Just in case you think I have stopped using this site, it’s not that I have stopped just that I seem to spend to much time on “the dark side”…Facebook that thief of time …have no fear I will be posting again……
At the moment I am sitting here in Lamorna village hall listening to the dying sounds of summer. It seems an extraordinary thing that the summer is nearly gone and here I am once again only just now catching up on my “Blog”. As for the sitting here in Lamorna, well that’s because it’s the summer exhibition of “The Group of Friends” arts cooperative and we have returned to our favourite venue the village hall at Lamorna.
We love this place, built as a schoolhouse for the local children at the end of the 19th century it has a tradition of association with artists going right back to its opening when they often used to use it to preview their works before they went off to major galleries around the world. The area in those days had two sides of society that came together to make it the place it is today. On the one side; local farmers and “gentlemen” with their workers, alongside quarry workers busy exploiting the local granite and on the other “the artists” and their bohemian ways! The artists came from all over to paint here because of the quality of the light and obviously the cheapness of the accommodation and to say the least the two sides of society the Cornish and the artists were as different as chalk and cheese. Anybody who might be interested in that era (in this area) would enjoy reading the book “summer in February” now about to be released as a film, it really does give a great impression of the way things were here before the tragedy of the 1914-18 war when so many men went away never to return.
But the arts tradition continues and the area is still full of working artists and our group is just one that enjoys being able to continue the tradition of using the “Old School” now the thriving centre of the local community as a village hall. So here we are and as for the dying days of summer, the sun is shinning and the sounds of the bee’s gathering the last of the summers pollen fills the air, only to be drowned out occasionally by the sound of pigeons cooing and crows cawing. And sadly the awful sound of a chain saw screaming one morning as one of the ancient trees close by was being removed after having toppled unexpectedly overnight. Just glad it wasn’t one of the ones alongside the hall! All a rich background of sounds as we wait for the day to start and the first visitors to pop in to our “pop up” gallery and hopefully get their wallets and cheque books out, thought even if they don’t it’s a pleasure to talk with them and listen to their comments. The show has had people visit from all over the world and they all love it and enjoy the fact that they are carrying on part of the tradition of viewing art in this iconic place. Of course this year with, the present world wide financial situation, its obvious that their isn’t the amount of money around that there normally would be but everyone is pleased to be selling even if its not as much as normal and who knows the next three days might be busier than ever……so now its time to put out the signs, throw open the doors and welcome the hoards………………….
It’s been a long time since I was last on “Wordpress”, (six months in fact!) not that I have forgotten it just the fact that some how since the demise of Windows live there seems to be little interest in blogging either by myself or the old “Windows Family”. I think the fact that I spend time, far to much time, on Facebook might be the problem…..rather than the meal of blogging more like a series of quick snacks without a great deal of substance.
So now its time to rectify six months of snacking and try and see where the last months have taken me…..
OK where to start that’s the question, the winter Solstice has come and gone, the equinox has passed by and the seasons have changed and here we are at the start of the summer. We have had an exceptionally dry and warm spring causing the issuing of drought warnings followed by so much rain that the countryside seemed in danger of turning into a lake and now the temperatures have started soaring again as the Olympic flame passed through here on its way from Lands End.
Just sitting here at the moment I can’t think of a lot that may interest people that has happened in the last few months. There have obviously been highlights that stick in the mind, visits, shows and the like so perhaps the highlights are the thing to go for as I write and who knows other things may spring to mind!
First of all the annual visit to Cornwall of the Spanish tribe, my pagan friends who make a yearly visit from Spain to visit the ancient sites of this far western peninsular, beginning to think that as my hair turns grey and age sets in that I am an ancient sight myself now. But I digress our day out on the moors started with the mini-bus turning up (early in the morning) in my neighbours driveway, much to her consternation as they all spilled out singing and dancing. After pacifying her, and getting them all back on the bus, we set off (with them singing at the top of their voices) for the first stop of the day a much needed coffee sitting in the sun at Lamorna cove only a few miles from my place. It never fails to bring a smile to people’s faces seeing the little cove with its small beach and of course the welcome café…also of course it gave them all a chance to get the kinks out of their legs after traveling with another impromptu dance routine.
Then on to the (Merry Maidens) the ancient stone circle of Daens Maen just a little way up the road, the energy of the group was amazing as they danced a snake dance weaving in and out of the stones, round and round nineteen times finally stopping in the centre for a short ritual. Such an interesting mix, Gracie the High Druidess of the Basque region of Spain, Terry the Druid of Avebury who was tagging along with the group and myself plus the Spanish group and a couple of Americans! Interesting the mix of styles and language, but surprisingly we were all able to follow each other where we were used to working in (almost) the same style.
