Three of Swords

The Three of Swords is about loss, separation, heartache and grief. I have chosen three different versions of this card, which I feel illustrate the vibe of the Three of Swords, and I have written a flash fiction piece which is my own personal take on a Three of Swords experience.

Like most people I have had many of these experiences in my life. The card serves to show us that the grief is not empty, it has meaning, and maybe it will also be there as a shadow, but it can also help us to gain strength when faced with future grief. For me when I see this card I feel intense grief for the things I believe I have done to cause pain for others, not just my own personal grief. In the Thoth deck, Crowley calls this card Sorrow, with good reason.

Three three cards below are from The Deviant Moon Tarot, The Lucy Lescot Tarot and The Poet Tarot.

The Deviant Moon card on the far left, follows the RWS system fairly closely, but it also has it’s own unique twist, which can often cut like a knife. I my own experience there is no messing with this deck, it comes straight to the point. The figure appears to be dressed in some kind of armour but it still cannot defy the swords piercing her heart. The shadow behind her shows that her own pain is bigger than she is at this moment. Yet through the window, the moon is shining over the mountains, showing a sliver of light, she just needs to find the strength to turn towards that hope.

The card in the centre is from The Ludy Lescot deck, and this is almost a perfect illustration of my biggest personal Three of Swords experiences. A broken home, broken family, broken children and lost babies. The blood is on the woman’s dress, signifying her guilt and her part in this wreckage. She cannot face what she has done at the moment but she clings to the cross, a sign of hope and strength to help her go on, like the moon in the previous card.

The third card is a but different, but I chose it because it reflects art and writing which are both big in my life. The Poet Tarot substitutes Swords for Mentors, which signify revision… the stuff we do to put things write once we have created them, this card is when we may have to kill our darlings. But another side to this card according to the accompanying book, is the darkness that can sometimes take hold of a mentor, causing them to act out of personal petty jealousy, rather than honest critique. It is a different take on this card as is shown with Cupid wearing a death’s head. It is a sign to look deeply at your own work and be sure that those who purport to encourage, you are not actually out to make you feel bad.

3 of Swords from Deviant Moon Tarot, Ludy Lescot Tarot & The Poet Tarot.
Three of Swords from Deviant Moon Tarot, Ludy Lescot Tarot and The Poet Tarot.

The piece of drftwood in the photo is something I found a few years ago, recently it wants to be part of all my Tarot readings, so who am I to argue. Driftwood is watery, it may be to do with my current emotional state., It is also very Cancerian in its vibe.

This is a piece of flash fiction that I wrote for the Three of Swords:

When she woke to hear rain battering against the iron roof,  and heard the tides rushing up to fill the mudflats, she knew it was the right day. It was hardly light outside, and even standing over by the estuary she could still see the glow of the candle she had left burning in the window.  She took the white plastic strip from her pocket, looked at the two blue lines, and remembered the hopes and dreams that they had signified.  She touched it to her lips one last time, and then sent it spinning through the curtain of rain, out to the high tide. She stood watching, tears and raindrops blurring her vision, fighting the urge to plunge into the water after it.  When she could no longer see the tiny flash of white she turned back back to the house. ‘Go free little soul’, she whispered.

And it’s all over now…

So, the final exhibition of the year is over, packed up, gone. The opening went really well, it was worth all the stress and hard work, to see the place packed with people, and to hear some great comments on all the art. I was particularly pleased when a couple of Level 7 students told me that we had pulled off a professional exhibition, totally worthy of Level 7, let alone Level 6!! Woot…!

I am so proud of all of us for making it happen, against a lot of odds. It is a lot to ask at the end of a college year, for the work not only to be presented in college for assessment, but again in a gallery. This involved two lots of sanding, painting preparing walls, plinths, filling holes, curating and then the actual installing! My installation was particularly time consuming, so yeah kudos to NM,IT Bachelor of Arts & Media Level 6 2014… WE ROCK N ROLL & RULE THE WAVES!!!

And we also had live Blues music from my favourite muso’s, Russ and Phil, who you may remember from another exhibition I curated, Bikes, Blues & Metal Guitars

So now it is over… My trees were donated to firewood, my lovely friend and fellow student Leigh, gave a home to Wolfie and my painting mow hangs in my hallway. The tattered velvet hood, ah well, that may live to see another day, I’m not quite finished with my fairy tales yet….

