top of page

The Last Beagle As You Know It

Greetings my friends!

I hope you've had a wondrous and gentle March? If not, I hope and pray you've had light for the way and grace for your heart.


The sun is shining gloriously here today and I am playing The Durrells soundtrack.


The Beagle is moving from today!


In order to keep providing the Beagle each month I'm moving much of its content over to Substack and posting more regularly rather than one monthly bumper issue. I'll be keeping this site for my photography and will continue to post and share here so you can still enjoy big beautiful images but the other content will lessen. Please do hop on over and join the growing community.


* It's really important that you sign up otherwise you will miss a great deal from me after today *


It's still the Beagle just a new platform


I have started a Podcast and am writing more regularly over on Substack, especially now I've stopped galavanting around English mansions with overseas visitors. I'll tell you more about that later. Over on Substack I'm called Chapel Studio. My art is an extension of my devotional life and so the name pairs those two loves.

I'll still be sharing all the usual goodies you'd find in the monthly Beagle only now broken up into bite size pieces. All Beagle content on Subsatck will remain free to you. In addition I have the midcoast and will use this outlet to host talks, devotional studies, book clubs and interviews. These will predominantly be for paid members. Would you consider becoming a paid member of the tribe? Together, your small financial support allows me to keep developing my art and writing.


You'll see below (and hear about in my podcast) where I visited the home of the poet John Keats recently. It was very common in those days for artists, musicians, academics, to receive financial support in order to free them up to devote themselves unhindered to their craft. Society benefited from their ability to live a focused life, to listen deeply, to lean into their calling. This freedom allowed them to bring forth treasures from the inner world and share it with the outer. I'd love to see a return to this philosophy and practice. Author Emma Gannon wrote a wonderful piece about her views on the subject.

 

Did you know I link every book, film, recipe etc in the Beagle? Where you see words highlighted, simply click the link.

 

Still Life

Love Unstoppable, Grace Defiant


My Easter shoot vision was popped like a balloon a couple of weeks ago. The image below was my first iteration but I had another in mind which, as you'll hear about, never materialised. Here we have Snowdrops in a clay vase, seated in a crown of thorns, with an aged fresco in the background, Christ resurrected.

It is beautiful but the green leaves are a little distracting for my liking. Some of the snowdrops had begun to wilt and I really wanted the flowers to be in full vigour. That said, my concept is that of the defiance of spring against the death of winter. Metaphorically, I wanted this piece to reflect the unstoppable work of Salvation, hence the flowers sprouting out from the crown of thorns.


A new method I’m enjoying exploring is adding additional layers to the backdrop. Seen here is an oil painting - The Resurrection of Christ by Jacopo Tintoretto (c.1518-1594). I positioned the painting with the image of Christ ascending rising from the top of new growth.

Here is the full painting:—

It’s been tricky to find a full analysis breakdown of this painting, I’d love to hear if you know more about it.


I love to hear from you so please do chime in!


I had a new idea for this Beagle though, an adaptation on this already brewing in my mind, but only got so far as cutting the cherry blossoms. As soon as I got home and started to arrange it all my eyes were attacked! I usually get very mild hay fever the past few years but this was some other beast. I thought at first I’d gotten something in my eyes, I couldn’t open them properly for half an hour and sat with streaming eyes on the sofa, applying compresses. My right eye burst a blood vessel and began to swell. So, a doctor visit and optician trip later I was on drops and tablets for some crazy reaction. It's only just gone the past day or so. That put an end to this dream. Oh well, next year maybe.

 

Prayer & Art


Type the word 'Prayer' into Amazon's search bar and 100,00+ titles will be offered for our consumption. We seem to have a bottomless supply of advice on prayer. What I observe though in others and have experienced myself is a lack of confidence in 'hearing from God' shall we say. That daily awareness of distance between our living reality and what I might describe as an inner closeness of the Spirit. Instead we have what Thoreau terms a quiet desperation. I think there are contributing factors to this lack of confidence, sadly chief among them other Christians and voices within the church. We have made prayer and communion with God so very hard, the pathway cluttered and littered with many and varied opinions and formulas. The fact that 100k+ books exist in an attempt to answer our questions surely shows us the ongoing desire to walk closely with God. This gives me hope.


The ESV says we'll have confidence at his coming. Confidence then comes from confidence now and we can have such faith because the very same Spirit has been given to us and lives inside of us. Another obstacle to feeling this sense of his closeness is life itself. We're busy, too busy, burdened and distracted, entertained and operating in the shallows.

Artist

I came across Jill Steenhuis in my search for inspirational Lent art last year. I adore her Van Gogh impressionist style. Jill is so free with her movement and use of colour, the light radiates. Maybe one to add to the wish list for a piece some day.


Jill says of her creative process,

"In my silence I can hear. In my blindness I can see. In my spirit I can touch and taste the mystery. It is not what I expect. For if it was, it would be calculated; it would be safe; it would not be created because it would not be unknown. It would not be my “blue peninsula,” as Emily Dickinson calls it. The true mystery reveals itself as I work, as I let go. It is a gift. There, the blank canvas exists. It exists to make one taste the eternal."

I hope you can read more about this exceptional lady on her page and enjoy her art as seen through her vision. You can also follow Jill on IG where she has a lot more of her art as well as videos.


Stillness and listening.


Every year I re-read Gifts From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In her profound little book, Anne touches on the feminist movement. She observes that we didn’t necessarily know what to do with the freedom we were given. In our newfound liberations, rather than finding ways to feed our soul we added a host of activities which inevitably ended up being more of a burden.


