Wednesday, 14 July 2021
Strange times we are living in and through. The rescheduled Unwinding retreat was cancelled due to covid restrictions, as was the book signing, but we had hired a big house in Dulverton, the amazing North Moor House, and Chris, Davina and I had loads of work to do, on films for Spellsongs and for a new project, coming soon with Unbound. So we tested ourselves and travelled to Northmoor.
John had sent me the edited, re-shuffled manuscript of Feather, Leaf. Progress on this is slow as we are waiting for Alison to begin the design work. There will be more to report soon, on Feather, Leaf and on this new creature. And I will write about Northmoor soon, on my journal. It's an island of peace in a sea of trees and even has a beech though as you can see it's spelled in a different way.
I've not updated for a while, because I've been working on the Book of Birds, and then this curious new Unwinding, where we made the best creative use of the time and the space. I had taken my typewriters with me, and did write a new Unwinding that sings alongside the Christmas Card design for Help Musicians. Also, other snippets were written, but mostly I could feel my mind resting. I played with watercolour in books, painted some small foxes that will be for sale through Seven Fables, and played with stone and leaf and gold.
And I have left behind a trail of signed books, from Seven Fables in Dulverton to The Old Chapel Gallery. And I now find myself in the most peaceful of places, in a valley in Shropshire, in the home of the most amazing artists, with sunshine, birdsong and the hum of insects, resting in the peace of swift flight and martins.
It was sad, frustrating, to have yet another event cancelled. I begin to get a kind of cancellation fatigue, and then I remember I am still alive, and the world is beautiful. As I say we made the best of things and I hope to have films to share soon. Chris and Davina have put a newsletter out that includes a couple of short pieces penned by Chris and typed by me. They took so many beautiful photos.
The Wild Swans and East of the Sun West of the Moon are being printed as I type and will be in shops soon. You can still order direct from Unbound, and there will be signed copies from Solva Woollen Mill and Seven Fables.
Meanwhile I continue to slip back in time, rediscovering old paints and liberating them form paintboxes with water and brush and now becoming fascinated by quills and dip pens and inks and writing with paint.
I miss my friends, but don't feel government advice to be either safe or wise. So be careful out there folks. We made it this far. I look forward to theatres and cinemas and eating out and all those things, but relish every breath I take. Life's short enough without hastening the demise by unmasking and partying on.
I've a bookmark to make and a book to pass on to a friend. Ive just finished Liz Hyder's 'The Gifts', publishing with Manilla Press in Feb 2022. It's an extraordinary weaving together of the lives of four women. One is an artist who loves the names of colours, another a botanist who loves the shapes of plants. One of it's fascinations is the blend of myth and magic, city and country, urban and wild. There are threads that spin a yarn and make this book a page turning success. I would say for any who loved the Essex Serpent, this is one that will sing to your soul. For myself, I found it to be a dream of a book, one that I could lose myself in and escape from these curious times we live in. There's a darkness to it also, but also a fierce light, passion. It is utterly absorbing. I used the book to protect me from the football. It worked.
I'm sorry Feather, Leaf is taking so long, but I guess when you work with Unbound, and by funding the book you are doing just that, it makes the process of publishing much more transparent, and the understanding of the various stages, from conception of an idea, to placing with a publisher, to crafting then designing and printing to publication. I hope you will find that it has been worth waiting for.
So, in the mean time, tell me, what are you reading? I'd love to hear, especially if, like me, you escaped from football into ink and paper.
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