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Beagle For Beauty - Feb 2021

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings! He, too, is no mean preacher: Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.

- William Wordsworth, taken from The Tables Turned

Dearest friends,

What an invitation, to go forth into the light of things! After so much seclusion, tucked away in our wintery quarantine burrows we may be yearning for any type of going forth. I encourage you to enjoy the full gem of this poem which my friend Leah Boden shared on Clubhouse this week. Spring defiant is showing her presence with every sprouting shoot, while politicians lift the bottle top off of lockdown and the fragrance of liberty and adventure teases. I cannot wait to go forth how about you? I know not everyone is as keen for the re-entry, for many it brings further anxiety and worrying thoughts about safety and the pressing sense of needing to rejoin the rush and hurry. I think we each need to find our own pace and path, being kind to ourselves and each other.

January has seemed long and tiring, I'm not gonna lie, I've had to fight for beauty and sniff it out with renewed determination this month. It certainly helped to be in my new studio space and experimenting with the light. I've also spent much time in the garden, prepping raised beds, clearing rubbish, getting a fire pit! Beauty needs to be apprehended, scooped up, captured and framed, even if for a moment. Speaking of this you'd love to read The Bright Field by R.S. Thomas.

Now, without further ado, onto this month's Still Life.

The image at the top is the first in a series of three called The Beauty In Afterlife. Having no fresh flowers yet and with the house move, I drew upon the treasures I already had, dried and preserved loveliness. Do you also see the marvellous wooden base and ivy? This was found behind the derelict shed, it's stunning, I'll have to show it off properly next time. These dried Clematis stems and seeds are wonderful, they seem to have movement and dance to them,

The third is very similar to the first but with a slightly different composition. These were basically my first test shots in the new space with my chalky backdrop and natural materials. I have an ambitious project ahead to recreate an aged Tuscan wall, we will see. I also have a very exciting new friend to share with you next month who's been in the pipeline for a few weeks and something I've dreamed of for the past year. I have a funny story to go with it too from when I was about 5 years old and growing up in the countryside. I'm looking forward to telling you that story!

Reading: I'm thoroughly enjoying my new poetry book for Lent and Easter, The Heart's Time by Janet Morely. I'd love to share one with you that's really been speaking to me. I don't come from a traditional church background at all, in fact I came to the Lord late, 27, and my first church was Charismatic/Pentecostal, we had no traditions and I only found out what liturgy was in my mid 40's. This is the first year I've been curious to explore Lent and from my experiences with embracing Advent the past 5 years I was encouraged to take the same approach - through art.

Advent and Lent have come to me gently and quietly as invitations to see Jesus through the language of the arts. This particular book presents a daily poem accompanied by a little unpacking of the prose and some devotional connections that lead the reader to contemplation. Here is my favourite from last week:

Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf,

Barer than blackthorn in its winter sleep,

All unadorned. Unlike Christmas which decrees