Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone

By Jackie Morris

A pillow book of poems, dreams & stories typed on sheets of gold leaf.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

The Unwinding

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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Etho Burrow
 Etho Burrow says:

Currently I'm waiting on another Unbound book to arrive - it's been shipped out, so hopefully it'll be here within a couple of days. It's called Anthracite, and it's very different to Feather, Leaf :) I can't wait to read it. I'm also re-reading Contagion by Teri Terry, which I haven't read since I bought it.

posted 14th July 2021

Marnie Shaw
 Marnie Shaw says:

Really looking forward to your book, when it is time. I am just finishing Moby Dick which I have been meaning to read for years. It is amazing!

posted 14th July 2021

Donald Robertson-Adams
 Donald Robertson-Adams says:

I can see you are whetting our appetites for this publication - still keen though. I am currently reading: A Little History of the English Country Church by Roy Strong, Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (from his A Scots Quair) and Our Mutual Friend by Mr Dickens - all interesting and demanding in their own way; but I am retired so have more time than most. Each is retained in a different room in the house. Does wonders for keeping the brain alert.

posted 14th July 2021

Jackie Morris
 Jackie Morris says:

Marnie, I really want to read Moby Dick..... I will get there, eventually.

posted 14th July 2021

Janina Byrne
 Janina Byrne says:

Ah, you are so right about unlocking and unmasking. I write from my hammock in the garden, where I’m resting and awaiting a PCR test result. We’ve been careful and are double-jabbed but husband tested positive last week and now I’m unwell. Gives me a chance to finish “Our Endless Numbered Days” which is so beautifully written. And dabble with my watercolours. Take care everyone.

posted 14th July 2021

catherine melser
 catherine melser says:

the gold leaf is so very beautiful - and the book of birds sounds wonderful.
I think it is grounding, special and exciting waiting for a book - there is so much instant gratification and speed in this time - waiting for publication and hearing of the stages involved is a reminder that good things really do take time.
I read Moby Dick many many moons ago - and am waiting to start reading Moby - Duck - the story of 28,800 plastic ducks lost at sea from a container ship .............

posted 14th July 2021

Pamela Barone
 Pamela Barone says:

I got a big book, a compendium of noveLos by Trevinian. The volume is falling apart & I will repair it before I pass it on. So, reading these old novels about cold, rainy, snowy places while basking in summer's heat.

posted 14th July 2021

Paula Symonds
 Paula Symonds says:

Hi Jackie great to hear the busyness of your life. I am teaching early years children the language of nature and they bring feathers in everyday with interest and questions about birds; it’s so lovely. Tomorrow I will be taking my Big book of Lost Words and reading and showing the magnificent paintings; just love this part of the year with the children as they grow in strength of character ready for year 1. I am reading Mrs Death Misses Death quite slowly due to being incredibly busy at school at the moment! Am looking forward to having a summer break ☀️ Can’t wait for your book to be ready; something to look forward to ❤️

posted 14th July 2021

Anita Sams
 Anita Sams says:

Hi Jackie, Thanks for the update on Feather Leaf. You have to be the busiest person I know, though I know you are loving every minute of it after the doings of the past year. I'm now reading a book "birdsong" by Don Stap, which is the story of the study of birdsongs through the ages, and is the most difficult book to lay down that I've read in a long time. I'm more than eager also to lay my hands on your new book on birds, as soon as I can. Feather Leaf first, of course. :-)

posted 14th July 2021

Beverly Spencer
 Beverly Spencer says:

Thank you for the update. My sister sent me Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

posted 15th July 2021

Mel Bale
 Mel Bale says:

Great to hear what you’ve been doing. I’m sure the wait will be worth it. Plenty of books on the go as usual but the standout one at the moment is The Heeding by Rob Cowan. Highly recommended!

posted 15th July 2021

Mel Bale
 Mel Bale says:

More than happy to wait for the book, I’m sure it will be worth it. Plenty of books on the go at the moment, the standout though is The Heeding by Rob Cowan, excellent, check it out!

posted 15th July 2021

Kathy Jones
 Kathy Jones says:

Hi Jackie. Thanks for the update. I’ve got behind with them so reading in reverse order :) At the moment I am reading Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake, which is about fungi and such things. Currently reading the chapter about lichen. Fascinating!

posted 2nd August 2021

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