The movement of stones.

Let me tell you something, something about a stone.
I picked up a red stone in Druidstone, at the beach. I gilded it in the Roundhouse. By firelight, by candlelight, I added leaf to stone.
I walked, later, at Whitesands. I put the stone on the blue rock, in a place where once I found a seal’s child, born late in the season, resting.
Today, almost a week later, I walked the wide and lonely beach. We sheltered from the wind, Ivy, me, and Pi, and the hail, so sharp, then walked down to the end where the rocks are alive with creatures, and sculpted.
Walking back I looked in pools to see if the stone I had left the day before had been taken, by wave or human hand. It was gone.
I walked to where the seal child’s sheltered curve of sand was.
There I found a red stone, and thinking, that doesn’t belong there I lifted it and turned it. Faint on the skin of the stone, the traces of gold, from a labyrinth.
And even in that short time the sea and tides have smoothed its face, wiped away the gold, sanded some of the cracks.
The same stone.
How curious.

 

 

 

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Tarka the Otter; a small love story

 

When I was a child we had few books in my house.We used the library. My reading was slow, very behind my age, until I caught the trick of it.

One Saturday I took my pocket money to W H Smiths and bought a small paperback.

First published in 1927. Dense words on the page, hard for me to read, but oh how my love of otters took me down to the river bank, not in the anthropomorphic Wind in the Willows way, but in the submerged in the wild, deep swimming , swift hunting, tooth and claw way. Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers. With illustrations by C F Tunnicliffe. Seventeen times revised as a whole and rewritten, it tells the life of the river where the humans are a sideshow, usually bringing death. How I read it then I will never know but I think the book picked me up in its teeth like an otter cub and carried me through. And I loved those illustrations. Still do.  And the words are a prose poem of the natural world.

Now I have a new-old copy, the same as the edition I read, prompted to re-read by the inclusion of the book into the shortlist for The Nation’s Favourite Nature Book.

Am I proud to be on that list too? Yes. And also in awe of the company. Have I voted for my favourite nature book? Yes.

Which one was it?

Obviously not The Wind in the Willow, but it is a tale of the river bank.

You can vote here, at the Land Lines website. If your favourite isn’t on there I would love to hear what inspired you, stayed with you, or you’ve recently found a new book, one that you love, that will stay with you for life. Tell me.

 

 

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Auction lots no 7: a woman of quiet subversion.

The Lost Words took two and a bit years to make, from idea to publication. While I was illustrating The Lost Words another book of mine was in the making. With Lost Words I worked with Robert Macfarlane. He wrote, I illustrated. A partnership. Meanwhile James Mayhew took the words I had written for Mrs Noah’s Pockets and clothed her in the most glorious skin, bringing to light a different take on the story of the ark. You can read more about her here, and I urge you to watch the wonderful film of James at Tewkesbury Abbey, the seed of this book.

Now, Mrs Noah has more in common with The Lost Words than you might think. The Lost Words is in part an act of quiet rebellion, against a tidal wave of urbanisation of language. It is, I hope, a beautiful protest, and it is seeding in the hearts and minds and on the tongues of the many who would join us in celebration of the nearby wild. Mrs Noah, watching her husband building an ark, with intentions of tidying up the world a bit, goes quietly about her own subversive business. Never under estimate the power of a quite and creative woman, especially if she has a sewing machine.

I asked Mrs Noah if she could help us to raise more money for Jane Beaton’s initiative to place a copy of The lost Words in all Scottish schools. ( And I asked Janetta, of Otter-Barry Books, who has donated these two sets of galleys for auction.) The result is what you see below.

To bid, please place a comment on this posting. This auction will close 22nd Jan ( ish) unless I am out walking the dogs. Sorry if the process is a bit ramshackled. I have to action the comments, so it takes time, so if your comments doesn’t appear straight away that is why. As a result sometimes bids get tangled. The two highest bids will win a set of proofs each. If you win the auction I will ask you to donate the money directly to Jane’s amazing initiative to place a copy of The Lost Words in every primary school in Scotland.

In the past few days Penguin have thrown their support mightily behind Jane’s project by massively reducing the price of the books for her. This will now enable her to place a book not just in every Primary School in Scotland, but also into Secondary and Special Schools.

What can I tell you about them? Well, they are on beautiful paper. Some of the images, like the three below, are whole, double page spreads, which would look wonderful in frames, but…..

because of the nature of galleys, being how a book is put together, some are split.

You can see this best with Mrs Noah at her sewing machine.

 

These are curious and unusual things that are normally never offered for sale. They would be ideal for displays in school, for book nerds, or for people who just love James’s work. I love Mrs Noah. She is the woman I would like to be.

If you want a copy of the book you can get signed copies from Solva Woollen Mill. Hachards will have signed copies at the end of this week. All good indie bookshops should stock it, but if they don’t you can ask them to order it for you, and you can also order it from your local library.

Bidding starts at £50. All bids in £ sterling, but happy to post anywhere. Please share.

