different angles,i.e. using my body more when taking pictures.I have also decided on the final shots for the short film about the sparrows in the garden – two taken at dusk, and two at dawn. In the dusk shots a beautful cloud slowly emerges into the brilliance of the last sunlight, and in the dawn sequences the birdsong is glorious, the light very slight but almost imperceptibly growing. Looking at the photos and the films I became more aware of the endless cycles always going on in Nature, overlapping and interconnecting with each other.
I have just returned from taking the dogs for a run on the beach – lively sunny morning after terrific stormy night.
The garden has bursts of summery joy when the sun shines, and it is wonderful. The flowers are even more brilliant in their last days; yesterday a butterly came, and still bumblebees visit. Nerines flower gorgeously, and drifts of cosmos. Taking out the summer crops makes me a little sad, but then when I spread the compost I think of sowing seed for winter salad and I feel better. Betsy loves playing with empty flowerpots, and charging around the garden. In my studio the plant imagery is coming more strongly; the nourishment we receive from them is more evident to me.
I was in London on Friday, after a very early start and long journey.On the train I read some of the Little Flowers of St. Francis. I met with Laura Gascoigne at the British Museum, we had an illuminating visit to the ‘Horse’ exhibition which finished today. In the show I loved the very early works about horses, drawings/scatchings and stone carvings, but I was most moved by the film clips showing horses doing their utmost for their riders, and the riders showing their appreciation to their beautiful and generous- spirited partners.
Laura is one of the panellists at the discussion around my show, which will be held on January 26th, 10.30 – 1pm. We took tea at a quirky and very friendly internet cafe/camera shop near the BM, talking until they closed. Afterwards I drifted towards High Holborn, where my brother had very kindly booked a sumptuous hotel room for me – what an oasis that was! I found a great book in the suite, on archetypal symbolism, where I found this poem by Rilke…
Three days working hard in my studio, on small pieces, but each intense and concentrated. The ecological balancing act coming through strongly. The experiences in the Church of San Francesco, in Sansepolcro, with the miraculous Holy Face and the little Church on top of Isola Maggiore, Lago Trasimeno, very much with me in my studio.
One day whilst walking through a forest we came upon an enormous pile of fresh dung. It was literally crawling with blue-black shiny beetles; I have never seen anything like it before. On another day, whilst taking a rest (it was very hot, my pack was heavy) we sat down at the edge of the track, and as I sat, my eyes unfocused, I slowly became aware of a large pinkish insect beside my boots. It dawned on me that it was a praying mantis. I haven’t seen one since biology lessons at school, many years ago. We spent many minutes watching this extraordinary, seemingly ungainly insect. It looked at us too, with it’s large round eyes either side of it’s head.
One path past the Eremo di Cerbaiolo, the lower, gave us a good view of the settlement. To one side of it the markings in the rocks gave the impression of an eastern-looking face, with a trident on the forehead. Circling above the rocks were great dark broad-winged birds: eagles.
Two weeks ago on holiday in Italy we walked to a tiny, ancient hermitage perched on top of an enormous rocky outcrop, about 25 km north of Sansepolcro. It had begun life as a Benedictine monastery before the Franciscans took over the care of the place. Twice we walked up steep dry rocky paths and on the second day, after waiting for an hour in a pocket of shade, the care-taker arrived, two heavy bags of figs in his hands. I was a little disappointed that Chiara, the caretaker who we had read about, and who had lived there before with her legions of goats, was nowhere to be seen. The tiny cemetery had three fresh well-tended graves.
Entering the Eremo was like crossing the threshold of a magical land, or a tardis of some sort. The courtyard was beautiful, with an enormous clock, an ancient well, and the saying ‘pray and work’ high upon the wall. The chapel felt as if the air was concentrated with prayer, coolness and silence. You would never imagine you were on high ground surrounded by eagles and precipitous ledges. We stayed a while in the sacred atmosphere. As we were leaving we read a clipping about the death of Chiara, two years previously. There were many pictures of her with her goats; in most of the pictures they appeared to be climbing her legs, or gazing with love into her eyes.
We paid our respects at her grave, and beside the cross was a photograph of Chiara with a black goat, it’s face pressed against hers.