Then on to Boscowen Un Stone circle, another quick ritual then away to find food and to enjoy the delights of the town of St Just, well at least to enjoy the delights of the fish and chip shop! Gathering everyone up from the various pubs they seem to have disappeared into we then set off to somewhere I had not taken them to before the iconic Crown Mines, Cornish tin mines clinging to the high cliffs just above the Atlantic Ocean that quietened them down. The sun was setting into the sea and time for photo’s and reflections, plus of course by the time they had walked up the steep cliff path back from the mines the energy levels were considerably lower. And so the day was drawing to an end as we set off across the hills towards my cottage where we said our goodbyes for another year. Though some of them it appears might be making the trip back later in the summer for some more in depth searching of the area for places that we have talked about but not been to on their trips.
Time for the show
The weeks went by with us both working away, Lavinia working on her spinning wheel and knitting her designs and me in the studio and all too soon it was time for the first joint exhibition of the year, the middle of April and time for “The Group of friends” arts cooperative spring show. With a few problems to surmount, like Lavinia being rushed to hospital with breathing problems only days before the show, having to find a replacement for our ceramicist at short notice, we manage to open on the first day turning a bare hall into a gallery in record time. Phew; months of work now there in front of the public, and there we all were like Swans looking calm on the surface but paddling like mad below! Three days ahead of us and waiting for the public to come in, wondering if in fact that anyone would turn up. Not to worry though as right from the time we were ready, in fact before we were due to open the doors, people seemed to turn up in droves. Quite fun really watching them walk round and talking to them about the various exhibits, while I painted to pass the time, in fact many came back more than once to chat and (thankfully) buy bits and pieces. Everyone sold, and even though I didn’t make that much in the way of money, it was a wonderful three days and we are looking forward to our next show (in Lamorna) in a few months time. link to show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FISwonJnStw
Well that’s it really, looking back I am sure there were many more things that have passed by, many more things that I have probably forgotten and lots that I will probably remember later…but that’s all for the next time I “blog” hope fully a bit sooner rather than later. Lots of adventures and shows ahead in the next few months, so I better not leave it to long or I will probably miss them as well……
I recently found this copy of a talk I gave about Yule to the local Pagan Moot (hidden away on my hard drive), as yule approaches I thought it was a good time to resurrect it.
Yule as a season is today defined by calendar and date but by custom it is a continuation of the old midwinter festivals that both preceded and followed the Winter Solstice when all the families and tribes would gather together to will the return of the sun and ultimately the fertility of the land.
We cannot presume to know what the native customs of our land were back in the dark times of pre recorded history and now only have the remnants of Germanic and Nordic custom to reflect on as part of our present day celebrations. Even with those we cannot truly understand the pressures of the survivalist life style that many lead and how this coloured their lives and festivals. What we do know however is that it was a time when tribes and families would be gathered together to celebrate the winter solstice to will the return of the sun and ultimately the fertility of the land.
We with our modern lifestyle not truly bounded by the seasons are still affected by the dark times. Deep within us there is installed, though many would deny it, that primitive fear of the dark times that the sun will not return to the glory that is summer. So we can understand, if only slightly, the release of celebration that there was when the old people’s realised the days were lengthening and the sun was higher on the horizon each day.
The time of Yule with the northern races would have also been a time when the surplus of food they had stored in the summer and autumn would have began to deteriorate so practicality would have ensured that the surplus would have had to be eaten – so became the custom of Yule feasting.
It would also have been a time of relaxation, the fear of attack from distant tribes would have receded as it was a time when travel would have become difficult due to weather and terrain so tribes with little outside work or threat could relax together feasting and drinking within their encampments.
At a time when the land turned its back on the people and slept, they could gather together and reflect on the past and the future; a true celebration of the cycle of nature and a reaffirmation of the continuation of life, with the festival at the Winter Solstice and the days leading to the start of the new years work.
In Scandinavia, from time immemorial, Yule has been a time of peace and charity. In Norway, work had to be reduced to a minimum, and no wheels were to be turned, for that would show impatience with the great wheel in the sky, the sun. (A symbolism of waiting for the solstice festivities perhaps?) As part of this time– called Julafred, or Peace of Yule–neither bird, beast or fish is trapped, shot, or netted nor hand raised in anger or war.