I will leave you with some quick imperfect,  iPhone snaps that I took on the night, through a slightly tipsy haze I unashamedly admit, but I like them, the little fragments that they capture. I have given them a faded, did I dream that, or did it really happen? touch, just for fun, and because, well that’s the way it is folks…

I like this shot, love the way the branches and shadows entangle with the trees in the painting…

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The forest worked better in the gallery than in the studio, and I used all the trees!

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A real lone wolf wandered by to check out my art

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Artist – free to good home… Have rake will travel…

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It has soul… like Rory Gallagher

Our exhibition is called 26…

This may seem odd, in fact it was a serendipitous mistake (by my interpretation anyway).

You see, there are only 25 of us students exhibiting. But without a viewer there is no exhibition, and so the 26th person is the viewer… Roland Barthes would like this, that we may room for the reader, who is the ultimate author, or artist…

Whatever. I have been making catalogues, lovingly, by hand and my trusty Bernina…

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There will be 150 of them… by Tuesday…

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I designed the layout and had the insides printed, and then I asked everyone for scraps of their artwork, and stitched them to the covers, then I stitched the covers and text together… Each catalogue is a unique piece of art in it’s own right. The viewers can have fun figuring out which artists their scrap came from ;-/

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I like gritty, edgy, scrappy, recycled, grunge style art… it has soul… like Rory Gallagher…

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Artist Statement

Ok, by  request, here is my artist’s statement for my installation which I have entitled:  In Search of the Wolf

 

In Search of the Wolf – Artist Statement

 Inevitably they find their way into the forest. It is there that they lose and find themselves. It is there that they gain a sense of what is to be done. The forest is always large, immense, great and mysterious. No one ever gains power over the forest, but the forest possesses the power to change lives and alter destinies. (Zipes, 2003)

 The above quote by Jack Zipes, takes me to a place I remember and yet cannot find on a map. In my current work I am exploring the meaning of this lost place within the concept of fairy tales. In Zipes’ forest, we can confront the wolf, and survive to tell the tale. These stories have been passed down through history throughout the world. They have set behaviour patterns, and archetypes with which we can access the fragmented parts of ourselves.

 I chose to work with this theme because I have always had a love of books and other worlds, which I am sure I have lived in. I have been in an active search of the wolf throughout my adult life, ever since I fell in love with him as a child. Unfortunately this lead to some bad relationship decisions, which I feel were due to my lack of understanding of my own identity. I live in a world and an era in which I often feel alien. This has led me to create my own worlds within my art and poetry, where I can find healing and sanctuary.

 I am currently working with mixed media, and installation, in which I allow my own personal mythology to lead the way. The fairy tale like characters and a winter forest setting, reference the stories I grew up with and the areas in Northern Europe where many of these stories originated.  I am using traditional women’s crafts, to form my beast or animus. This illustrates the strength of the female, which is enhanced by the assimilation of the animus. The tattered piece of cloak references the many retellings, of folk and fairy tales through the ages.

The narrative within my work is personal, but others may find their own story within their interpretations, or even be inspired to explore their own identity through this genre. Carl Jung believed that in order to reach our real self we had to meet our shadow and our animus or anima and assimilate these aspects of our personality into our selves. Jack Zipes illustrates the part Fairy Tales play in this process, which Jung calls Individuation, when he said:

 Fairy tales begin with conflict because we all begin our lives with conflict. We are all misfit for the world, and somehow we must fit in, fit in with other people, and thus we must invent or find the means through communication to satisfy as well as resolve conflicting desires and instincts. (Zipes, 2012)

My work engages in a dialogue with both traditional fairy tales and storytelling through imagery and installation. I am interested in the narrative art of artists such as Kiki Smith and Paula Rego

 This project is underpinned by the theories of Carl Jung, James Hillman and Jacques Lacan, relating to the concept of a fragmented self. The works of Jungian psychologist Marie Von Franz, and the writings of Jack Zipes, who is a professor of German and a scholar of fairy tales, also inform my current work.

Bibliography

Jung, C. G. (1970). The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. (G. Adler & R. F. C. Hull, Trans.) (2 edition.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Von Franz, M.-L. (1970). Interpretation of Fairytales. Dallas: Spring Publictions Inc.

