The Unwinding

By Jackie Morris

A beautiful new pillow book, from the Kate Greenaway Award winning author Jackie Morris.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Playing with The Silent Unwinding

The Unwinding must be printed now. It went to press last week. And it now has a German and a Romanian edition. And I have been continuing to play with The Silent Unwinding proof pages, learning lessons.

I encourage others to just doodle in their copy when it arrives, not be scared, and then sit in front of a spread and worry about what it will look like, when it is finished, rather than enjoying the process of creating. But once the pen moves I find a way, and seldom have a finished image in mind at the beginning, prefering to find a way forward these days.

Yesterday I offered a spread for sale. There is a local group of people, who, recognizing a need to provide food for the many in the St Davids area who are struggling, have gathered together to form a food hub for St Davids and Fishguard area. I know food comes first, but I worry also about all those who relied on libraries to get books for their children. So I contacted Jerome Flynn, as it was through Jerome that I heard of the initiative, and asked, if I could get books, could they be added to the parcels of those with young children? He said, yes. So, I've bought some copies, and yesterday, to add to these, I offered a spread from The Silent Unwinding, doodled on, for sale for £250 to buy more. 


This one is sold now, but today I have another. I wanted to do something with my father's dip pen. Before I left Broadway, just after dad's funeral, at the start of lockdown, I found a tin. I thought it had a bottle of whisky in it. Better than that! Dad had turned it into a pencil case, made a section for pens, and underneath was typewriter ribbon! One of the pens was a dip pen. There are also another couple of 'Venus' drawing pencils, with the carckle glaze, that I remember from when I was a child.

In a lovely pot that Tamsin Rosewell of Kenilworth Books gave me for ink, I tipped into it what I thought was gold ink. And tried the pen in a corner. It didn't work. It's not ink, it's paint. The pebble on the top is to stop it from drying out. Also I think I may add water, try again, maybe with a quill, see if I can make it work like ink)

I found, instead a bootle of black ink. There is just so much 'stuff' in my studio after a lifetime of working as an artist. This ink flowed and wasn't absorbed too much into the paper. Even now I had no idea what I was drawing. 

I thought I might start by taking a line for a walk, but instead I looked at the ink bottle, and found a dragon, and then discovered that the dragon in question was partial to tea. And so I drew, letting the ink play. And all the time I was listening to the utterly marvellous Nest Collective Earth Day, Singing With Nightingales. (Headphones recommended for this one.)

So, this is a line drawing, with ink and a wash of gold paint, The Tea Dragon. The pages are two proof pages from The Silent Unwinding, which is why it has all the colours on. And I want to offer this one for sale for the same cause. £200 will buy 20 books ( I am buying them from Graffeg, and so have an author discount. Some of the books will be mine, but also I will add some by Nicola Davies and Cathy Fisher, some by James Mayhew and Joyce Dunbar and some by Karin Celestine. So it may be more than 20. To buy the piece, at £200 minimum email me. I will tell you how to pay and get your address to send the tea dragon to. Graffeg will send the books to Solva Woollen Mill and Jerome will pick them up from there to take to the packing hub and out to families who are not only stressed by the 'social isolation' but also by the incredible difficulties endured in a place where the space between the rich and the poor is so utterly obvious. We live in a place where at night in the winter, at some times, there is not a light on in the evenings inside houses in a street because all the houses are second or third houses, I refuse to call them 'homes', while rural poverty presses hard on others. Huge empty houses, small homely cottages. A marker of our unequal society where some have so much while others struggle to feed their families.

St Davids is quiet in this time of lockdown. The beaches are left to the curlew and oystercatcher. I confess that there are times when I cannot keep away, especially at low tide. And I have walked at the edge of the sea. And it is beautiful. And I am increasingly aware of my utter good fortune to live in this place of larksong and curlew. I take offerings of gold and stone.

On this day the air had a curious quality. Walking with The White Cat later, his eyes were the colour of the squill.

I've been thinking on how, in years to come, centuries maybe, this will be a time of myth. Thoughts arise, pool into the pencil, gather as lists. This is written using one of the Venus pencils, belonging to my da, and I do not wish to waste any of the markmaking from them. This is, I think, a curious short story.

Email me if you would like The Tea Dragon for £200. Never be afraid of a blank page. Learning creativity can ONLY be done by getting on with it. Some would say it is a mistake to be writing about these times. I say it is my part of my job, a way to try to understand, an attempt to take back the language of it. Those who seek to govern talk about a 'war' on the virus. I feel that part of the problem is not seeing with the imagination. Not learning from the past. Not carrying lessons to the future.

