Seasonal Delights

pumpkins in front of a shop near Kew Gardens, photo taken by Brian Rickards
Pumpkins in front of a shop near Kew Gardens, photo taken by Brian Rickards

The season is changing . Summer is all but spent .  Autumn is arriving in the southern hemisphere,  you can feel and smell the change in the air.

 

green lto red
The Change

Leaves will change, the greens becoming rich warm tones of gold, red and orange.

Autumn leaf babies
Autumn leaf babies

Seeds will snuggle in the earth, sleeping, waiting to rise in the spring. Gleefully I am ready to embrace the change of season and welcome back Autumn.

small woodlnad scene , with miniature charactes, owl, rabbit mouise and bluebird of happiness plus a little autumn sprite.hand stitched.
A woodland Autumn scene

 

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A Precious Gift

Small scene,of a pool ,path and garden,closeby an wits on a hollow log. Hand-stitched from wool felt,embellished with beads and embroidery.vvvv
By the Pond

Again sharing another small nature scene.

There is a slight difference, as this time the little owl that is sitting on the hollow log is hand is stitched rather than needle felted. The owl resulted as a happy accident, rather than intention, as a result of finding felt scraps that wanted to be an owl.

This small mat lends itself to story telling as well as being suitable for gentle play and as an accessory for the nature table.

As in most of my other scapes, water is a feature. In ancient times water was regarded as a sacred and precious gift, the lifeblood that flowed from the womb of The Great Goddess, The Mater or Mother, creating and sustaining life.

The right of all living things to clear air, clean water and  pure food seems to be more and more disregarded. Waterways are   used to dump toxic waste and human waste, as well as being contaminated with chemicals from industry, mining, fracking and agriculture.

Privatisation seems to regard water, that essential component for life, as a commodity to trade, to control, to withold and to abuse. Samuel Taylor Coleridge remarked, in his poem “The Ancient Mariner, “water,water everywhere and not a drop to drink”, sadly this is becoming the reality of our world.

This scene has another layer of meaning. The owl as symbol of the Goddess , of wisdom and of seeking for the core truth that is held within, sits still, gazing at a small pool that could even be  an ancient healing well or spring.

Working on this piece made me think deeply about these issues, reflecting, and  wishing that all mankind realises we need to work together, care deeply for each other and for Mother Earth.

Of Castles, Knights and Incongruity

Castle-near-Doolan,Ireland
Castle-near-Doolan,Ireland

Encountering ancient castles while travelling in U.K, Ireland and Europe in 2013 brought to life many fairy tales, myths and historic battles. It was an  exciting, overwhelming and profound experience.

Dolbadarn Castle, North Wales
Dolbadarn Castle, North Wales

As  a  child tales of castles, knights, princesses and dragons held great fascination for me . Tennyson’s poem, “The  Lady of Shallot” was a favourite  creating a long held desire to visit the supposed locations of the Arthurian Legend. However,  life intervened before the opportunity presented. As it turned out many of these places we only whizzed past gazing at the mythic ruins of Tintagel from afar, viewing St. Michael’s Mount through thick fog, only a fleeting glimpse from a bypass of Glastonbury and mystic Avalon.

Part of a mosaic in Vienna depicting a knight- awesome work.
Part of a mosaic in Vienna depicting a knight- awesome work.

The era of knights and damsels tends to be regarded as one of chivalry and honour, but in reality it was a harsh and cruel period. Many knights were not noble heroes, rather sadistic, violent thugs who mistreated women, their servants, and animals as well as the lower orders of society. Their intent, all too often,  was to amass wealth and power, if not for themselves then for a ruler or the Church, more often than not it was  not to protect the meek and mild. They raped, plundered, murdered. Even  Lancelot, that great knight of the legendary Round Table, was unable to live up to the lofty ideals assumed to be their code of conduct. After all he seduced Guinevere, his royal master’s wife.

“Children of the New Forest” was another book that stimulated curiosity and a desire to visit England. Although I had studied  the history of the English Civil war between the Royalists and Cromwell’s forces in 1642 – 49, it was confronting to encounter the widespread devastation of Oliver Cromwell’s efforts to obliterate opposition and Catholicism to impose his austere Puritan governance as Lord Protector.

