Saturday, August 13, 2016


 Newly completed Healing Goddess (next to Nigerian helmet mask) by Robyn Gordon

"Our work as artists is courageous and scary. There is no brief that comes along with it, no problem solving that's given as a task....An artist's work is almost entirely inquiry based and self-regulated. It is a fragile process of teaching oneself to work alone, and focusing on how to hone your quirky creative obsessions so that they eventually become so oddly specific that they can only be our own." - Teresita Fernandez

Since I've just completed carving my healing goddess I thought I would share with those interested about what initially inspired me to carve her. The new carving is a late addition to a series of Healing Goddesses I carved several years ago.

From an old series several years ago.

A primitive Songye figure or Nkisi (from the Democratic Republic of the Congo) started my thought process about doing a series.

Image courtesy of Boris Kegel-Konietzko

I thought he was rather ugly at first though some would disagree because he has a raw, primitive energy and charm and in any case he was not created to be a work of art but an Nkisi. An Nkisi  is a power figure that is believed to have protective powers for the owner and his family. 

Wrapped around the large figure are a number of smaller figures which could be handed out to those who needed protection from evil or misfortune. When the need for protection had disappeared the small figures would then be returned  to the bigger figure. 

I fell in love with this Songye Ceremonial vessel. It is a gourd with an inner basket (containing potatoes, I think) and several miniature power figures attached to the outside.

I think the vessel has a feel-good quality about it as opposed to the slightly uneasy feeling I get from the Nkisi. 

Nestled amidst the wood shavings on my worktable .... a favourite place to photograph my carvings.

It was important to me that my Healing Goddesses exuded a feel good energy and I can only hope that I've achieved that. It was certainly therapeutic to carve them.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


A collection of West African Islamic Teaching Tablets used by students in West Africa. Click

"I collect these objects to learn from them. In some moments these things are going to teach me something. For me, this is like a library. These are my books." - Jose Bedia, Art News

Though I don't own these beautiful artifacts 
I can gaze at the images, 
feeling the history and stories within them
.... feeling some satisfaction that they exist somewhere 
and hoping that they  are being preserved 
so that others can share in the wonder.  

Ancient Indian Manuscript. Click here

"I may have some pieces that are considered important, but most of the objects are things that evoke a feeling of visual pleasure. I think that part of the pleasure of collecting is to go out and find that great object and then introduce it into your environment." - James Marinaccio in Art and Antiques

This ancient book is part of a collection of 70 tiny books, their lead pages bound with wire. They could unlock some of the secrets of the earliest days of Christianity. Found in a cave in Jordan. Click here

Sea Excavated Artifact

Some of these tactile pieces invite holding but alas I can only look.

Ivory Inuit Amulets. click

Arrowhead, Tanzania click

Antique Afghani bone Spindle Whorls. click

 Bamana Granary Door, Mali  Click

"Certain objects are difficult to tame yet it is their very strangeness that perpetuates my curiosity and their appeal in my eyes." - Unknown Collector in Tribal Art

Wooden Atie Boat from the Ivory Coast click

"In age, variety and beauty, art from Africa is second to none. Africa had traditions of abstract art, performance art, installation art and conceptual art centuries before the West ever dreamed up the names." - Holland Cotter, The New York Times

Monday, July 11, 2016


Deena Haynes. Click

"Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it's about creating a clearing. It's opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question..." - Brene Brown

The sense of peace we achieved on holiday is already seeping away. My chiropractor who has to deal with my tense shoulders suggested I find something that instills peace closer to home since we can't  go racing off to the Wild Coast (a 7 hours journey away), every time I feel tense.  I'm taking the advise of Brene Brown and trying to create a clearing within the busyness of life.

Jessica Rimondi. Click

Recently I discovered the work of Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis, an artist who is inspired by nature and the surrounding countryside of the Sussex Downs. 

Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis. Website here

"The artists deep affection for place and rural history is the antithesis of sentimental pastoral, as she seeks to understand all that is complex and valuable in our landscape heritage. Giving as much or more attention to the detail of a sycamore leaf as she does to a classic sweep of downs or a tempestuous sky, Aytoun-Ellis shows us how to look at landscape and nature with compassion, fairness and honesty. These are vital ways of thinking about our countryside as it continues to be threatened by creeping urbanization." - Clare Best   #

 Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis  Click

Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis

"Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe. Silence is not an absence but a presence. Not an emptiness but repletion. A filling up." - Anne C LeClaire

I enjoyed Anne LeClaire's book, Listening Below The Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence. It "offers readers the possibility of finding grace and peace in the natural world". Find it on Amazon here

The beautiful art of Jeanie Tomanek. Website 

"Silence is something more than just a pause; it is that enchanted place where space is cleared and time is stayed and the horizon itself expands. In silence, we often say, we can hear ourselves think; but what is truer to say is that in silence we can hear ourselves not think, and so sink below our selves into a place far deeper than mere thought allows..." - Pico Iyer

I have started reading The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer. Find it on Amazon here

"Accept what comes from silence. Make the best you can of it. Of the little words that come out of the silence, like prayers prayed back to the one who prays, make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came." - Wendell Berry

The imposing Mennesket ved Havet (Men at Sea), Denmark. Photo by Marco Franchino. Click

"Be secluded in your secret heart-house, that bowl of silence..." - Rumi

Friday, July 1, 2016


We have returned from three glorious weeks at the Wild Coast, feeling replenished and at peace with the world. 