So when the Christians came along there was already the basis of Christmas as we know it today
Obviously We all know that the modern Christmas is a bringing together of all sorts of customs from around the world, even our modern picture of Santa Clause is from a coke a cola advert from the 20’s and 30’s but some of the customs are far older and what we have are the faint memories of more pagan practice. I shall mention just a few to add to your Christmas and Yule entertainment
Where did Santa come from?
Well if you scratch the surface of Christmas folklore in Scandinavian countries you will find images and traditions that probably go way back. This is because Christian missionaries didn’t reach these countries until the 10th and 11th centuries, so the old traditions had longer to settle in and that’s where good old Santa has his roots even the Russian St.Nicholas (as most of modern day Russia was started by the Russ that is Norse in Russian!)
There’s the Julbock or Julbukk, or Yule goat, from Sweden and Norway, who had his beginnings as carrier for the god Thor. Now he carries the Yule elf when he makes his rounds to deliver presents and receive his offering of porridge. Thor the all father as Father Christmas not quite what the modern conception is!
From Iceland comes the legend of the Yule Cat, who dines off lazy humans. Those who did not help with the work of their village to finish all work on the autumn wool by Yule tide missed out on the Yule reward of a new article of clothing, and they were threatened with becoming sacrifices for the dreaded cat , the cat was of course sacred to the goddess Freya.
Starts to hang together now doesn’t it Santa and Mrs Claus the God and the Goddess Thor and Freya!
Signs of older traditions of nature worship abound Evergreens were cherished at this time of year as a natural symbol of rebirth and life amid winter whiteness.
Of course, there’s the tree, originally in many places, they were hung upside down to represent the goddess.
And as for holly that was particularly prized to decorate doors, windows, and fireplaces because of its prickliness — to either ward off or snag and capture evil spirits before they could enter and harm a household. Bit like flypaper for hobgoblins and trolls…. Oh one wonders were the ideas for the holly and the Ivy of Christianity came from!
Many of the ancient traditions surrounding Yuletide are concerned with coping with the darkness and the evils it was thought to harbour, and helping the return of light and warmth
The most wonderful festival for me is the feast of ST. Lucy or Lucia now celebrated on December 13th. Though it used to be on the night of the winter solstice before the calendar was changed; now Christianised as a festival of some ancient virgin who died rather than get married to a pagan,. It rings so much of its original beginnings as a Solstice festival. Where now a maid is crowned with a crown of greenery and lit candles attended by youths dressed in pointed hats with stars on and other maids dressed in white as a sign of innocence gives out saffron buns as presents ,yep the Cornish are not the only ones to like saffron buns.
Think of it the representative of a goddess, as a bringer of light handing out food to those worshiping her! So before I pass on the talking stick let me just read this translation of an Old Norse poem regarding Luciadagen
The Feast of St. Lucy:
And I will stay awake throughout the longest winter night
And dress up in a red silk sash and flowing gown of white
And serve my parents with warm sweets and sing for their delight.
And I will wear upon my head a crown of fragrant green
Ablaze with tall white candles, with golden candle-gleam,
And I will be a Lussibrud as in some wondrous dream.
And as the night begins to fade I’ll greet December sun
And knock on all the neighbours’ doors and sing to everyone
And offer all the friends I greet a golden saffron bun.
Lucia maidens will come too, with silver in their hair
And star boys with their studded wands and pointed caps to wear,
And elfin boys will follow us as we walk everywhere.
And I will stay awake throughout the longest winter night
And dress up in my silken sash, my crown, my robe of white
And I will be, for one brief day, Lucia of the Light.
Copyright Rodney “Bran” Blunsdon…..
On a light, note after reading my previous posting I realised that I had missed out part of the amusement of the weekend, the day that Sally Satnav got Tourette’s! Yes my Satnav system lost it and started swearing (or appeared to) when I was navigating a certain part of Wiltshire and Somerset while going to the Faery Ball. I couldn’t believe it when looking for a hotel in “Horse Castles Lane” she announced turn right into “Horse Arsehole’s Lane”, shrugged it off after some amusement as just mishearing her. But having driven out of the hotel later and hearing her plainly repeat the phrase I had to admit that’s what she had said! But that was just the beginning, when we set off for Glastonbury the next day we turned into “Horse Arseholes Lane” then she said turn left into f#cking road instead of Forking Road then continue one mile down F#cking Road…..by this time we were in hysteric’s, then the piece de résistance turn right into B#rstard Lane, cant remember what the real name because by then I was having difficulty driving and Lavinia was having difficulty not wetting herself with laughter. We spent the next ten miles waiting for her to do it again, but thankfully she didn’t otherwise we would have had to pull over until we had stopped laughing and were safe to drive again. Little things that crack you up like this don’t come along very often, and really you couldn’t make it up, but still cracking up about it now while writing this…….waiting for the next time Sally Satnav has difficulty in her pronunciation again or perhaps she does have Tourette’s, in which case I suppose I shouldn’t laugh as she might be having an electrical nervous moment…..Oh well back to reality folks!!!