I've been continuing to knit.

And The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern is the most blissful harbour in which to rest and travel in this curious time of bee-quiet and birdsong. I love how my knitting matches the book cover so well.

I have a short piece about Hope in this book, edited by Katherine Rundell for The Literacy Trust.

Keep an eye on twitter, instagram, my blog, for more pieces to be offered for sale from The Silent Unwinding. 

Thank you for following this through. My hope is that you are finding peace in your hearts and homes.

I am hoping that soon I can show you what The unwinding looks like when you hold it in your hand. And I am going to send a Silent Unwinding to Erin Morgenstern to say thank you for the glorious time spent in the pages of her book of bees and swords and keys and cages and the Keeper and the Harbour.



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Kathy Jones
 Kathy Jones says:

Ah! All so magical Jackie, from your knitting, to the tea dragon by way of the beach and your da and round to the lovely gift of books to those families and your story about these times. How strange anyone would say we shouldn’t write about these times! Surely especially those who write well, must do so? Thank you. Kathy xx

posted 29th April 2020

Maria Lewis
 Maria Lewis says:

I sit and listen in the quiet and read your words and they resonate. Your da’s box and it’s contents all so lovely, and The White Cat’s eyes - I’ll think about it all for a while. Stay well Jackie and thank you for sharing.
Love your knits, your choice of colours are so pleasing - I do crochet and find it very calming. Today I cross stitched a bee.
Best wishes x

posted 29th April 2020

Jackie Morris
 Jackie Morris says:

There will be crochet involved in this also. Eventually.
Thank you both x.

posted 29th April 2020

Dell Hollingsworth
 Dell Hollingsworth says:

I always love your updates Jackie, but this one especially so. The beautiful landscapes, your da's box and pencils, your lovely inkpot and dragon, and your story/myth about The Time of the Great Quiet (I can see another book...). And your advice on not fearing a blank page, but just getting on with the doodling. I've been taking art classes for several years from a wonderful artist/calligrapher, and we 10 recurring students (mostly middle-aged women) have become close friends. The most recent class ended right before the shutdown, and our teacher decided to continue with us weekly via Zoom. It has been a godsend... we comfort and inspire each other, share what we're making, trade ideas, and laugh a lot. I am gradually learning to just dive in and take a line for a walk, and you are always an inspiration. Take good care. (Oh, I ordered my copy of The Lost Spells from Anna today!) xxx

posted 30th April 2020

Sam Burns
 Sam Burns says:

I find your words uplifting. They give me hope and take me to an 'other world' reality of infinitive inspiration. Thank you.

posted 30th April 2020

Genevieve Wren Black
 Genevieve Wren Black says:

Jackie thank you for this blessing you have written. What you say is so true. I live in rural, coastal Wales and we have "houses" all around us.
Thank you most especially for the encouragement to begin upon a page. I have spent my entire life surrounded by artists ... mother, father grandfather, sisters, son. It is so intimidating that i just hardly ever do. Bless you for that encouragement. I do believe that ALL of us, somewhere beneath the protective covers, are artists just waiting patiently to be invited to come and play, like a shy child that waits outside the circle of friends. And bless you for speaking your kind mind.

posted 30th April 2020

Johanna Wood
 Johanna Wood says:

I live in Yorkshire and also have 3 'empty houses' opposite. Please write the story of The time of the great quiet........

posted 30th April 2020

Shona Fraser
 Shona Fraser says:

How wonderful to find your da's box of pens and pencils. I have a small box of my dad's model-making tools and even though he passed 25 years ago now I still get great comfort and a sense of closeness whenever I use them, more so than any trinket or photo.
Your words about this time are so beautiful, especially about the animals and listening to the silence. Thanks you for sharing these - we need memories of this time that aren't filled with numbers and accusations.

posted 30th April 2020

Matthew Scott
 Matthew Scott says:

Thank you for this Jackie. Reading your updates, and seeing the images you share, brings me a time of quiet and peace, and reflection. I'm preparing my mind to write & draw in my copy of "The Silent Unwinding"; to push past my 'don't make mistakes, you'll spoil it' inner voice. I love your 'short story'. I too am very conscious of my great good fortune in having a home larger than I 'need', in a place where I can walk into close-by woods and onto hills. A couple of days ago the air was so bright and clear, looking South West, that I could see the mountains of North Wales. Go well, and thank you again.

posted 30th April 2020

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