The Forever Search
I found a mermaid’s purse on the beach at Ynys Llanddwyn.
When I picked it up it felt powerful. A rush of thoughts came to me like I was absorbing some magic from holding it. The word “secret” flew around me. It’s like these thoughts are secret. The mermaid’s purse’s contents are a secret. Female power is a secret. What we choose to let out of our purse and what we choose to keep for ourselves is the power.
This painting was started & completed while on my residency in Anglesey. I happened to be there the two weeks prior to the first lockdown where everything felt very nervy, like the land beneath our feet was shifting.
I listened to a song called 'Shape Shifter' by Laura Veirs over and over, and this painting came while absorbing these feelings.
The lyrics to her song are: Shape shifter
Thousands in the air
Moving as one
Magic flocks the reaches
I'm speechless on the ground
Black blizzard round a cold grey sun
Winter's on the way
I think we're gonna make it out
If we stick together now
I walked across the sea
Using two chairs as my stepping stones
It was easy at the shoreline
Where the water was shallow
But to be honest
I wasn’t really going anywhere.
There came a time when
I got kindo bored
Took to the depths
Standing on one chair
Pulling the other
Over the top
Then standing on it
This place is familiar
I’m sure I’ve been down
It was a bit tricky
Getting past the tangle
But once the chair legs
Had come free
The only thing left to battle with
Was the salty sea itself.
I believe this painting is rooted in Hoy, Orkney where I am from, but it holds that feeling of scattered energy... Not really of a specific place or time.
It is a painting of a bay, of sea and shore, of undercurrents and whirlpools, and pulling tides, of a returning theme I seem to be drawn towards; the opposites of safety and danger.
This painting is a wee favourite of mine and at present it lives on my bedroom wall. There were SO MANY layers in it while I moved through it trying to figure out what I wanted to express. And it settled here in this rather bonkers place. I would call this painting a bit of a break-through painting. I learnt to accept something pretty deep and brave about where I wanted to go with my art explorations in the making of this one. The energy I get from it is full of joy and hope, and I think it will keep giving forever.
It is an offering from the sea and fairy world.
The shopkeeper gets a glance
If they so wish when
I flash my card
And pay for stuff.
Do you keep a picture
Of your loved ones in yours?
I barely empty mine
And it gets hard to close.
Do you think a mermaid means to drop hers?
On the shore.
I guess it makes it hard to swim
A precious find of invisible contents.
Invisible contents are so precious.
As The Arrows Whistled Along With The Tune
Inspired by the story of St Magnus refusing to fight against the Norman earls and their army while he was under the control of King Magnus Bare-legs at the Battle of the Menai Straits in 1098. He sat on the longship singing from his Psalter, as the arrows whistled along with the tune.
My time on Anglesey was a fantastic exploration of lifeboats & ship wrecks, quarries and mines, islands and kirks and lighthouses and fairy tales and rabbit holes…
At the beginning of my stay on Anglesey I worried and wondered about whether inspiration was here for me, knowing my grounded inspiration was somewhere else and deep down I feared I would struggle.
How wrong I was… It was easy to find, and easy to find comparisons also, to Orkney and other places and stories from Scotland, where I must admit I feel secure and rooted.
This was further cemented in my email correspondence with Orkney storyteller Tom Muir when he asked me gently…
“You do realise that Anglesey was where St Magnus (still just plain old Mansie at that time) refused to fight against the Norman earls and their army while he was under the control of King Magnus Bare-legs in 1098? It was at the Battle of the Menai Straits that he sat on the longship singing from his Psalter, as the arrows whistled along with the tune.” ?
Well no, I hadn’t realised this!
But yes further proof that we are all connected, and exploration is our own selfish endeavour.
Thank you Tom for the title inspiration.
Winner Of The Fitzroy Prize For Painting 2020
These are the last paintings from the collection created after winning this
competition on the theme of “The Weather Forecast” and in conjunction with the 160th anniversary of The Royal Charter Storm.