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.
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.
- Narrated by Bethany Porter
- Music by The Bookshop Band
- 18 tracks (including two new songs)
The Unwinding hardback