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Just got a small pile of hardback volumes of my long poem, “The House of Trees”. Quite pleased with how they have come out. After a few false starts, I went with Blurb. Having a solid book with paper pages is a joy. Not aiming for any mass market ( wherever that is ), particularly with poetry!

If anyone is interested, a few copies are available from http://www.greenmanshop.co.uk so please go and have a look.

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Each spread has an image page facing the text pages, derived from photographs I took in Skye last autumn.

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For a change, and to show what else whitters my time away, I thought I would show some of the jewellery projects I have been slowly working at this year. Firstly, and most recently, a series of dragon designs.

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This one, quite a Gothic dragon, pre-Raphaelite even, is becoming quite a sharp-lined heraldic pendant ( not quite ready to show yet).

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This one is a nice design to make in thick sheet silver, giving a smooth, tactile simplicity – and relatively few fiddly bits to smooth out or file.

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Having sold the first one, I am making another now. It can be economical to get originals cast, but it is also nice to make each piece from scratch as they then have their own quirks and personalities. The new one of these ‘Double Dragons’ have eyes more prominently, for example….

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I work on iPad using Zen Brush, a simple and elegant app that allows me to sketch away with minimum farting around with knobs and menus. It has disadvantages, but the ease of flow is more valuable for working out this type of design work. The next few designs are part of the same series and, I think, work out very well in silver. Simple but with elegant line the style is somewhat Oriental, Asian with a smattering of other influences here and there….

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I am just finishing off these couple of designs. The first has found a new home, so I have remade another, the second I look forward to see polished and mounted up on its chain.

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Hopefully, a few more will be completed soon, and I will show them then….

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If you look at the white pattern above, the peltas can be seen at six, ten and two o-clock, they resemble cross-sections of mushrooms.

1
TORC TALK (PELTA MOTIF)

Well, it was a long time ago that I covered Celtic Art in Art History, and I was never particularly happy with the name labels often given to Celtic motifs, so I suppose confusing a pelta with a trumpet spiral is to be a little expected (particularly when one can be made up of elements of the other). Nonetheless ,that error was mine. As I was playing with the comma-like form of the magatama it morphed into the cresent-like, arced, spiral-ended, mushroom cross-section known as a ‘pelta’.

This name, ‘pelta’ comes from a type of light shield used by the Greeks and Romans, deriving from an original used in Thrace. This itself tells us more about the natural territory and training of Classicalocentric art historians than about the direct connections between a Classical object and a Celtic motif. Look at the prevalent lines in any Early Celtic design and there is a predominance of curvilinear and vegetal forms. Add to that a predeliction for mirroring, reflection and interaction between foreground and background patterns and it is easy to see ‘pelta-like’ forms sprouting up in abundance. The logic of associating the ‘pelta’ motif with a meaning of ‘shield’ is stretched when it can so so much more easily be read as ‘tree’, ‘leaf’, ‘simplified palmette’, ‘reflected crescent moons’ or ‘horns’. In some Classically rendered and stylised imagery, this shape may indeed refer to a martial attribute. But to carry that meaning over onto a similar looking, purely Celtic motif may be far too simplistic, or just simply, inaccurate.

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What drew me in the first place to look again at the pelta motif was the realisation that it, or its negative shape, closely echoes the shape of the neck collar or ‘torc’, a connection that I am not sure has been noticed before. Looking at a lot of Celtic art, and especially redrawing the imagery, one comes to understand the importance of what is not there – negative space, void, background….

2
TORC TALK- (FIRST THEN)

First then
There is no object,
No thing that does not trawl
A train of intent and opinion,
That does not feel,
Draw with it more of itself
From the invisible.
Nothing that does not speak.
(if you hear nothing but silence, go within it, find its shape and you shall here the words come in and out, for nothing, no thing is voiceless)

Nothing
That has not been born
From a before.
Everything
Has been born
From something else.
Nothing not jealous of its edges. Nothing that will not melt and merge one day into becoming somewhere else. Nothing, in essence, that does not hunger to remain, that does not hunger and feed.

Where to start? It makes no matter where you start. Simply begin. The road is twist and dip but leads to the same shining place…

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3
FOR THE GODS ALONE

Beauty is for the gods alone.
This gold – no use for plough or warrior,
No use, no use on Earth.
Beauty belongs to the gods,
And to those who talk to them,
To those who speak to them,
To those who belong to them.

A torc, an open ring of twisted wire, often gold, with terminals, cast and decorated finials. Worn as a neck ring. Wires, strings, ropes, woven light, woven and woven, golden rope to tie the soul, to show adherence, obedience, obeisance,obligation to the spirits….

