First Day on Dartmoor

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I am still working on my collages, but I got a bit distracted with this one as I was going through some old files.

This photograph has great resonance for me, as it was the first day that we went up to Dartmoor shortly after moving to Devon.

The air was clear and full of frost, and I was so happy to be there. Something about that light was strange, picture-book almost.

(A little change from the rain that we have here at the moment, we are surrounded by water and it doesn’t look to be stopping!)

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C.E.Rennie, 2014

Memories of Forests and of Growing Small

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Storybook Trees

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Since a young girl, I have always been intrigued by imaginings of size.

In nature, I loved to imagine how it would look to be grown tiny, and dropped into these places. I would often kneel, gazing deeply into small mossy nooks, through curled hillside bilberry strands, into tangles of branches and thorns. At the beach, I would find those deep, crusted and feathered green pools, gaze and mentally sink under the water and swim. I loved, and still love, to imagine a world changed size, trickle become river, thorn become tree..

Life to a spiders eye, a flea, a worm.

Sometimes, in bed at night, I had half awake dreams of becoming larger and smaller. My eyes tight closed, I lay and imagined. I could feel my hands, my legs, my torso, growing, then shrinking. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.

It was almost a surprise to open my eyes and find myself the same size, I believed the imaginings so much.

My mum and I would play with pine cones in the wood near to our house, stacking them up to make “houses”, and singing the poetry by Pooh,

“Here is a myst’ry

About a little fir-tree

Owl says it’s his tree

And Kanga says it’s her tree”

I had forgotten all these things somehow, until my visit to the woods, and this picture came to be.

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Memories of Cows and Bulls.

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Memories of Cows and Bulls:

Small. Exploring in a field by the reservoir, fascinated by wild flowers, worms, humming flies, long wet grass. Unseen, a crowd of young bulls in the distance. Sudden! thunder in the floor – chasing, bulky firm inquisitive hooves, wet noses, towards me, a crowd, my tiny frame. Tumble back to fence, forwards not behind, breath high, wet face, fall through long wet grass, wind in my ears, scramble over. Safe. Hate cows.

Ireland. Young adult. Green, rolling lane, early evening. Scent of retreating sunlight and seasalt. Hand in hand. A small field, cow and calf. Calf walks to mother, nose touch. Tenderness close to melancholy. Mother licks side of calf with small strokes. Silence in their circle. Moment without breath.

Mid-Adult. Sudden illness. Walking, pain, reduced to shadows of steps. Daily therapeutic up and downs with embarrassing stick along the lane under the curve of Ditchling Beacon. Flanked by animals, left to right, sheep, cows, horses. Scent of flowers and green. Pain, up and down, side to side. Forward step by step. Look right to see large, stolid body of cow standing in buttercup field. Stop to gaze. Lean. Breathe. Such a large, firm body, she stretches, curves backwards and sideways to lick flank. Such a tender motion, such grace. Delicacy in large, sinuous frame so touching. So quiet. A small light of sun on my back.

Adult. Cornwall. Small house only just inland. Take tea out to garden. Whole hand of sun comforts head, a memory, stroking to face. Wild, young bulls by wall at end of garden. I’m larger now, less afraid. Though glad of the wall. They munch garden flowers, almost skid down wall, nudge and budge, feckless hooves, snort, puff, naughty eyes. Energy of children.

Present. Daily walks up to top of lane. So glad of it. Walk up to hill. Long view over valley and distant cars spiral. Lean on gate, catch breath. Cows rest quietly, moon filled eyes. Proud horns down in the muscle man arm shape. Tearing at hay through the bars with tender lips and teeth like stones. Heavy, weighted bodies lump down to soil. Stare. Ears flick. Flies land, bounce off. Mud and earth. Something sure.

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© C.E. Rennie, 2013

Love for the Tune..

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As I am writing about my favourite things at the moment, I wanted to illustrate my love for singing, writing and performing music. I was a performing singer/songwriter and musician for several years until ill health meant I had to stop for a while. I am slowly taking steps back towards performing but it is very emotional and challenging to do it again and I think it will take some time.

I thought I would share this video with you in case you have not visited my music page here. It’s odd, but as I post this my heart is thumping…I think that watching it reminds me of great and brave times, when I sang and travelled and met amazing people and really got out into the world..it is hard sometimes to remember things you have lost..but this will always be my true heart and soul, and even if I can never perform again to the level that I used to, I am so glad that I did it.

This is quite an old song to me now, my music and outlook has changed so much (although the video was made in 2010 I wrote the song in 2003). It shows a little of the journey that I went on, through life and music, and the moving times of a travelling musician..

I hope you enjoy it!

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Memories of Freedom and Movement

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Do I really remember how this felt? Or is it just the photograph that’s reminding me?

I remember the earliest of mornings, in South Africa, before the heat hit. It was warm, even then, but cool enough to move. A dusty lane and this field of pale green. A hard few weeks behind us, we were searching for something. We couldn’t sleep, we woke, we walked.

I remember wanting the moment, but I’m not sure if I felt it, was aware. Somehow though, in this photograph, it is there, I can feel it.

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I remember, flying, on a bike, aged 10. Down the hill, round the corner, round and fast, thundering in gulps of air. Feet let go of pedals. Filling my lungs to the brim.