Cromwell's-House,Ely-U.K
Cromwell’s-House,Ely-U.K

Cromwell is regarded by some as a great man, by others as an evil, villain. I  go with the latter opinion having seen the far reaching destruction that he ordered. Stark and sad ruins of castles, keeps, and tower houses dotted the landscape throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The far reaching area that his forces travelled, the cruelty and the damage inflicted lingers on through the centuries and is quite frightening to behold and contemplate. Sadder still is the fact that,  in spite of the lessons history has offered, humankind has not learnt to tolerate differences or live harmoniously with each other. 

Ruined castle,damaged by Croimwell's forces on the Irish coast near Dingle
Oliver Cromwell’s legacy in Ireland

A small church in the village of Burford has a plaque  that honours soldiers who took shelter there during Cromwell’s watch. They had refused to go back to Ireland to participate in the atrocities, land acquisitions and massacres. Three men who no longer wanted to  participate in such deeds were executed in the churchyard. This murderous act  was witnessed and recorded  by one of their group who had escaped up into the bell tower .

Plaque to the three soldiers killed for not wanting to do Cromwell's bidding,Burford,U.K
In Memory

Cromwell is still a figure of hatred in Ireland, his name being associated with massacre, religious persecution, and mass dispossession of the Catholic community there.” As Churchill notes, a traditional Irish curse was mallacht Chromail ort or “the curse of Cromwell upon you”. “(Wikipedia quoting from Winston Churchill in “The History of the English Speaking Peoples.The Age Of Revolution.” Dodd, Mead and Co.New York, Page 9).

Ruins of castle in Ireland damaged by Cromwells Forces. It was quite isolated.heading our from Dingle.
Rugged Beauty

Being able to see these castles was a thrill that did not wane.

Hever Castle.U.K
Hever Castle.U.K

A character has since emerged.This could be the beginning  of a series although more whimsical than historic. Perhaps also wishfully wanting to believe that the knights were protectors and guardians who practiced chivalry and were steadfast proponents of justice and fair play.

A small handmade wool felt knight
Knightly Fellow

Life Lessons

Hollow tree stump made form wool felt,fungi at base ,home to an owl family and?
At Home

Again sharing a  felt nature scene,  a hollow tree stump that has been hand stitched, appliquéd and embroidered as well as needle felted. This  hollow stump  tells a story of protection and renewal.

The log hosts various life forms within and without.

From the branch pops a tiny mouse,gently pulling on a thread that keeps it attached also manoeuvres it .
Taking a chance

Here you can see different types of fungi, and some vines,grass and moss.The little thread keeps the tiny mouse attached but also if gently pulled moves the mouse along, under and around the hollow branch.

The mouse is taking a risk but it allows an understanding of how nature has a chain of consequences and that nature is, in essence, a chain of who eats who.

A little felt snail on a yellow mushroom, another aspect of the life forms around,in and on the log
Another participant

Such a piece would also make a good story prop as well as being useful for the nature table and for nature study . Depicted are fungi, and other life forms that use the log in its decaying process to recreate life and to give shelter. Other animals could be incorporated such as snake or possum. It is a piece designed  to begin an exploration and to inspire stories and to stimulate curiosity.

A Green Affair .

Continuing green, or so it seems for the latest creation.

Felt frog puppet on lilypad
Green again

Perhaps the bleaching of the landscape under a searing summer sun has influenced the choice of that colour, as well as  the memory and yearning for the coolness  of lush green shade. Or perhaps the frog adventure has only just begun and needs to be more fully explored.

Which is how I commenced this post when thinking of it several days ago . Today we  are being drenched by the aftermath of cyclone Oswald. It is cooler and grey, the wind making it seem as if the rain is wrapping veils over the landscape and has filled areas with pale chiffon. The mountain is obscured, as is most of the bush a few yards away from the house. Several birds have taken refuge in our garage and on the back verandah. Where once was lawn, then a dust bowl, is now a fair sized pond. The wind is getting wilder, shaking the trees and wailing.

Rain again,aftermath of Oswald

Last night the bush was so alive, vibrating and resounding  to the rejoicing of many  different frog songs. Outside, as we watch, it is turning green again. what a contrast to the last few weeks of dry heat and the threat of fire. Nature has dealt a different hand.

Frog and tadpole handstitched from wool felt- original deisgns

The project that resulted while thinking green is a small finger puppet who also can hang out in a pocket or a bag to cast a cheeky eye around and share his  cheerful smile. He comes with a lily pad and a little friend. Together they tell of the life cycle of this amphibian and his fragility in the eco system .

Handstitched tadploe,side view of legs forming

Again the focus of this project is on nature, learning, curiosity, wonder and play; components that are so necessary to stimulate and encourage a child’s development and understanding .