It seems to have been months since I last posted here, time has flown past and there always seems to be something else to do rather than actually sit down and write. So much easier to put bland comments on social networking sites, the bane of any written work, quick easy and lazy compared to “Blogging”
Anybody that knows me will know that its almost impossible to get me to go further from my cottage than a few miles so it might come as a surprise to find out that I have been on the road again, clocking up the miles in my little Ka.
First of all a trip to Portsmouth to see my Daughter graduate from the Open University with her Bachelor of Science Degree, seven years and two kids after starting it. What a great weekend seeing her collect her “scroll” and also catching up with an old friend who had driven from Bedford to cheer her on. Within 48 hours she was working in a great position for a local charity who headhunted her before the ceremony… You just have to be proud of a kid that was written off at school but who has gone on to get so many qualifications (on top of the degree) by hard work and perseverance against all sorts of medical problems over the years. By the way, yes the old boy there is me in a suit, something its unlikely that you will ever see again!
Have to say modern technology made a great deal of difference to the weekend as I made use of my new toy “Sally” SatNav to guide me on the 700 miles of driving to Portsmouth and the places in the surrounding area, no stress no worry of map reading just her directions when needed. By the end of the weekend it was a case of thinking I shall never do a long journey without her…..
Then another adventure, or at least it was for me! A trip to the local college to finally have my hair cut after months of putting it off. Having slicked it back (and almost stuck it down) for my recent suit wearing trip it was time to get it sorted! So there I am surrounded by hairdressing students all worried that I might be their “client”, but the girl who had “the old man” spent two hours and weaved some magic turning my hair into a manageable mop. The fringe I had been growing out for two years cut back in along with the layering, talk about vanity, but at least with a bit of luck I might stop pulling lots of hair out now that I wont be tying it back by putting it in hairbands..
Then Glastonbury Faery Ball and a big weekend and more dressing up though not to the extremes that I was persuaded to last year. The photo above with the artist Josephine Wall and her husband and my friend from the US “Dancing Hands” shows I was a bit dressed down compared to others. Apart from the strangeness of the Faery folk and the goings on around (well not strange for them) there were other events that made it an unusual weekend!
We had not originally planned to be away for two nights so had only booked the night of the ball in a hotel, but to give us a bit more time to relax decided to book another night before the ball and fayre. Lavinia (that’s her with the “Mad Hatter”), on her first foray into online booking managed to find a three star hotel on “Late rooms.com” complete with all the trimmings for £25 for the two of us! What else could we do but book it and enjoy another night away. Now that may have seemed a great saving, but better was yet to come when we went to book into our next hotel of the weekend! Saturday after having spent all afternoon in Glastonbury we set off to the utilitarian Travelodge we had booked into (booked months before at serious discount prices) only to arrive and be told they were overbooked and could we help by perhaps staying at a local hotel instead a their expense. Well after hearing the reason (a local rave party) and seeing the brochure of the hotel we felt it would be churlish not to help them after all I was sure it would be better to leave the hotel in the hands of the “raver’s” and quite honestly the Podimore Travelodge looked like a hellhole anyway.
“Sally SatNav” programed we set off in the dark looking for the hotel and there it was a “15th Centaury” Inn in a small pretty village, what a difference to Travelodge, especially when we were shown to a luxury apartment in the hotel at the back. Almost didn’t want to leave the room to go back to the ball, deep leather sofa’s, 42” Plasma TV and a bathroom from a Hollywood film, sometimes it doesn’t get any better than that. Sadly that was the end of the luck that night and my hopes it would carry on and my lottery numbers would come up were not to be…
The ball as always was a mass of colour and noise and all to soon it was time for us to leave and return to the hotel for the night and then to sleep. Breakfast in the top rated (loads of stars) restaurant in the morning and then back to Glastonbury wandering around catching up with people and then the long drive home…another 500 miles on the clock.
But no sooner home and a trip around the the area with another new American friend seeing all the sites, the second tour in a fortnight it seems that we can go for months quietly in our cottage and then its all go. But now to settle down as the nights get longer, try to get on with more work in the studio and prepare for whatever excitement might be around the corner…..
