Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Last week, late in the week, we went out walking to feel the leaves crunching underfoot and look for lank, lantern-ish orange leaves glowing against the grey sky, ready to fly off into it. As we were walking, there came some noises behind us. A small, goat-sized deer stopped time for a moment and we stared. And he stared.

If a unicorn had walked out of the woods it could not have been more magical. But we thought it best not to stare too long, we decided we ought to be moving. And so we walked on, but he followed after us.

Antlers grew root-like from his head, and he looked like a slick-wet tree that had sprung free of the earth. If we stopped, he stopped. If we walked, he let us go on for a little while, ran a little ways off. He played with fallen branches, pretending they were rival antlers he could clash up against. And then the desire for company would strike him and he would run up close to us again, like a tame and graceful dog.

I had a camera with me in my bag, but the battery died before I could take any photographs, so I wasn't able to capture anything of our strolling companion. Out walking in the woods, one is prey to peculiar feelings -- that maybe deer cast spells that are stronger than cameras. At home I sketched to remember.

We finally left our friend and walked out to the road. After a short stroll down a cobblestone way, we wandered downstream, through more woods, past the old well and the haunted tree that creaks and rustles all on its own. We followed the direction of the river along a high wooded path and beneath us we saw three more deer that had climbed down the steep ravine to drink at the water's edge. (Though, you can only see two of them in the very quick sketch below.)

At at the old medieval bridge (and which you may have seen in this post from long ago), we looked deep into the black waters below our feet and saw a seal swimming slowly, meditatively, on his back, just below the surface of the river.

Again, time stopped.

He seemed to hang still in the blackness, and then he would vanish, only to reappear a few minutes later. Even as we walked away along the bank of the river, from quite far off we could see his pale body hovering ghostly white against the dark, quiet waters that the bridge watches over.

Where the river empties into the sea, we startled a family of seals basking on the beach. I didn't draw them or the commotion as they shuffled off into the sea. Of that there is just the desperate feeling left by the last, littlest one that was slow to catch on. All alone on the beach, turning backward, stopping a second at sea's brim. One long look before dashing away.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Tower Music

You can hear them here. In the summer, when the doors and windows are thrown open and the carillonneur is playing in his windy, stone tower, I hear these bells while I am at work. I do long to sit and quietly listen, but instead there are many tiny tasks and conversations and  lots of running up and down. Happily though, a few weeks ago, we climbed old wooden steps up into the tower so we could watch the bells as well as listen. It was the last carillon music of the summer.

The tower was full of sweet breezes and the feeling of joy that tall, safe places hold, especially on gently windswept days. Beneath our feet, the carillonneur sat in front of what looked like an organ with sticks coming out of it instead of keys. He used closed fists to hit the sticks, which tugged wires running up through the the floor between him and us, and pulled the clappers to sound the bells.

Sometimes there were the high, sweet rushes of the smaller bells, and other times the tunes turned eerie, low, and minor-keyed, sinister and delightful in the way only bells can be.

The largest bell tolls to announce the hour. In the winter, when the tower is only for ragged winds and icy bronze, a machine counts the minutes on old wheels and gears, and pulls the wires to ring the hours all alone. But on Christmas Eve, passing in the dark, I have heard someone playing up there in the lonesome cold.

The ringing shook inside and through us as we stood and watched until just before the end. Then we wound down the tower staircases, out through the mute stained-glass glow of the church, and through the old graves that sit like stone tables in the kirkyard. And the music followed us, unending.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Pushing Print

Some prints from my studio for you today!

But if those are not quite the sort of prints you are interested in seeing, I will have two prints on display at the Pushing Print festival in Margate starting tomorrow and continuing until the 20th of October. La rencontre and Deux poids, deux mesures will both be there, framed and ready to take home. There will also be hundreds other prints in various venues around the town, as well as interesting talks and workshops, and tomorrow there will be a Giant Print Event where enormous monoprints and linoprints will be printed in the street using a steam roller!