On the 18th December I shall be spending a cosy afternoon making cards at Wenlock Books. If you are based in the Shropshire area and would like to join for a crafty three hours (plus free coffee and cake) us email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01952 727877. Space is limited but if there is demand I’ll gladly do another session. Download full details here.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Anam Cara, a retreat centre outside Inverness. Anam Cara is a Gaelic word meaning “soul friend” It symbolises a spiritual friendship that is not affected by time, distance, or separation. In the old Celtic tradition, the Anam Cara was someone you could share your innermost self, mind and heart. This soul friendship was an act of recognition and belonging helping us return to the heart of our spirit. The community at Anam Cara have chosen this name as a symbol for the “circle of belonging” that inner friendship which embraces nature, divinity, spirit and human world as one.
I spent two nights there, overlooking the city lights from a wild place. There is something unique about the setting of a retreat centre so close to urban life; a relatedness, an ability to ‘be’ without shutting out the world.
There are beautiful new seeds germinating at Anam Cara, including this space next to the healing room. This wild patch (next to a natural well) will become a healing garden devoted to the divine mother. We hope to make something together for this space, which is already touched by art in the form of glass work on the healing room walls.
The time was slow, reflective and curious. I walked, meditated and got to know the Anam Cara family a little. We spoke of meditation, Buddhism, women, transition and community. On the theme of divine mother, the egg came up as a symbol of new life, inspired by the community’s new members; four gorgeous young ducks.
A return in the summer is on the cards, but for now a small gift made from materials found on site and a few extras from my travelling craft box.
I have an ongoing interest in masks. In the last two years I have taken part in a masked improvisation workshop with Steve Jarand, performed in masked costume with the Mearcstapa collective at the Uncivilisation 2012 festival and written poetry from a great mask making and writing exercise with Em Strang and Susan Richardson. Creatively and psychologically masks are a fascinating canvas for our imaginations and emotions. They help us engage with the liminal and cross boundaries; reaching deeper into a story, a character or ourselves.
As part of the Made in Calgary programme of events, Victoria Bond and I ran a pre-Halloween mask making workshop. Children decorated their masks using natural materials, to wear at Halloween and the upcoming Dark Woods event at Calgary Arts (with Giants in the Forest). Some made masks influenced by animals (wolves and cats were popular Halloween choices), and others were more decorative. As the children picked up on each other’s ideas the masks began to compliment each other, it was interesting to observe how they naturally made masks which look quite tribal! Perhaps it is something about instinctive ways to mark the face that are embodied within us; an aesthetic deepened by the use of natural objects.
The wondrous Wikipedia tells me there is even such a thing as haptic poetry:
Haptic poetry, like visual poetry and sound poetry, is a liminal art form combining characteristics of typography and sculpture to create objects not only to be seen, but to be touched and manipulated. Indeed, in haptic poetry, the sense of touch (and, to a lesser extent, the other senses) is equal to, if not more important than, the sense of sight, yet both text-based poetry and haptic poetry have the same goals: to create an aesthetic effect in the minds of the intended audience.
It is quite magical when you have been creating along certain lines, then discover those lines have been following invisible tracks of a ‘thing’ that already exists. Like finding community or tapping into a shared consciousness.
Another found poem is born. This one was created from the pages of a book I picked up in a charity shop; Charles Seltman’s Women in Antiquity, and from a 2005 National Geographic article about new discoveries in evolution. Open the image in a new tab to read at full size