A circle not a circle, an arc, a passage of time, a record of space.
A perforation, the head pushed through
To the airs of heaven,
Upper world,
A division of head from body,
No longer just human:
Owned, illuminated,
Ardour, radiant.
The weight of it:
Not easy to ignore,
It is meaning, a glow..

If the pelta symbol is the negative space of the torc- its contained space – then the pelta occupies the same space as the head. Pelta is head. Head is home of spirit. Pelta is spirit. In some coins of the tribes of Brittany the horse rider’s heads have transmuted into pelta shapes.

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4
HORIZON’S EDGE

I am the passage of the sun
From dawn to dusk
A woven line of light
To the top of heaven,
To the horizon’s edge.

I am the river of night,
Golden river underground
From dusk to dawn,
A gold thread
Through ancestors’ bones.

Torc is map, halo, sun glow.
A mirror moon, empty,
Crescent, full, crescent,
Empty. Woven around
Each other, silver, gold,
Day, night, copulated,
Seeded…

5
ENSOULED

Seed of the sun
Spilt at sunset
Mated with earth,
Gathered up, gathered up,
Cold made hot once more,
Melted, breathed upon,
Revived, ensouled,
Sung to, given song,
Given name, given sinew,
Given nerve, wound about.
Gold, giver of glory,
Animated, it whispers,
All the time, it whispers.

Should you know its spells
You will prosper,
Should you know its songs
You will be victorious,
Should you know its name,
You shall be returned home
Golden and ever-young.
For it has no end
And its wearer shall remain.
Its giver shall be blessed,
And blessed the receiver.

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So how should one receive a torc? Many images show the torc being held in the hand. It is held at the centre, midway between the terminals. Displayed, it is held with open ends upwards toward heaven, like a cup to receive the blessings from above. It is shown offered in the same way, with open end towards the recipient. Is it taken possession of by the two hands grasping the finials? Does the giver carefully hold the ring so that the receiver can echo the hold on the opposite side, both joined in obligation for a moment,and then forever, by that golden link, like the passing of a goblet? Is the name whispered? The promise named? The duty proclaimed? In that moment one and one become roped, twisted, bound together, charged with divine power…

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And as to the making: that wire beaten, stretched, thin and thinner. Taken with others, woven, wound, round, wrapped, mated, united. What spells added, what songs, what promises, what life, what given birth to. ( There are images of swords with dragon spirit beings attached -their sharp souls, snake fast, embedded, the metal a home for other life, given honour, given flesh food). Do the finials give face and eyes to the embedded spirit? Are they of one kind? Are they many? Are they moulded each to each, to be hunted out like fast hounds scent their masters, bound by similarity of spirit?

Here shall be a list,
A reckoning,
A call of names,
A summoning of spirits:

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NAMED

My name is
‘far from home’

My name is
‘forgotten, lost,
Misplaced’

I name myself
Under all the names
Others have bestowed.
I name myself the seed
The root, the star
Hid by cloud.

I name myself
‘moonlight on roofs’,
Hugged hollowness,
Footsteps echoing.

I name myself
‘mystery, scribble,
Equation’
Mistaken meaning,
A long road alone.

I name myself
‘roaring voice,
Bitterness, waker’
Too polite to manifest
World’s joy in wrath.

I name myself
‘uncertainty principle,
Void, precipice’.
Carrying a carapace,
A studied, practiced armour.

I name myself
‘foolish mirror,
Cascading breath,
Contusion of thought,
Knot’.
A persistence of error,
Circuitous conclusion,
Stumbled silence.

I name myself
‘No one is alone,
Wedded to their shadow’
Given form, formed,
Framed, fragmented.
By their shade
shall ye know them.

I name myself
‘rapture, remote view,
Releaser, pinion,
Branch, web, slurry’.
A cascade of chivied cells
Unconcerned, nested.

I name myself
‘shattered, frozen,
rainbow’
Shard spinning,
Glint and gone.

Each name an edge,
An arrived at limit,
A turning away.

Each, a thin ledge
Gratefully clung to,
A place to leap from.

I name myself
‘not object, not subject.’
I name myself
‘vowel’ with no
Restraining consonant,
A howl,
No glottal stop.

The sound of morning.
The sound of evening.
I call myself
‘remaining,
Abiding,
Concealment’.

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( the sketch is for a silver pendant i am designing: dragon dance. Sort of sums up flaming throught the void that these words also evoke, I think)

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