”I arise today through the strength of heaven, light of the sun, radiance of the moon, splendour of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of wind, depth of sea, stability of earth, firmness of rock.”
John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Jake and I spent time in August exploring the wild beauty of Northumberland. We both loved painting outside.
”If you go out for several hours into a place that is wild, your mind begins to slow down, down, down. What is happening is that the clay of your body is retrieving its own sense of sisterhood with the great clay of the landscape.”
John O’Donohue, Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World
During our time in Northumberland we visited The Holy Island of Lindisfarne on foot. Lindisfarne is an island that can be reached by car but we chose to walk. At low tide, a two mile causeway attaches the island twice daily to the Northumbrian coast. Earlier travellers sometimes crossed by coracle.
At the end of the seventh century, one of the greatest works of English art was created in the damp and draughty scriptorium of Lindisfarne. One man, Eadfrith, copied out the four gospels in beautiful manuscript and illustrated them with decorated pages of amazing intricacy. He used 258 pages of calfskin vellum, ink made from soot bound with egg white, quills from seagulls’ feathers and materials that included green malachite, blue lapis lazuli and red dye from insects. The ‘carpet’ pages before each gospel are made of abstract patterns, spirals, ribbons, animals and birds, the whole design in the form of a cross. I loved exploring the history of the island and enjoyed developing a series of paintings whilst in the area.
Tree of Life
I have been invited by Rev Diane Thompson, Team Vicar of All Saints’ Church in Emscote, Warwick, to design and deliver a project exploring the theme of the ‘Tree of Life’. The pupils and staff of Emscote Infant School and All Saints’ C of E Junior School will work with me to create a free-standing Tree of Life comprised of hundreds of drawings, collages and cyanotypes. This will be displayed in October as an installation in the church for the whole community to see, along with documentation recording the children’s ideas, feelings and reflections on the importance of trees in our lives. Since my own childhood I have been deeply inspired by trees, and, along with the children, hope to learn from taking time to stop and reflect upon their beauty and significance in our lives.
This Summer I have been clearing out the studio and have put some small works on paper and a few oil paintings into the Lever Arts Shop. Several pieces have already sold but some are still available.
”The call to the creative life is a call to dignity, to a life of vulnerability and adventure and the call to a life that exquisite excitement and indeed ecstasy will often visit.”
John O’ Donohue
I have recently completed a commission for a client who got in touch, during lockdown, to ask me to create a piece for their new home. It was wonderful, after months of working on the canvas, to host her for a ‘real life’ studio visit here in Birmingham last weekend. The client already owns a number of my paintings and completely trusted me to develop the work over a period of months, freedom that I relished. Meeting up was a really joyful experience and I was delighted that, together with the commissioned painting, she chose to purchase six of the smaller studies as well.
If you are interested in commissioning a painting please contact me.
Van Gogh Creative Quiet Mornings
Together with Becky Morse-Brown (art therapist and spiritual companion), I have offered a series of online Creative Quiet Mornings over the last few weeks. We held three separate mornings called ‘Lighting up eternity in the midst of life’, inspired by the life and paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. The title ‘Lighting up eternity in the midst of life’ came from the Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen’s description of the impact of Van Gogh’s life and work. Prior to becoming a painter, Van Gogh worked as an art dealer and missionary, spending some significant years living and ministering amongst an impoverished mining community before moving to the South of France where he painted more of his famous works. Drawing on many of Nouwen’s insights, we reflected together on Van Gogh’s spirituality, especially the qualities of authenticity and compassion which so deeply characterised his life as he searched for his true vocation. The mornings included input around the theme, opportunities to work creatively in silence and, for those who wished to do so, time during the session to share reflections with one another.
If you would like to be added to the list to receive information about future Creative Quiet Mornings please contact me.
‘Dance’ - Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
‘Dance’, a large-scale painting on paper, was made as part of my work as Artist-in-residence at the Birmingham Conversations. The Conversations in 2016 brought people of all faiths and none together to discuss issues affecting the city. Having been on display in the Faith Gallery at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, it is this month being returned to its owners the FNC Charity (fncbham.org.uk).
The title ‘Dance’ captured the energy and vibrancy of living in a diverse city, and now I also see it as expressing something of the cosmic dance that mystic Thomas Merton has written about;
”No despair of ours can alter the reality of things; or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join the general dance.”
For more information about
the Birmingham Conversations see this short video - https://vimeo.com/175722012