Tag Archives: Dragons

What’s in a name?

When my super intelligent, super talented sister decided to write a blog, her biggest challenge was not how she would find the time to write (newly retired from keeping the NHS afloat, time for personal pursuits is a novelty) or what she would write about (cooking, touring, history, walking, living in the beautiful Welsh Marches etc).  No, it turned out that what caused her embryonic career as a blogger to stutter was finding a title for it.  After trying to match the expectations of her potential readers with her own ideas and aspirations she came up with this which I think works pretty well (as, indeed, do her blogs).

Duro and Helen
Duro and Helen

When I started out as a Textile Artist I wondered whether I should use my own name or come up with something a little less personal.  There were a couple of reasons: firstly, my name is not that uncommon and, coincidentally, there’s another Maria Lalic in the art world although she is higher profile and exhibits in places like the Tate; secondly, as much as I love textile art, I also love primitive craft, writing, teaching workshops, gardening and loads of other things.  I wondered about having an all-encompassing label for these things because I thought that people who liked my artwork might think that there was a multitude of people with the same name doing loads of different things.  I couldn’t come up with the umbrella term in the same way as my sister did so I settled on giving each activity a different name.  Textiles to Treasure showed off my attempts at crafts,

Mumma Doll
Mumma Doll

Rebecca Alston wrote short stories, book reviews and magazine articles and Simple Country Folk reflected my interest in gardening, simple living and self reliance.  When Lorraine from Greenweeds Web Design got involved she was adamant that everything should come under my name because she said – quite rightly – all of the different aspects of my character affected the work I produce as a Textile Artist.

I wasn’t convinced but I said goodbye to all of my alter-egos and carried on as just me.  Nowhere is this more obvious than on my twitter account where I use my 140 characters to micro blog about textile art,

Lleuadra
Lleuadra

my cat Lily,

What now?
What now?

how the garden looks,

After weeding ...
After weeding …

the weekly Porthcawl Park Run

and my treks through the local countryside.

Early morning on River Garw
Early morning on River Garw

 

Weithiau, wrth gwrs, rydw i’n ysgrifennu yn y Gymraeg achos bod diddordeb mawr ‘da fi yn yr iaith Gymraeg ac Hanes a Diwylliant Cymru ac mae llawer o bobl yn defnyddio twitter am yr un peth.   

We pretty much get stuck with the names our parents give us but of course you can wreak revenge when you name your own offspring though that is easy compared to naming pieces of artwork.  When I had my usual pop up exhibition at the year’s Wonderwool I was struggling with what to call this piece but my problem was solved by my pal, the wonderfully talented artist Miranda Bowen , who came up with a great title.

The Guardian
The Guardian

At the same event I showed some work that I had made for an exhibition that I’ll be having at Bryngarw Country Park on the 30/31 July 2016.  Exhibitions also need names! I found a snippet of a quote from the Book of Isaiah which referred to a ‘habitation of dragons and a court of owls’ so the name for the exhibition is ‘A Habitation of Dragons’ and all of the pieces of work will be inspired by dragons or dragon-lore.

The Dragon of Cwm Garw Fechan
The Dragon of Cwm Garw Fechan

That’s a lot of titles to come up with and whilst they sound a bit fictional (Heuldra, Lamia, Sreca for example), all of the names have their roots in mythology or the Welsh language.  So whilst I was standing there at Wonderwool, waxing lyrical about the variety of Textile Art I had on display, talking about the things which inspire or interest me and giving information about our NGS open garden day to just about anybody who stopped long enough to listen, a lady came up to me and said “Is this all yours?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“There’s too much,” she said, “and it’s all too different, too confusing.  I can’t cope.”  And she walked away.

I wonder what Lorraine would have to say about that.

A dweud y gwir, does dim ots ‘da fi nawr. Yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol eleni, byddaf i’n gwneud sesiwn crefft ym Maes D yn y bore ac yn siarad am fy ngardd yn y prynhawn Ddydd Gwener.  Dewch a dweud ‘Helo’ pe basech chi yno. 

Like a Wave

“You are the lovely red rowan that calms the wrath and anger of all men, like a wave of the sea from flood to ebb, like a wave of the sea from ebb to flood”

Traditional Scots Gaelic Charm.