He said, riding behind me, laughing, “Are you enjoying it, Cath?!”

“YES!”

“YES I AM!”

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Sometimes that sense of freedom seems lost to me. As if there is a blanket lying over the sky. And I can’t see through. I can’t get beyond it. I feel chained in, a chain of this cloud. A small gap, unreachable. Heads seem bowed beneath, a crowd.

I turn to my memories..

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I remember finding something in this small room in the mountains. Switzerland. I remember the air, mostly. And old trains. A breeze of distant snow. But warm.

At the foot of the mountain, just outside of this window, a woman was bathing her baby in a small tin bath, outside, in the grass, in the sun.

I remember the quiet of it. The water against the tin.

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I remember flying over desert. Huge gorge like cracks in the earth, tiny signs of habitation, what looked like houses, scattered between in the vast space.

(I could tiptoe on this white line..)

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Sometimes it’s in an empty, straight road, in the night time.

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And still more come to me,

in the sound of grasses in the breeze..

Exhale. Fill again. Sweeping. Exhilerated.

Salty sea breaths, open spaces, horses. Running. Manes flying.

First fly on first motorbike. Green lanes. Speed blurred green. Freedom sweet and angry. Big boots, hot body of bike. Petrol cloud. Fuck You.

Corners. lanes, seashores, the moment on waves as they break, the hills at night. Kilve beach cliffs, over layers of unimaginable time and fossil.

Moon chasing. Singing loud. Rock and crying heart. Music and smoke. Smoke by the dashboard, driving. Dreams of beyond.

Train rides home..  From city to green and back again. Soundtrack in ears. Dusty breeze. Books and pencil scrawls. Lumpy case and inconvienient bike. Curled up in seat, feet tucked up. Rooftops pylons bridges Trees hills cows pylons rooftops Trees… Blurring.

Discovering the Hope Bay bus. Sweeping out from the city. Upper deck, books and notepads. Cold aluminium rail. Rocking left to right to left again. Rottingdean, Peacehaven, Seaford and down. All roads lead to the sea. Jumping out, hot ground, warm back. Running, open, grasses, horses, the cliffs, the sea! Sleep under stars. Sunstroke by the evening. Fully complete.

These things surround me, leaves in a storm..

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Cut Paper Wishes

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Just thought I’d post up a few of my papercuts, to brighten things up here a little!  I wouldn’t exactly say that they are the best work I have ever created, but I love to make these little pictures. They take a very long time but that’s kind of what I like about making them. They sit on my desk, gradually evolving day by day, cut by cut. It’s incredibly therapeutic!

These were all made as gifts for friends and family.

The last one is one I made for my friends wedding. It is the first one I ever did, so it’s a little scratchy and bent around the edges, and part of James’ name fell off…! But I sort of like it for its slightly rubbish-ness. I’ve since found much better paper to work with, this was made using a fine card – I didn’t realised quite how difficult I was making things for myself using it..! (I patched up the name before I gave it to them, and nobody noticed 🙂 )

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My Grandad’s Artwork

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Paintings by my Grandad, James William Stone, as a young man.

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We’ve only just come across these pictures of my Grandad’s, in an old folder of his. I just love them. Grandad was never a full time artist, but drawing, painting and making things were always a passion for him. He taught woodwork at a school for a time, and passed on this joy to many others I would imagine. I have a table in my house that his woodwork students made for him when he was leaving the school. It’s a lovely wooden coffee table,and they have carved their names all around the underside. I often wonder what happened to these young boys.

He made these pictures as a young man, from ink. They are very different to his later style, which became more about figures, family scenes and painted landscapes. I think these pictures have the energy and boldness of a young man’s heart, full of passion and experimentation. I can feel that anticipation of things to come, stepping into the adult world, most probably a rather uncertain one at that time. I love that there is a tiny pin mark in the top, which makes me think that he may have pinned it on his wall at some stage.

My memories of Grandad are a little hazy, as he sadly died when I was 12. But all through my life, Grandads work has been there, in paintings on our walls, in the toys he made for us as children, and in the little handmade gifts he would give at birthdays and Christmases. He had an art of quietly seeing people, and would often sketch us and make little watercolour scenes of us all running about, playing, and climbing trees. He and Gran had a deep love of nature, and would often go on walking holidays, where he would make sketches, and then turn them into paintings, lovely visual histories of their travels and adventures together.

One picture that I particularly love is one of trees that my Gran always spoke of, and which still hangs on her wall. They had been walking along a path through a forest, and Gran remembers the sun shining fiercely through the leaves. She loved it, and said with happiness, “Oh, it is a green world!”.When they got home, Grandad said, “I’m going to paint your green world”. And he did. I always remember my Gran telling me this story as she sat in a chair underneath the painting, full of light. Her eyes were so happy with the memory. How lovely to be able to leave behind such things, that continue to give happiness years after the event.

Grandad had a workshop in his garage when I was a child, which I loved to visit. Even now I can vividly recall the aromas of wood, pipe smoke, dust and paint. And the smell of mystery and the unknown. It seemed like an inventors cave, and you never knew what was going to come out of there.

Grandad was very humble about his painting, and I never remember him having an ego about it – he just did it because he loved it. It is sad to me that he died just after his retirement, as he was about to consider starting to put out some of his work for exhibition. So this is my little mini exhibition for him.

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