Wild Folk: Tales from the Stones

By Jackie Morris and Tamsin Abbott

An exquisite collection of shape-shifting tales from two magical artist-storytellers.

Monday, 10 July 2023


I guess it is always hard to know where to begin, how to organise thoughts. Perhaps best to say first, welcome, to Wild Folk, a work is progress. Recently, in between events, I paid a visit to Tamsin's studio. We spoke more about the book. I'm chasing a story at the moment, finding the words in between knitting, and Tamsin has been working on double page spreads for the book. She has almost caught up with me so I need to give her more words. This is hard when moving around so much. 

I love this piece, with its incredible details.

The day before visiting Tamsin I had performed on stage with Seckou Keita as part of teh Ledbury Poetry Festival, reading from The Unwinding and Accordion Books. The event took place at Hellen's Manor, and there was something about it. Would love to repeat it, having learned much. Reading around Seckou's beautiful music, painting while he plays, there was a magic to it.

Shapeshifting is a theme of Wild Folk. Some who have followed our path so far might have noticed I have been doing my own shapeshifting. Curiously this began the Wednesday before we made the film that heads our project. I want to share this here, now, as it may help other folk. 

I'd been to see a surgeon, having endured the pain of arthritis in my knee for long enough, along with the continuing restriction of movement. I love to walk, and don't like being in pain, like many people I guess. Walking was always part of my work methods. But over time my walks have got less and less. So, I went to see a surgeon ( sadly having tried many times with NHS I was told that I was too young to have a knee op and that I should come back when I couldn't walk- presumably so I could be put on a 6 year waiting list). And the surgeoun said yes, he could do a partial knee replacement, but he would advise weight loss to make most advantage of new knee. And he said that he understood that this wasn't easy for a woman of my age ( should have said person) but that I should try. What he was not aware of was two things. I have friends, and they are magnificent. And I am pretty obsessive. 

I'd gone to the appointment with Anna Grime from Solva Woollen Mill. Infact Anna had sat me down and made me dial the secretary and arrange the appointment. On the way home she told me about a diet she had been doing, the Blood Sugar Diet. There's a recipe book that comes with it, which cuts out the need for weighing food, and helps plan menues for a week. The main premise is, calorie controlled, low carb, high protein. The result for me has been astonishing.

Within a couple of weeks the weather inside my head began to change. I felt as if my brain had been unswaddled from a duvet of sugar. I loved the food I was making, found that I really wasn't hungry, realised swiftly how much I had been over eating as a way of coping with a low level of depression I had learned to live with, caused by my inability to walk as I wished, and which constantly fed itself with 'treats'. The weight began to fall from body, but more seriously from mind. My senses became hyper aware. Sense of taste, smell, event sight, and so alive, and not sluggish, of mind, body, spirit. Seven months later, having stuck fairly closely to the program, but also had odd steps sideways ( no one could resist the truffle chips at Browns in Laugharne) I'm moving so much better, walking more each day ( heart not struggling, lungs so much better). My knee isn't better, but the rest of me has shapeshifted so significantly, and I am hoping that once recovered I can walk as I used to. It is years soince I have been to St Davids Head. There's places I really wish to return to. And new places I want to explore.

I love the irony of physically shapeshifting while writing these stories. During this time I have also returned to knitting, and am currently knitting a baby jumper for a tiny human, who will also need a welcome to the world and new stories. The tiny human in question is Hannah and Henry's child. A grandchild. Makes me smile. Hannah's book is now out in the wild and Henry continues to work on his Phd, and they are both the most marvellous, beautiful and astonishing folk.

In the two weeks before the op I am trying to get as much work completed for The Lost Birds as I can, to walk with Pi and watch birds. I am also working on two new Accordion books, one Hare, one Hound, and the second is a celebration of sorts of the life of my beautiful Ivy. I hope to make it a book for anyone who has ever loved and lost, but also, about her. 

Jumping back a little, when I was in Ledbury I paid a visit to the wonderful palace of delights that is Tinsmiths to sign a few of the broadsheet pledges, printed by Martin, put together by Phoebe. This was something I wrote a few weeks back during the time of the coronation. I wanted to write a pledge I could make, at a time when I felt there was no room anywhere for discussion, debate for those who might not possibly be royalist..... the pledge has been printed 3 times now. I do love letterpress. The linos were cut in my garden, to accompany the words. I have ideas for more, including a blessing and a welcome to the world. But if you want to buy this, or others from the press, follow this link.

I am loving finding my way back to myself, feeling stronger, more energy, more alive. 

Hannah ( daughter) Tamsin and I will be at the Byline Festival in Dartington. We also hope to head to Ashburton Craft Mongers while in the area, to sign books. Hannah is also doing a talk at Dartington Trust on Thursday 6-7 about Move Like Water. I think there are tickets left for this.

I will be bringing my knitting on this trip away. One project is deep green, like moss. The tiny human jumper is coloured like the sea when the sky is pearl grey. I also hope to have found words between the stitches for a tale of a selkie, which I hope to read on stage. 

Thank you for reading this. Would you tell me, how is the weather, both outside in your world, and inside your head. x


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Jane Kuesel
 Jane Kuesel says:

Good morning from Connecticut! Thank you for the update, for sharing your joy in the creative process. Shapeshifting is a good word for what we need to do throughout our lives, but especially now as we look forward with such joy to the next generation coming, strengthening and , yes, rebuilding, where needed physically and mentally, and identifying where to use our gifts and where to seek out to see or revisit. Walking is essential for me, as well, and I wish you well on your shapeshifting journey to a new knee, a new family member, and some good long walks.

posted 11th July 2023

Bodenham Nicola
 Bodenham Nicola says:

Hi, Diolch… loved reading your update and it’s good to hear that you feel physically and mentally rejuvenated! Pembrokeshire weather is quirky these days, who’d believe that we’d ever pray for rain in Wales!!! Your creativity focus and output ( painting/ writing/painting/knitting/ walking ) is to be celebrated. I too have a bad arthritic knee - but the dog walks , views of the ocean and Cardigan Bay sustain me. I’m trying to write… I have copious notes and and much in my muddle- head but struggle with getting it all in some kind of order and onto a page. I feel it will before I leave this realm. .. I’ll be happy if I just leave one book behind.
I’m Fostering a blind dog in a few weeks so preparing for her, although retired I work in an organic market garden to make ends meet.. ( where I talk to the crows) and I’m expecting visits from grown-up children and my grandchildren-( what a joy they are..)
Love your knitted bootees and jumper- exquisite sea-colours.. I’m rubbish at knitting so I send mine mini nature videos of ladybirds,wrens - I’m obsessed with wrens., wildflowers, bees on foxgloves and of my old rescue horse munching grass and hay.
Might have to buy Hannah’s book ..
Good luck with the knee and how exciting to welcome a new life.. ar hyd yr llybrw x

posted 12th July 2023

Eddy Jones
 Eddy Jones says:

Beautiful Jackie! Shapeshifting of body, shapeshifting of heart and mind. I wish you all the best for every step. XX

posted 12th July 2023

terri young
 terri young says:

So many congratulations to Hannah, Henry and you. Weather here is changeable both inside and outside.

posted 12th July 2023

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