Aunty Betty, one of our chickens, has got a prolapse.

Now, I bet two things have sprung into your mind:  firstly, you’re probably thinking that Aunty Betty’s days are numbered because you know that having a prolapse is like a death knell to a chicken; secondly, you’re wondering what Aunty Betty’s prolapse has got to do with a traditional Scots Gaelic Charm about rowan, wrath, anger and the flood and ebb of the sea.

Porthcawl Harbour at Stupid o'clock in the morning.
Porthcawl Harbour at Stupid o’clock in the morning.

Actually, in the split second it took you to read “Aunty Betty, one of our chickens, has got a prolapse”, your brain would have generated loads of other thoughts which would have flooded and ebbed like a wave in the sea of conscious awareness.  Things like: why is she called Aunty Betty?  What sort of chicken is she? How did she get a prolapse? How many chickens are there?  Do they all have names?  Why does a red rowan calm wrath and anger? What can you do with rowan berries? And so on.  In nanoseconds your brain would have filtered through the almost infinite array of Aunty-Betty and Gaelic-charm related detritus and only allowed you to become aware of one or two of the thoughts most relevant to you.

I love trees!
I love trees!

All this makes me realise that I want to know some of the thoughts are that my brain is filtering out – the seemingly unconnected pictures give you an idea of what your brain is up to.  But before we get to that, let’s go back to Aunty Betty and the Gaelic charm and answer some of the questions.

Until last week, Aunty Betty was a chicken with no name.  There are 8 chickens in all: Dee dee, Blanche, Norma Bates, Lazy Sausage, Poppit and the 3 (now 2) un-named. She was still without a name when Bleddyn the Vet opened the door into the waiting room and called for ‘Chicken Lalic’.  Examination was swift, diagnosis obvious, treatment probably futile and definitely expensive.  But, as the great Rowli Pugh always says, what else can you do with money except spend it?  Thus, Chicken Lalic had her prolapse stitched back into position with something called a ‘purse-string suture’.   So here’s the answer to the first question.  My mum’s best friend was our Aunty Betty and her surname was Pursey.  Thus, on the way home from the vets, Chicken Lalic became Aunty Betty.  Aunty Betty is a breed of chicken called a Warren.  These are the unfortunates that end up in battery cages and are intensively farmed (but not here at Scarecrow Cottage).  They don’t live long (even without the battery cages and the intensive farming) but they are lovely, docile birds who do a lot of contented cooing and – in their short lives – lay a lot of eggs.  As a result, prolapses are almost inevitable.  One of the saddest things about a prolapse is it brings out the dinosaur in the rest of the chickens.  You can end up with a chicken run that looks like the gory bits of Jurassic Park.  For her own good, Aunty Betty is now in isolation which she is quite enjoying, thank you very much.

Aunty Betty
Aunty Betty

The Rowan Tree –  currently dabbed with scarlet berries in this wettest of summers in Wales – was once known as the Tree of Life.  Its berries were thought to prolong life (but the seeds are poisonous to children) and boiled – the berries, not the children –  they produce a strong orange colour dye.  In Scotland, particularly, the wood was thought to have magical properties and many believed it to be a tree that protects against evil and violence.  According to legend, rowan trees were guarded by dragons and dragons guarded by rowan trees.  This is very interesting to me as I’m researching dragons for my next piece of Textile Art.  It’s amazing how many books about dragon lore are available and how much of what has been written is from the standpoint that not only did dragons exist but that in some parts of the world, still thrive; that the only reason they have become creatures of myth and legend is because humans now dismiss the intangible as unreal.

Dragonshoard
Dragonshoard

The last time I did a dragon inspired piece of textile art was in 1983.  Back in those days, I wasn’t very creative.  I’d used space dyed threads to get the shading and my idea of texture was a couple of seed beads.  The dragon wasn’t even my idea of a dragon but an image that I’d copied from somewhere.  Now I’m busy collecting ideas

Carvings at Nantgwrtheyrn
Carvings at Nantgwrtheyrn

and textures

Dragon Scales?
Dragon Scales?

Then I’m going to sit in the sun with Aunty Betty and a sketchbook and slow the flood and ebb of the waves of my mind and see what happens.  Happy Dragon Hunting!