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Small fragile things

In the time between now and the finishing of The Lost Words I have been, odd times, here and there, gilding stones and placing them into the landscape. Sometimes by the sea, sometimes in streams, one in a castle. Here and there. No rhyme, nor reason for this.

In the gilding of these I am left with litter, a fragile thing, a tissue of gold leaf and paper. Some I have sent to people. They look quite lovely in a frame. These ones below I intend to use to try and boost the campaign to purchase a copy of The lost Words for every Scottish school.

If you want to be sent one then leave a comment below, and go to Jane’s Crowd Funder and donate £32.

£32 will buy 4 copies, for 4 schools. You can give more if you wish. Only the first 14  will get one, unless I gild some more, so count the comments above. I don’t sell the stones, for I do not own the stones.

Small and fragile leaves of gold, with spirals pattern enclosed. Some are creased from being wrapped around stones. I think their imperfections make them more beautiful.

Each one is different, and I am afraid I can only send out at random, otherwise chaos will ensue.

Each comment needs to be actioned by me, and I will try to keep on top of this.

Some, like the one above, below, were larger stones, so have 2 sheets.

I love the quiet peace of mind that comes from drawing these, carrying the stones, placing in a landscape.

I love knowing that other people sometimes find and keep them, sometimes just photograph and leave, sometimes move them.

I love that in Llanbedyr there is one still hidden in the bowl of a tree by a river. It’s been there for months now, watching the seasons change.

I love that there are some on the hill above where I live, hidden, that I can use them as markers for walking. And I know that some will be found and taken, and others won’t.

I love that some people get in touch to say they have found one, but others, finding, might never know where or why it was there.

The one below was left at Whitesands Beach today, at high tide. The sea smooth pebble came from Druidsden Beach.

If you would like one of the small and fragile things, then leave your comment and make your donation, and I will email you for your address.

Please share. Thank you.

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Auction no 6: something different.

These days I don’t tend to keep books. I pass them on. I like them to be living in the hands of readers rather than slumbering on my shelves.

Over Christmas I joined in the mass read of The Dark is Rising, that stemmed from a comment on Robert Macfarlane’s twitter account and was taken up by Julia Bird. Cosy by the fire I stated doodling in the book. Reading is a solitary experience unless reading aloud. I enjoyed this curious experiment.

Now I am going to offer my copy of the book up for auction to raise funds for the crowd funder to raise money to buy The Lost Words for Scottish Schools. ( In the event of the initiative not reaching its target I have an alternative charity for auction winners, but I also still have hope that the target might be reached.)

To bid, please place a comment on this posting. This one is going to be closed in a few days from now I think, unless I am out walking the dogs. Sorry if the process is a bit ramshackled. I have to action the comments, so it takes time.

If you win the auction I will ask you to donate the money directly to Jane’s amazing initiative to place a copy of The Lost Words in every primary school in Scotland.

The book is a paperback edition with cover by David Roberts and illustrations by Filipe Fernadez, and then added doodles by me. I bought it in Waterstones in Cheltenham.

 

This Auction is now closed.

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Auction no5: Finch. Teasel.

This is the fifth piece I am going to auction off, a fragment of things from my studio. It’s a curious way to tidy up. Still, to be honest there’s not much tidying being done. Some packing and posting, hardly enough painting. And I’ve been away for a few days, and also worrying that the target might not be met for the fundraiser, but then an alternative charity will be offered for those who have bid in that eventuality. But for now, let’s press on, see what happens.

To bid, please place a comment on this posting. This one is going to be closed in a couple of days from now I think, unless I am out walking the dogs. Sorry if the process is a bit ramshackled. I have to action the comments, so it takes time.

If you win the auction I will ask you to donate the money directly to Jane’s amazing initiative to place a copy of The Lost Words in every primary school in Scotland.

In the past few days Penguin have thrown their support mightily behind Jane’s project by massively reducing the price of the books for her. This will now enable her to place a book not just in every Primary School in Scotland, but also into Secondary and Special Schools.

This one is made up from 4 pieces of transfer leaf, 8cms sq each, and is the gold soul of a finch, in search of a charm.

Bidding starts at £32. All bids in £ sterling, but happy to post anywhere. Please share.

And The Lost Words has been nominated for, and shortlisted for The Nation’s Favourite Nature Book, so curious as ours is so young, but what company to be in. Please take a look at the shortlist. Such wonderful books. And vote if you wish. I voted for Tarka, a book I have loved long.

 

This Auction is now closed. Thank you.

 

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More than home from home

As the new year rolls in, and it becomes time to reflect on the old all I can think is, wow. What a year that was. The beginning was hard, hard, pushing to meet the deadline, shape and craft The Lost Words with the wonderful team at Hamish Hamilton, finding the right image for the cover, and then waiting, waiting, for the book to be published.

What happened next took me by surprise. A different kind of hard work followed and how lucky we were to be supported in our travels by great friends who made us welcome, took us into their homes, by bookshops who so fully and utterly supported the book. Wonderful, but also such a challenge. Come December I was ragged. Then my mum went into hospital for a hip operation. And Christmas….. well, not my favourite time of year.

