from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Monday, 20 July 2015

summer rain

Look who I met in the forest yesterday. There are three of them, though you can only see two. I hope they’re feral, not just escapees who’ll be found and rounded up again.

Well, it rains. And rains. Like back home. But then, one of the reasons I like this area (in addition to the fact that the town is twinned with St Just, my family home) is because it reminds me of Dartmoor but with everything scaled up, and so much more wooded.

So of course I could stay in and write. And I am still not writing; but rereading Geoff Dyer’s book Out of Sheer Rage; think I’ve mentioned it before. It’s a great book about not writing; in his case not writing a book about D H Lawrence.

I tell myself I really need a holiday, with no agenda – not even writing. And that’s true, too.

Yesterday afternoon I distracted myself a treat; I went into town, looked at the tranquillity of the lake, just lightly dimpled with mizzle, watched the swallows winging so low for insects – around our ankles – that they swam, like fish.

And oh I found another bookshop – a wonderful 2nd-hand bookshop stuffed with lovely inexpensive books, mainly English. I gathered up a handful (I could hear TM in my head: do you really need another 7 to add to the 2000 at home? Well, on a wet solo Sunday when I need to practise more avoidance tactics, the answer of course is yes…)

Then I went to the summer show in l’Ecole des Filles – a big art space with a big reputation. This was a mixed show titled ‘Briser le toit de la maison – le sacré dans l’art’ – breaking the roof of the house – the sacred in art. In the flier, they quote that scholar of the sacred, notably the shamanic, Mircea Eliade: ‘Quelque chose de sacré se montre à nous’ – something of the sacred is showing itself to us’, a phrase I love.  

As always, much of it was interesting, and some pieces more powerful than others. There were a number of Chinese contributors – I think because of the provenance of the gallery and its origins – with, as you’d expect, quite a degree of stillness in the work; though one of them had depicted la Forêt de Huelgoat here, in its size and energy, with a matching turbulence. Photos were allowed but presumably not full reproduction, so here is a tiny corner of this painting:

I loved the work of Matthieu Dorval with its abstractions and vigorous colour, and the altogether different work of Loïc le Groumellec, whose preoccupation is with the prehistoric legacy of this country.

I came home longing to paint again; my fingers itching for a palette knife, my eyes for the non-verbal growth of something. Once upon a time I painted, and even sold; but I’ve done nothing now for several years, and am almost afraid to begin again.

But I’m storing the impressions up. Who knows.


  1. I know how you feel about writing and painting. I love your paintings of Iona, by the way.
    I feel so busy just living that writing and painting seem to come second... but I think about colours and look at views and wonder what mix would replicate how I feel... etc.
    Writing is harder... Of course, I have my daily journal entries, but they are mostly reminders of what I did yesterday! Occasionally a sentence rears up that feels new....
    Keep storing those impressions. Must be good. It's like a pressure cooker... suddenly you will blow!

  2. Thanks, Veronica. A day or two after I posted this, two of my dearest friends joined me for the last few days, and H, who'd read this, brought me a set of oil painting materials (I didn't take any out), so now I have no excuse. And - after that blog - I did start writing again, a little.

    Nice to hear from you. Don't you think that writing and painting are also part of living and need to be indulged if one is a creative? I'm smiling here; I haven't forgotten the very lovely studio you built.



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