Von Franz, M.-L. (1990). Individuation in Fairy Tales. Boston: Shambhala.

Von Franz, M.-L. (1995). Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales (Revised.). Boston: Shambhala Publications Inc.

Zipes, J. (2003). The Brothers Grimm: From Enchanted Forests to the Modern World (2nd edition.). Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zipes, J. (2012). The Irresistable Fairy Tale. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

 

 

All in the hands of the Gods…

Ah well, I haven’t sat down for over 10 hours… but the studio is all cleaned, everyone’s work is hung, I have collected a ton of info for the catalogue, and my installation is installed…

Here it is, as seen through the lens of my iPhone…

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Another viewpoint:

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Wolfie, in all his animus glory, complete with antlers that make him part of the forest…

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I think it is all jolly spectacular.. there is some fantastic work in the studio. We are the graduates of tomorrow, and we ROCK!

 

The woodcutter always finds his way into the story…

Today I cut trees, dead trees, trees that looked perfect for my installation. And then they had to be mounted on the roof of my car, and stashed inside my car.

I think this is what they call process work… I call it hard work…

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Look at this glorious shot of the back window of my car… and the reflections… you can’t see that it is stuffed full of trees inside!

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Then I finished my Animus and Anima picture book, more process work :o)

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I really like these books… I shall make more… at some point… I fancy a Tarot based one – or seven….

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Fairy Tale Driven…

I found this advertisement by The Toyota Foundation, I like it a lot… so much power in this image, and the wording:

Without nature, there are no stories…

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The use of the fairy tale in all aspects of art is something that drives my own practice. Fairy tales are recognized globally just about. Their language is universal, as old as time, and yet with a firm footing in the present.

 

The last days…

I will be so glad when this is all over… the self doubt, the exhibiting part, the assessment, the damned crazy business of getting it all as I see it in my mind, as I have seen it for the past few months. Getting others to see that vision.

Each piece of work I have undertaken this year has been installation. Not through planning, I never saw myself as an installation artist, but it has just happened. So I am discovering something about myself as an artist through my work, through experimenting, playing, making… letting the path twist and turn… But when it comes to setting up, I look at the clean simplicity of a picture on a wall, a screen on a plinth, a graphic on a laptop… and I wonder why I make things so difficult and messy for myself.

So… I made a cloak, well, part of a torn, worn, ancient cloak. I used pieces of recycled velvet in many shades of red. It is worn and torn, unpicked and restitched. This will hang on one of the trees, it represents the many layers of self, and the many retellings of the story. The story of the hero’s journey, the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the story of the wolf, the story of me…

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Here is a detail of the patchwork and rough stitching…

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Then I started to hang a few trees, trying to get an idea of what I need before Monday. About three of the trees/branches are good to go. I need to go and source more in the bush behind my property. A very awesome thing happened while I was hanging the trees… a gorgeous shadow picture appeared on my newly painted wall… I tried to capture it on my iPhone…

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This is how ‘Desire’ is looking at the moment:

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I need a title too, for the whole thing, I am thinking In Search of the Wolf…

Ok, off to the woods I go…

 

 

Furry Art

While creating Wolfie, Ruby’s animus persona dude, I have been thinking a lot about the materials that artists use and the connotations these may have for the viewer. Because I am using faux fur  as part of my animus creation I decided to investigate if and how it has been used in fine art. After all, I am guessing that quite a lot of the art viewing public would not give faux fur a place in an art gallery. I came up with quite a collection of different ways this material has been used by artists, from the obvious, to the totally out there, What the hell is that made of?!

Lets start with the more obvious, with this image of an art doll, by American artist, Linda Ehrenfried. Linda creates amazing creatures from fairy tales, mythology and her own imagination. This is Nebble, he is made from polymer clay, copper wire, faux fur and paint. I would give him a home…

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This next image is a photograph by Matthew Albanese, this amazing guy creates the most incredible landscapes from materials such as corn syrup, paprika, sugar, tile grout, jelly beans and cotton wool. You can see more of his work here. Spot the faux fur:

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One more example is Silver coated faux fur paint spill art by Kate Nichols… I am not even going to ask why, but you can read more about Kate’s work here

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So, there we go… not only faux fur, but jelly beans. There are some art snobs out there who would turn their nose up at the use of these materials, but we have to remember that water colours and acrylics were once given the same treatment.

