Remembering Lark

I remember when the email came through with Lark, for The Lost Words. I remember reading it for that first time, sitting in an armchair by the window at Moundsey. I remember thinking, it was odd, because in a sense the word ‘astronaut’ brought the human in to the book in a way it hadn’t been before. And I read, re-read, as you need to do, until it sinks into the soul.

And it came with notes as to where it was written and why and how it connected to a deep depression, not Rob’s but a close friend. And haven’t we all at some point, at some age, felt that deep rift that as humans we fall into? And isn’t, at the moment, ever, and always for the human condition ‘the world more full of weeping that we can understand”.

To lift with the lark, it takes strength, it takes muscle, it takes such work, and to sing at the same time? How utterly perfect to see Lark in this way.

And I remember the first time I heard Little Astronaut, from the Spellsongs team, sitting on a sofa at Monnington House in January of this year. I’d missed the first singing of it, the shaping, but I felt something happening in the house, a crackle like static electricity. An intake of breathe, a sigh. Caroline walked in, hand over mouth, crying a little. So I sneaked into the room and sat quietly and listened as they ran through again. And how hard it was to breathe. How very hard.

How can music do this? Cut straight to your soul? Give you permission to grieve? To feel? Connect you with the human condition and leave you cleansed?

Working at home now, and listening to the Spellsongs master tape, the lark has come a long way from where it was written, to where it was read, and how it was shaped in to song. The cd is available by pre-order from Folk by the Oak. It comes with extraordinary sleeve notes and includes new artwork from me, new spells from Robert, wonderful photos from Elly Lucas, words from all the makers involved. Alison O’Toole has made it into a thing of great beauty. The inclusion of photos from Monnington and the stage open up the making of the work, invite you to enter and share the process. And Eva John and Caroline Slough are working on school notes in the hope that it will deepen the experience of The Lost Words for children.

There will be an LP too, for those like me who love vinyl.

And guess what? It won’t fit on a cd shelf! Because it’s the size of a small hardback book.

( I tried to get them to do the record/lp in pro, but Adam said we had to draw a line somewhere!)

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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4 Responses to Remembering Lark

  1. Jane M Rudder says:

    The Stolen Child is one of my favourites ever since I had to learn it for my elocution lessons. My parents were horrified I was getting a Midlands accent but at least it opened my mind to lots of wonderful poems.

  2. Wendy Brown says:

    Hello Jackie. Apologies for this strange request, but I’m an illustrator working on a picture book and I need some advice on using gold in a painting so that it can be printed by a publisher. Is there a way I can contact you to ask about how you painted gold in the illustrations for The Lost Words please?
    Many thanks,

    • Jackie says:

      If you google my name and gold leaf and look on youtube you will find films. The way I learned to do it was by getting a book on gold leaf from cornellissens and then just trying.
      It doesn’t scan well, so you need a special scanning technique. And it’s difficult to print.

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