I have to say that I hold Robert Macfarlane entirely to blame for what you will read next.
For a while I have had in my head a desire to paint the twenty-six otters of the alphabet. Why? Well, in the Willow spell there is a line,
“but you will never sense our sap, and you will never speak in leaves,”
And also, at The Foundling Museum I drew an otter, in pencil, but then said,
“The thing is, I love pencil, but when it comes down to it liquid is my language”
And I think perhaps it is my truest mother-tongue. The language of liquid. For are we not all, mostly water?
So, it was not leaves I wished to speak, though I would love to understand the slow time language of trees. Rather, the language of otter. And wound around this is also my struggle as a child to learn to read. And the fact that we have been sent many a message from teachers and parents about ‘reluctant readers’ and how they have cleaved to our book.
I struggled to get the alphabet to sit in my head. Struggled to find a way to draw these figures I was show, to relate them to words. But I got there in the end. Many don’t.
So, let me introduce you to the twenty six otters of the alphabet, who came first in small sketches.
They have twined and twisted in my head for a while now, and the few people I have talked to about them have looked bewildered and changed the subject.
Today I drew them, in sumi ink, with water from the river beside Solva Woollen Mill, where otters swim. There’s a dipper there too, and kingfishers. Eels run the weir, pushing upstream and sometimes a heron hunts at weir sill.
I want to paint all 26 letters as big pieces also. This will act as my key, and my aim is to write Robert Macfarlane’s otter spell using the twenty-six otters of the alphabet. Hopefully The English Stamp Company will help me with this. Just seeing now if a set of stamps can be made to enable me to use them to write with.
And I also wondered whether to auction a word, or your name, painted rather than stamped, in sumi ink, in otter? The size would depend on how much the bid is, how long the word/words. A name, a word a phrase, in ink, and the language of liquid. And the money would go to one of the many crowd funders for The Lost Words, or be split between a couple.
This auction is now closed.