I know why I am using faux fur, and that’s what matters to me.

As an aside, I just crocheted a nose…

 

Images sourced from:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/123004633545363305/

http://tinyurl.com/ybwvags

http://www.artbusiness.com/1open/051613b.html

Why Ruby?

I am a big fan and supporter of Brain Pickings, possibly the best website out there, along with TED.

Every Sunday morning I try to spend a luxurious hour lost in the forest, that is the weekly Brain Pickings newsletter. The paths twist and turn, and it is easy to bet lost and not get home until dark, but whatever time I return, at the end of each journey I have a basket full of the very best and tastiest of fungi.

Today I was drawn towards an interview with Ben Schott, author of the original Schott’s Miscellany. and it’s many offspring. I recommend this interview to all designers out there. The original book which I was gifted about 10 years ago is totally unique. But only today did I discover that the design of the book is based on the golden ratio. Schott talks about design with a passion that I wish all designers had access to. The quote from the interview that really got to me today was this one:

I’m a fan Virginia Woolf — I’m a real fan of Mrs. Dalloway more than anything else she’s written. But what, I think, seduces her work is that sense that small things are significant. There’s another great quote [from To the Lighthouse] which sums up one of my theories of design, to the extent that I’m entitled to have any theories, which is: “light and evanescent but held together by bolts of iron.”

[Design] must be, on the surface, like a butterfly’s wing — but underneath it must be clamped together with bolts of iron…

This is what I think is the secret of so much craft — to make it look effortless and evanescent, like a butterfly’s wing, but it needs to have structure, rigidity, purpose.

I always try to apply strong design principles to my own work, it is almost second nature to me to ask why something has to be there. When I first began a degree in graphic design at the end of the 70’s, the teaching was somewhat different to now. there were no computers for a start. But the basics are as relevant today as they were then. A designer should be able to explain the reason for each line, each curve, each dot… it is not enough that they look good, or they work…  not for me anyway, and certainly not for Mr Jessop, the demon tutor! I never finished that degree, the standards were tough and the work was tedious, hand drawing perfect Roman serifs, one after the other, printing and collating the stationary for the final year students, using big old hand rolled presses. Yeah, it was tough, and with no magic brushes to aid us on our way. Still I have not forgotten the lessons of that first year.

To this end I decided to look at my current project, and ask myself some questions, just as Mr Jessop would have done.

What is the theme of my work?

Individuation, the process of finding ones way in life, to a complete self.  Driven by the works of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.

How have I conceptualised this theme?

I have placed my work within the concept of fairy tales and the hero’s journey. In particular I have focused on the story of  Little Red Riding Hood.  I have used the tale to illustrate Jung’s concept of the shadow, and animus and anima.

Why a forest-like installation?

Fairy tales were often set in a forest setting,many that I was familiar with as a child are set in the dark forests of Northern Europe. The forest represents the shadow, the journey through the forest is the meeting and assimilation of the shadow side of one’s nature.

Why the antlers, the wolf critter?

Ruby’s wolf/wild thing head dress represents the male creature that she meets with in the forest and assimilates as part of her self. When Ruby meets her animus, she comes together with him, and realises that rather than be enemies the strength is in joining together.

Why a trophy like sculpture?

Achieving individuation is celebrated by this trophy. Ruby has come out of the forest more complete. The antlers and wolf like mask represent her achievement, of meeting with, and assimilating the shadow side, the animus. At the same time I didn’t want the cut off head trophy look, like those of the hunter, this trophy is more about creation or recreation. This is why the wolf head dress is a patchwork of women’s crafts, knitting, weaving. The things we gather throughout our lives become who we are, each thread gets woven into our being. By using creative fabrics rather than dead animal skin I am representing life and growth.

Why is she called Ruby?

Her true name is Ruby Tuesday, because I always wanted  a child called Ruby Tuesday.  But none of my children were born on a Tuesday so it didn’t seem right, (Thanks Mr Jessop…). I loved the song written by Keith Richards:

but I prefer the version by Melanie, I have been singing it for years, and years. I almost have it perfect… for me…

And that’s it really, it’s about love and desire. My mixed media painting, that may or may not be part of the installation is called Desire, because that is what it is about. Our journey’s through the shadows are generally led by desire.