 Most days were soft and meditative, filled with winter sunshine and the hushed unfolding of waves on the sand.

I learned a new word from Mo yesterday.
Apricity: The word apricity represents a simple and familiar yet a very specific phenomenon - the sun's warmth on a cold winter's day. (Click on the word to read further)

It seems appropriate to introduce the word here since, the world and his wife..... dog.....goat and cow, within a kilometer's radius, seemed to wander down to the beach to stand in the sun, .....relishing apricity on a winter's day.

I walked around this bull several times, clicking my camera and he remained  unperturbed. Just a twitch of tail and ear.
I can't imagine our holidays without the resident dogs. They add much joy and tail wagging to our days. 

The sea poems of Pablo Neruda also seem appropriate here. Follow the link if you wish to read a few more.

The Sea by Pablo Neruda

I need the sea because it teaches me.
I don't know if I learn music or awareness,
if it's a single wave or it's existence,
or only it's harsh voice or it's shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.

It's not simply the shells crunched
as if some shivering planet
were giving signs of it's gradual death;
no, I reconstruct the day out of a fragment,
the stalactite from the silver of salt,
and the great god out of a spoonful.

What it taught me before, I keep. It's air
ceaseless wind, water and sand.

It seems a small thing for a young man,
to have come here to live with his own fire,
nevertheless, the pulse that rose
and fell in it's abyss,
the crackling of the blue cold,
the gradual wearing away of the star,
the soft unfolding of the wave
squandering snow with it's foam,
the quiet power out there, sure
as a stone shrine in the depths,
replaced my world in which were growing
stubborn sorrow, gathering oblivion,
and my life changed suddenly:
as I became part of it's movement.

Need I say, this weathered plank and broken shell returned home with me

"Among the things the sea throws up,
let us hunt for the most petrified,
violet claws of crabs,
little skulls of dead fish,
smooth syllables of wood,
small countries of mother-of-pearl;
let us look for what the sea undid
insistently, carelessly,
what it broke up and abandoned,
and left behind us."

- Forget about Me by Pablo Neruda

More chiton shells to add to my collection

Limpets doing what limpets do.

 An ox drawn sled (made out of branches) carries fire wood home

Cows in the mist

 Fish for supper.

A misty end to the day

The  SILVER SUMMER show begins tomorrow at FILLINGDON FINE ART in PIDDINGTON, UK. Details here.  I have a few pieces on the show, including the tall story panel below.

"Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degrees of presence." - Alan Watts

Thursday, June 2, 2016


mrandmrscharlie on Instagram

Stephanie Dalton's new painting inspired me today. It reminds me of riverine krantzes, pebble beaches, driftwood and rock pools. 

Stephanie Dalton. Click to go to Stephanie's website

I enjoyed Stephanie's artist statement ..... and wish I had written it myself.

"It is the quieter side of the world that inspires my abstract works, the feelings that arise through a connection with the natural world. Colorful patterns in stone, aged patinas on walls, and fragmented light on the horizon are some natural touchstones for me." - Stephanie Dalton

Small wild basket by Robyn Gordon

My own work is often inspired by my connection with nature. Long walks and foraging on beaches set the mood for beginning new carvings. Once I was inspired by clumps of sea reeds that were washed up on the beach after heavy storms and decided  there and then to sit down and create my first wild basket for the few small treasures I had found. It is a very rudimentary basket but for the time I spent creating it I was totally absorbed.

"Beach Walk" a work in progress by Robyn Gordon

Beach walks have inspired many of my carvings. 

A piece from the River to Wood series by Hannah Lamb

I'm intrigued with how artists interpret what they have seen and how they bring meaningful moments into their artwork.

Hannah Lamb's " creative practice focuses on walking and making as methods of reconnecting with the world immediately around us. Personal, emotional responses to environment and surface are recorded through stitch, print, photography and construction, piecing together fragments of place and time."

Hannah's River to Wood series explores the landscape of the River Aire. 

"Short journeys, walking from home to Hirst Wood, collecting marks, prints and found materials." - Hannah Lamb

Talking about wild baskets and inspiration, I found some delightful images on mrandmrscharlie's Instagram blog.

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." - Pablo Picasso

Old papers and Japanese Wood by inspiration.h.o.m.e on Istagram. Love this one!