So, trying to get back to normal now, find time to paint, write and think.Over Christmas I painted a fish, read by the fire, walked.

She is 110 x 55cms and is for sale, unframed at £4500, watercolour and gold leaf.

She’s called, She Loved to Walk and Would Often Think on Her Feet.

Then I ran away.

To Druidsden. And here we stayed in the Roundhouse. You can see it, in the top right hand corner of the next photo. Perched on the edge of the land. Through the window you can see the rock where I go to write. In the evenings we watched the moon rise. The wind battered us. We walked on the beach. I edited my manuscript to the end. The nights seemed somewhat out of time and dreams came and went. The fire was glorious, and the bathroom! I love that bath. I painted gold on stones and left them on the beach. And one on Jane’s grave, which no one must take.

 

Water, stone, ripples, movement.

A post shared by Jackie Morris (@jackiemorrisartist) on

There’s a stone in the stream in the photo below. The one from the instagram post above. It was found in less than 24 hours, but I think the one by the waterfall will remain as a gift for the sea.

The dogs slept and ran and played and were quiet, and I was a little worried about Pi following her nose off the cliff but we were careful.

This one went onto the beach at low tide at twilight, so little chance of being found before being claimed by the sea.

 

Stone-still, waterfall.

A post shared by Jackie Morris (@jackiemorrisartist) on

And I decided to regain an old habit of writing just a few words each day, but this time posting on twitter. Hand writing as it’s becoming a lost art. With a hashtag of  EveryDayaFewWords. So join me if you wish. Either thread onto mine, or tag, or hashtag. No more than 50 ever. 25 even better. It’s the advice Michael Morpurgo gave me, that Ted Hughes had given him. Just a few. Every day. It changes the way you think.

 

 

Home again now. Cold outside and hoping it will be again tonight, though I worry for the birds. Wrens will gather in bundles to sleep, sharing warmth.

I’ve work to do.

But first I would like to say a huge thank you to Beth and Angus and all at Druidstone Hotel for making our stay such a wonderful one. Warmth, good food, peace and space and love. Thank you.

 

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Auction no4: Teasel Finch in Search of a Charm

This is the fourth piece I am going to auction off, a fragment of things from my studio. It’s a curious way to tidy up. Still, to be honest there’s not much tidying being done. Some packing and posting, hardly enough painting.

To bid, please place a comment on this posting. This one is going to be closed in just 24 hours from now I think, unless I am out walking the dogs. Sorry if the process is a bit ramshackled.

If you win the auction I will ask you to donate the money directly to Jane’s amazing initiative to place a copy of The Lost Words in every primary school in Scotland.

In the past few days Penguin have thrown their support mightily behind Jane’s project by massively reducing the price of the books for her. This will now enable her to place a book not just in every Primary School in Scotland, but also into Secondary and Special Schools.

The third piece to be auctioned is this: Two pictures of the same piece in different lights.

This one is made up from 3 pieces of transfer leaf, 8cms sq each, and is the gold soul of a finch in search of a charm.

All bids must be in pounds sterling. I am happy to post anywhere in the country.

Lovely mention of Jane’s initiative in Guardian today from Patrick Barkham

Starting price for this one is £100

THIS AUCTION IS NOW CLOSED.

 

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Auction item no 3: The gold soul of a finch in search of a charm.

This is the third piece I am going to auction off, a fragment of things from my studio. It’s a curious way to tidy up. But to be honest there’s not much tidying being done.

To bid, please place a comment on this posting.

If you win the auction I will ask you to donate the money directly to Jane’s amazing initiative to place a copy of The Lost Words in every primary school in Scotland.

In the past few days Penguin have thrown their support mightily behind Jane’s project by massively reducing the price of the books for her. This will now enable her to place a book not just in every Primary School in Scotland, but also into Secondary and Special Schools.

The third piece to be auctioned is this:

It’s tiny, two sheets of gold leaf, 8 cm squared, each sheet, left over from a large watercolour painted for Number Seven Dulverton. The small gold soul of a finch in search of a charm.

Starting bid must be £50 And all bids must be in £. But I am happy to post anywhere in this world. The auction will close on Tuesday evening, around 6 pm if I remember, and then I will find something else.

 

This auction is now CLOSED.

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Auction no 2: Gold finch

Over the next few days I am going to auction off some fragments of things from my studio. It’s a curious way to tidy up.

To bid, please place a comment on this posting.

If you win the auction I will ask you to donate the money directly to Jane’s amazing initiative to place a copy of The Lost Words in every primary school in Scotland.

Hope to have some great news about this in next couple of days.

The second piece to be auctioned is this:

Four pieces of transfer paper on which resides the soul of a finch in flight. She was originally going to be part of the cover for The Lost Words, but ideas moved on.

Fragile things, but framed they can look quite lovely.

THIS AUCTION IS NOW CLOSED.

 

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