Jackie Morris/ website etc
Things I love
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- Artique, Tetbury. A small piece of India in the Cotswold Hills.
- Bears: 30 years of painting them.
- Book List.
- A Hole in the Sky
- East of the Sun, West of the Moon: in between the lines.
- How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes
- I am Cat: Walking through dreams.
- One Cheetah, One Cherry
- Something About a Bear.
- Song of the Golden Hare
- The Cat and the Fiddle
- The Wild Swans
- Walking with Cats ( Working title)
- What’s all the paperboat stuff about? Or: Living with a Playful Heart.
- Books in their natural habitat.
- Day of the Desk.
- Dragons in Torquay Museum
- Exhibitions and Festivals etc.
- Fishing in a river a thousand miles away.
- Mary Bear and Friends.
- My paintings in their natural habitat
- The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan.
- The House of Golden Dreams.
The Wild Swans is officially published in October. Before then there will be two events, one at Solva Woollen Mill, where I will talk about and read from The Wild Swans as well as revealing some of the work I will be doing then. Details for this will follow and the date looks like being around mid September, a beautiful time to visit Pembrokeshire.
On 3rd-4th October I will be in Dulverton in Somerset. The 3rd sees the opening of an exhibition of my work alongside the beautiful glass work of Tamsin Abbott and porcelain work of Eleanor Bartleman. On 4th there will be a special event to celebrate the launch of the book. More details will be coming soon from Number Seven, Dulverton. Places are limited. Tickets are £20 to include the price of the book.
To celebrate I have painted an image, not included in the book, a special ticket. Not sure how many places there will be. See the blog post on Number Seven’s site for details. The image is of Cygfa, swan brother helping Eliza to collect nettles.
When Nicola Davies said that she had booked herself in to the Druidstone Hotel for a few days I couldn’t help but gatecrash her serenity. It wasn’t that Nic was indulging herself in a holiday. She’s had a long term injury which has given her pain for months, years, followed by a ‘simple operation’ that turned out to be anything but. So, a few days out, by the sea, thinking, writing, reading, playing with ideas.
I’m not sure what my excuse was, but in a way I feel that I am in recovery too, from years of working really hard, being on a treadmill of book after book, from which I have stepped sideways.
So, I said to Nic that I’d asked Mister Stenham to look after the cats and Bella, and was coming along too, and we could meet up for supper, or whatever. I had a book to write,(‘haven’t we all dear’) and two books to read, so would keep out of the way.
What followed was a small slice of heaven. Writing, thinking, playing with ideas, chasing unexpected stories with hope in heart as Ivy chased seagulls along the shore. And Nic read to me, told me stories, ideas, and sang with the sound of the waves as accompaniment.
Below shows how determined Ivy was to uncover a crab. “She’s the kind of dog that, if we found a body in the woods, as dog walkers do, I would first find it because Ivy was eating their hand,” I said. Yes, she’s that kind of dog. Spider crab legs munched and crunched, she tidied the beach as much as she could.
And we separated to work and below Nic sits, chasing wolverines while the tide comes in. and I read City of Dragons, chasing images for covers. ( Hard work, but someone has to sit in the sun and do it, so it might as well be me) And in my small house beside the sea I dream of an old friend and am shushed to sleep by the turn of the tide, and waking in the night smell the salt on the air and see the full moon over water.
Well, I had news of a new project of great secrecy and the news was good so I thought we might celebrate by buying Ivy a velvet coat and a crown.
And we celebrated with Dru Cru too.
…what manner of beast could make a footprint so huge?
Ivy became the sandiest dog in the wide wonderful world.
Oh, and tell Seren and Osian to take care of those dragons.
A short walk to the hilltop, but once again rewarded with a snake!
In the lane it was warm, sheltered from the wind, heavy with fresh elderflower scent.
And then, for the second time in two days an adder! Small again, and this time very different colouration, sleepy in the sunshine. I managed to get two photographs before the dogs and cat caught up, but he moved away hissing an angry warning and leaving a scent that fascinated the White Cat.
Early morning walking. Needing to tidy my head to focus on work.
I decided that the best thing to do would be to look at things from the top. So I walked up the highest hill I could find.
Feel blessed for having seen an adder.
Yesterday I posted pictures on my blog of a small lead bear who has sat on my desk for years, travelled with me to events. I said that I had always thought he had lost his piano, but Jane, in a comment pointed out that he was sitting at a singer sewing machine making a patchwork quilt, because it gets cold in the winter. So obvious.
And so, a new painting arrives, accompanied by the steady click click clicking of the turning of the handle on the sewing machine as bear poses for me. Perhaps even a story. And meanwhile bear thinks and plays music, solitary bear music on a concertina.
Keeping my ears open and listening.
The third isle in the supermarket, next to the cereals.
For the first time in years I have finished all the work I have to do. Well, not quite, but there is nothing that I can move forward with until I hear back from publishers. I have a manuscript with one publisher, two proposals for new books with other publishers, am waiting for guidance on cover art, but everything else is done. I cannot honestly remember the last time I was in this position and the first thing that seems to have happened is that I went to sleep, and couldn’t wake up.
The over-all feeling isn’t one of panic. That was what I used to suffer years ago. Fear that I would never again get asked to do any work. This time what I feel is tremendous relief. Time to play. I have managed to drag myself from the depths of dreaming and out for walks and in to doodling with watercolours. The first thing to be done is to play with bears. For months a sketch made while doodling, chatting on the phone has hung above my head.
There is a joy to be found in working like this. Not having to think about a book, layout, design, editors, marketing. Just painting mindless nonsense for the pleasure of moving some coloured water around on a piece of paper.
There are more doodles above my head. A fox tea party. And a bear who has patiently sat and watched me painting is rather pleased to have found himself in a sketch in my sketchbook. I have always thought he looked as if he were playing piano, but had somehow mislaid it. So perhaps I will paint him one, though I feel a polar bear would be more inclined towards a harpsichord.
So, I wait, to hear about foxes and lost words and trees and numbers and dragons. And in the meantime I will walk and paint and write and think and sit and watch cloud shadows move over land and sea and the wind blow through the dog’s coat, and the flowers come and go. Soon there will be meadowsweet.
After a weekend struggling with the usual monsters, thinking that this year I would have to apologise to Help Musicians, say that they would have to use an old design because I couldn’t draw, had no ideas, can’t paint anyway, I quietened. I went to bed with half an idea and let dreams take me. I came up with a much quieter image than any other previous design and unusually it came fully formed with its own title, The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow, and then I went about the business of playing with rhythm and harmony in colour, shape and design.
Yesterday I was much distracted by a Russian company who are using my work and that of many other artists for fraudulent purposes. More of that later. Trying to maintain a sense of calm music in the mind I listened to Robert MacFarlane talking about The Holloways and The Wild Places on the wonderful archive of Hay Festival. And this morning I went for a short walk in sunshine with cats and dogs before breakfast.
Painting the snowflakes over the image the brush made the hushed noise that snow falling in a quiet place makes.