The magic of circles

The magic of circles

I spent some delicious time over Christmas playing in the studio and thinking deeply about what I want my next series to explore. 

I’m no way done with my Everyday Magic series. I actually feel like I am just beginning and my interest and understanding is ever deepening. There are some very personal spells that I would very much like to conjure in the coming months.

So as ever, I start with the grounds- the surface upon which I will work, which is pure play. A dance between control and serendipity using raw pigment, liquid watercolours, gold leaf and paint and lots of water.

I have been thinking lots about circles. Circles are powerful. What do you want to keep in your inner-circle, what do you want to keep out? They are a boundary, and a never ending line, with no beginning or end. A symbol of wholeness, oneness and unity and simultaneously a barrier and a protection.

I love the idea of carefully choosing the things we want close, to help us. And equally defining our needs by those things we want to cast out of our inner-circle, which may hinder us. 

Working from direct observation is always the biggest thrill for me. The process is like a performance. Getting myself set-up. Getting in the right frame of mind. Checking in with my physical state and as far as possible completing the recording of my subject in one sitting- as conditions change and coming back is never the same. Here's a timelapse as an example. 

This limits me greatly- physically- intense focus is hard to maintain for more than a couple of hours without a break and of course my life-responsibilities- school drop-off and pick-up, work and other duties that make my painting days short.

There is also the practical challenge- what can I actually get my hands on to draw? The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and Cambridge Zoology Museum, have been an enormous help here, allowing me access to the collections behind the scenes (read more here). As have amazing ecologist friends who have helped me get set up to trap moths and work from live specimens (read more about what led to this decision here). Although it turns out that live moths sometimes have an agenda of their own!

But, now I hope to conjure spells featuring particular animals, I wonder if it will be possible to actually observe and work from live specimens. This has lead to some pretty surreal conversations this week- as I wondered whether it would be possible to see a hibernating animal. Before you report me to the authorities, I have learnt a lot about the law! There are only three native animals that hibernate and two of them (bats and dormice) you would need a licence to go near! The third, hedgehogs are obviously not easy to find and shouldn’t be disturbed anyway. 

Back to the drawing board to start with the less complicated elements this week! Holly and ivy looking resplendent in their prime. Here a the results from a couple of really lovely painting sessions in a snuggly winter studio which I'll be sharing as timelapses in the coming weeks.

If you'd love to watch an artist play, you can see timelapses on my Youtube Channel and make sure you follow me on socials where I’ll be posting regular updates, so you can enjoy the process of bringing the magic to life with me! Click below to see a couple of videos of the ground creations.

 Also if you want to see some finished magic spells in person, I am delighted to announce that my current Everyday Magic Exhibition at Satyam Yoga Centre, Cambridge, UK has been extended at their request, until March. So pop along and harness some enchantment for yourself! Details below.


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