.....if you're a follower of the old nature mystery traditions of the British Isles that is! Yes it's almost Samhain, or more popularly known as Halloween. For pagans in the northern hemisphere, Samhain marks the end of the last harvest and the end of the year, as nature goes into winter, and all food and resources are stored to survive the cold months. So what has this to do with my art? Well, it influences my creativity somewhat. I've always found this a strangely fascinating part of the year. It was always a time of magic in my mind when I was a kid. Horror stories, scary movies and gothic novels never really were a part of this time of year for me when growing up. It was more about sprites, fungi, strange spirits and dare I say - faerie? The weird small folk who lived at the bottom of the garden! I was always drawing strange little characters, that popped into my imagination. The sort of characters that wouldn't look out of place in some germanic folk tale! Fast forward to nowadays, and I still feel the call of it now and again.
I've just completed two works that give a nod to nature, old ways and the turning of the year wheel.
"Fire festival" is painted using various waterbased and oil based paint. It has treatments of wood dyes and crayon, then pyrography is used to burn in the lines of the trees and other elements. Samhain is one of the fire festivals, and great bonfires would be lit, and the honouring of the ancestors would take place at this time of the year. Winter was a dark and dangerous time for many in ages long ago, and rituals such as Samhain were important markers in the cycle of the year. Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain all used fire in their rituals. The dominance of reds and warm colours are taking over from the green, as nature blazes before dying down. The shamanic figure could be an effigy of the male aspect of nature, the horned one also referred to by some as Cernunnos a fore runner of Herne perhaps.
There is a reawakening to old customs and the mysterious older spiritualities nowadays. This ties in with the huge movement towards protecting nature, the forests and valuable ecosystems. It is this that fascinates me as an artist, and which is playing a big part in my work.
"Memory of trees" is the second of these recent works. Again, this gives a nod to the changing seasons. Memory of trees could mean the memory they seem to have of changing and surviving with the seasons. It could also mean our memory of trees, as more and more seem to be hacked down in the name of "progress"! The autumnal yellow sunset, sees our woods become mysterious places of old memory. A small fire burns on an altar in one corner, where the mysterious spirals of life and inter- connectedness of life are carved. A mask of some possibly shamanic origin hangs from a bough, with a cascade of green mist pouring forth as a reminder of what was and will be, is this used to go deeper into some other realm? The white rod or spar on the left gives the viewer something to cling to from one realm to another. The wheel symbols hover like bubbles acknowledging the turning of time and season.
So, as you can see, a mysterious and otherwordly mist has infused my recent work. I am finding it extremely fascinating and enjoyable, as these works almost create themselves out of strange meditative states. One should never be afraid to try something different, go down a different path or through a doorway into something different. I have done so here, and it's incredibly exciting.
So, as the time rolls on, the wheel revolves, and onwards we must go down the path infront of us. Now and in age old tradition, we must remember our ancestors, get out the winter coat, and stay safe in these precarious times.