Thursday, 4 May 2017

Books & Beauty

In recent weeks, the postman has brought me some beautiful things.

First came a spotted pardalote necklace, which is also a whistle, for my birthday. Though I have never seen one, in theory these birds do make their home in the Blue Mountains, so I shall have to keep an eye out for them from now on.

Then came Sylvia Linsteadt’s long-awaited Tatterdemalion, a post-apocalyptic novel inspired by the art of Rima Staines. 

I’ve been waiting for this book since I first read Witch Bottle, an excerpt from the then novel-in-progress, published in Dark Mountain: Issue 4, in the northern summer of 2013—almost four years ago! Then the publishing process, after a month of crowd-funding, took over a year, so the wait has been long and expectations have been high. The book I now have in my hands is a thing of beauty, filled with Rima’s extraordinary, earthy and strange art, from which Sylvia’s poetic, wild, myth-filled story was birthed. 

For more information about the book and how it came to be, please click here and watch the video, in which Sylvia says:

The novel is really a call to attention. Right now we’re surrounded by environmental, cultural, social collapse, and embedded in this dominant narrative, that really treats land and animals, plants, stones, water, people, and especially marginalised peoples, as objects to be used, rather than subjects to be honoured and respected in their own right. So we’re really in great need of new narratives and new stories to help us reimagine what it means to be human in a more-than-human world.

I've said it before myself—we desperately need new stories. So, if you are interested in reading this greatly needed new story, special editions of Tatterdemalion can still be purchased via Unbound, though a trade edition has also just been released. Most importantly, you will be supporting a young writer in making a living from her craft.

And if you are not familiar with the work of either Sylvia or Rima, I suggest you take a look at their magnificent blogs, which have partially inspired my own humble efforts in the blogosphere. They are both wise and talented women: Sylvia at The Gleewoman’s Notes and Rima at The Hermitage

Next came Kate Walters’s Iona Notebooks, a limited edition book published by Guillemot Press, composed of paintings, drawings and writing that Kate made during residencies on the Hebridean island of Iona.

I first came across Kate’s work through the Dark Mountain books (with works published in issues 6 and 10), and (the sadly now defunct) EarthLines magazine, in issues 10 and 12, as well as gracing the front and back covers of the very last issue.

What intrigued me about her work was not just the subject matter, style and aesthetic, but her working methods, which are shamanic in nature, drawing forth imagery from a womb-like and unknown place. She uses a technique which she calls ‘becoming the hollow bone’, in which she

instruct[s her] ego and personality to step aside to allow other voices to come through. Using the drum, strong intention, and the drawn mark [she is] able to respond in the moment to humans or trees or place … (‘Featured Artist: Kate Walters – Riding into Darkness on my Horse-of-Music-Body’, EarthLines, Issue 12: July 2015, p. 66). 

She often works with her eyes closed and with her non-dominant hand (a technique I have been inspired to try myself), and especially explores the connections and interactions between humans and animals, and the Divine Feminine.

I bought the Iona Notebooks, which came with six postcards as well, as a birthday present to myself. It is a book of beauty, shamanic wisdom and inspiration which I will treasure.

For more information about Kate and her work, please pay a visit to her website.

Lastly, a friend gave me a pure white cyclamen to congratulate me on my first year of blogging.


  1. How are you THerese & how is your Dad & Mum? I don't get around much now except driving Ollie to & from preschool at Rooty Hill on Mondays & Tuesdays. Going to see Mark, who is in a nursing home at Merrylands & Clem at Wollongong. Clem picks me up from Merrylands & drives me to his place. I have to have a knee operation next month at Westmead clinic day surgery.
    Keep up the blog & congratulations for one year. Love Josiex

    1. Thank you, Josie. It sounds like you are still very busy. Mum and dad are well. All the best for the operation. Let us know how it goes.

  2. I highly approve of giving gifts to oneself to mark special occasions (or for any reason at all). Happy belated birthday and Samhain, what riches for the closing in of days!

  3. Oh what treasures, indeed, Therese!
    Funnily enough, I've literally just blogged about treasures...
    Sending warm Spring wishes your way xx

    1. Thank you, Claire. Autumn blessings from Down Under. x

  4. Tatterdamalion is such a thing of beauty. I had very high expectations (and they only grew higher during the long wait...) but now that I have the book in my hands I can see it really does exceed all my expectations. The story, the art and the way they have been bound together, it´s such a treasure!

    The art in the last Earthlines was the first time I saw Kate Walters´s art and I was captivated by it, it´s so powerful. The Iona book looks like a real treasure as well.

    Happy blog anniversary.:)

    1. Yes, it is truly a thing of wonder. I haven't started reading it yet—I am waiting for the right time—but I know it will be amazing, and just what I need.

      I've very much captivated by Kate's work. Bringing forth unknowns from the dark is precisely what I would love to do myself, in my own art. She inspires me, helps me to see what is possible.

      Thank you!


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