Its that time of year again when I drive myself mad by being part of the annual “Group of Friends Arts and Crafts show” in the Lamorna valley near Penzance. We have been putting together a show each year in Lamorna village hall to showcase new works by practised artists and enabling new talent to show sometimes for the first time. The hall is a great place to show; light and airy and just big enough to have a reasonable size show, but cosy enough to make the space quite intimate when the show is up and running, it might have been built as a gallery the space is so usable. Of course it gets a lot of use by the local artists for their various shows so it has become a well known venue and we always think we are lucky to have it and always try to book it a year in advance to make sure we can use the space.
The run up to any exhibition is stressful at the best of times, but this one is the one that at times gets me (metaphorically) pulling my hair out, setting it up from the first booking of the hall, arranging who is to exhibit, to the actual day of the show is not to bad, but the actual set up day for me is all stress as we hang and display all our stock. Starting early in the morning the place comes to life as we move things around, start hanging stock and turn the hall into a working gallery, those few hours in the morning of the first day though are just chaotic as everybody unwraps things, takes stock out of boxes and generally get in each others way as the morning goes on. Then its time to walk around take stock and see if you have shown everything to advantage and see if other people can see a better way of displaying. It causes a bit of amusement as we discuss the best way of displaying and then start to move everything around again. Eventually its opening time for the public, though a few have already drifted in while we are setting up, the buzz as the first people come in is always fun, hearing the comments (good and bad), meeting people who come along every year old friends and new.
As the days go on a pattern starts to emerge, times when people come into the hall and sometimes it seems longer times when they don’t. The first day sets the theme it seems for the week ahead, this year it already looks on the first day as if we wont get the footfall we usually get and those that are coming in seem not to have money to spend this year unlike previous years. I think that the recession has hit the “Arts and Crafts” customers and those that are turning up are really counting their pennies especially the holiday makers as inflation hits their holiday pockets. At last day one is over and its time to wend my weary way home, tomorrow is another day.
Day two: Another very quiet day, in fact absolutely dire, hardly anyone through the door and those that did come in just seemed to be filling time and just looking for something to do as the weather started to deteriorate and the mist and wet rolled in from the sea. But at least we had someone to talk to as various locals popped in to check out what was happening in “their” hall….and so another day ended as it started, quietly…
Day three: and the day started an hour before we were due to open as customers turned up on the doorstep while signage was still being put out, what a difference from the the last couple of days. For an hour or two the hall was buzzing and people were in and out constantly, then all quiet for a couple of hours until another mad rush, Lavinia kept busy as she had customers for the next few hours selling so much stock that she was having difficulty in finding and displaying items with what she had left, but sadly the art just sits on the walls even the normal big sellers of reproductions and cards seems to be slow to move. Then another quick burst of customers and this time all the art glass seems to be in demand and Sues glass is the big seller for an hour…. then silence and outside the rain falls constantly custom disappears and we decide its time to go home, cant even be bothered to stay open for the last half hour of the day, another day done another two to go…lets hope tomorrows mad rush hours are for Art and a few paintings move…..
Day four: Arrive early and await the rush, well anybody for that matter, lets hope today brings customers through the door that want more than directions to various holiday cottages as happened for a while yesterday, but better that than nobody at all and if there are people already in an exhibition it seems to draw others in so today anybody will be welcome…perhaps I should have hired a crowd to act as bait to tempt people in…the humour of the thought is making me smile thinking of the times I have gone to gallery openings full of people who are just there for the social “canapé and wine circuit” and how much I used to hate those evenings when I could be bothered to go to them but how we could do with a few of the hangers on to make the hall look busy.
The day gets progressively busier as it goes on, but its obvious that the money is not there to spend there may be Porches in the car park but there don’t seem to be pounds in the pockets but some of the exhibiters are going to make a bit of money today even if they wont make their fortune. Slowly they all drift away as the day comes to an end and we wearily drift away ourselves tired out ready for a snack and early bed.
Day 5, the last day; early start, and the sun is shinning open the hall and wait for the hoards!
Well we opened early and the first few people through the door actually spent money so it looked as if the day was set to be busy, people kept popping in to chat and it looked as if it could make up for the the past few quiet days, but alas another quiet period set in for a couple of hours and the only people through the door were “gallery scouts” trying to persuade us to let them handle our stuff at knock prices for huge commissions and people wanting to join us in future. Then as the end of the drew closer a sudden rush and almost more money across the desk in a few hours than the whole of the previous days then nothing….
Then it was almost over and all the people who were involved in the show turned up and we spent an interesting hour socialising before packing up, an hour after the show was over the room was back to how it had been before and the year of planning and the five days of show were over. Now all that remains is to put everything away until the next time and start planning for the next one…….but I think it will be a while before that happens….