Last year I watched a film called Don’t Look Up, a satirical commentary on global warming, politics and human nature. One of the characters comments at the end, as he sits around his family table surrounded by loved ones and friends. Looking into their faces with love as the world is about to end he says, “We really did have it all didn’t we“.


I think one of the gifts of being a homemaker is the ability to be still. We get to draw into ourselves, to be in deep relationship with our children, husband, God. With our independence and liberation have we lost some of the space which facilitates a more contemplative rhythm to our days?


Now, as I return more to work, I can look back fondly and appreciate the gift of being home-based. Not that there weren’t days I wasn‘t climbing the walls or wanting to run off somewhere, anywhere else! But I can see what a time of precious growth it was for me, a rich season of being able to be present. That is not in any way meant to take away from the privileges and the rights that we now have as women in, I would call myself a feminist. But I think with added responsibilities we need to fight for space which invites us into rest. I often pop into my local church during the week. Although it is on a busy little intersection it’s ancient stone walls seem to buffer those who step inside and shroud them in peace. Once upon a time the hour we spent at church each Sunday was often the only refuge we had for quiet contemplation. But even Church has changed. What was once a respite from the grind has itself become a place of busyness, programs, and much activity. As someone who was in church leadership for 23 years I can say hand on heart, Sunday was the busiest day of my week and more often than not, the most stressful.


So as women should we not be asking ourselves how do we regain stillness how do we retrain ourselves in contemplation and provide opportunity for us to gather ourselves to ourselves, and be sustained through a renewing practice? I'd like to become a living respite to those I meet with in their day. Only a person with a peaceful innerscape can offer rest to those on the outer.

 

Listening to


Many of you will not know I am a singer / songwriter. It's been on my heart in recent months to rekindle this part of myself and share my music with you. I can't believe this is my Zoe, then 8 years old, modelling for my cover in Melbourne.


Coming April 9th - Invasion Theory.


I'll be promoting a track this weekend called His Will, perfect for Easter. This song is so special to me, it’s been a comfort in times of doubt and darkness as I came out of a cult.


I'm gifting you a preview of the track today.



I originally recorded this album in 2006 and released it 2008 between moving countries. It hasn’t been available for a while but I’m rereleasing it as the songs are both beautiful and powerful. I’m really proud of this work.


Produced by the extremely multi-talented Joth Hunt 🎸 and featuring the coolest drummer in the world Mike Webber 🥁 You can listen to Invasion Theory wherever music is streamed from April 9th.


Other music

What a beautiful discovery this month of an artist named Laura Christie Wall. I've been immersed in her gentle piano each morning during my reading time and it also makes for a relaxed working soundtrack. Her albums If I Stay and In This Moment are on repeat. I particularly love this gentle piece by Laura, It's Alright.


Half Alive, Conditions of a Punk. Having been thwarted in two previous attempts to see these guys live I finally got to experience them Match 19th. My daughter and I queued for a ridiculous amount of hours (did my back in, not doing that again!) but it was so worth it. Not only did we get to meet the band as they arrived for sound check but we were close to the front for the show. Yes my back killed for the last two weeks but we made a forever memory. I think Josh (lead singer/writer) is a modern day Psalmist. Just take a listen to Creature and read the lyrics. As a parent I'm deeply grateful for artists like this reaching our young people.

 

For fun

 

Chapel Studio Podcast & Virtual Tour


I had a wonderful time with my dear friend Jennie through the end of March. You can hear all about it on the podcast and attached below, a visual walk through.



The Household Cavalry


Waddesdon Manor


Old Amersham - St.Mary's Church, Hughenden Manor


John Keat's home, Kenwood House



Windsor Castle & Windsor


Farewell friend

 

March Writings

These were originally posted on my Substack or Social Media.


MARRIAGE - March 15th When Waiting Seems Like Losing The Humbling Process of Marriage Counselling

What makes the dessert beautiful”, said the little Prince, “is somewhere it hides a well.” The Little Prince



Faith Forward Actions

Therapy is a faith forward action even though it feels like death

 

Watching


Season 3 of The Chosen. Use the Angel app, it's free.

They also have a brilliant documentary interviewing a group of Gen Zs after a blind screening of the first series. So insightful.


[Occasionally my recommendations may not be for everyone. My choice of films, books etc are based on my particular tastes and tolerances. Just a note for my G-rated friends]

 

Recipe


I make these every Easter now, they are sublime!


These are so so good. They do take a little more faff and prep but the results are well worth the effort. Eat them hot and fresh. Do you have a favourite easter treat?

 

Poetry


The Avowal

Denise Levertov


As swimmers dare

to lie face to the sky

and water bears them,

as hawks rest upon air

and air sustains them,

so would I learn to attain

freefall, and float

into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,

knowing no effort earns

that all-surrounding grace.

 

Reading


Hurrahm hurrah, hurrah! I have fiiiiiiiinally finished A Gentleman In Moscow! It took me a while as it doesn't follow the usual formula, it's very character based and slow burn to what turned out to be, a rapid and thrilling climax. I loved it!


The Last Flower Paintings of Manet. This is harder to find but not impossible. I managed to find a copy through Thrift Books in the States and my friend brought it over for me, it was only a few dollars. This is going to be inspirational in my work. You could also cut the plates from the book if you don't cringe at that thought, and frame them.

The Enchanted April. This is another annual re-read. 'Wisteria & Sunshine', friendships born, marriages restored, San Salvatore in the Italian sun is a soul-filling soil where hearts flourish. The film also is a delightful watch. it differs slightly from the book but in some ways adds some lovely touches. You be the judge.

"Sometimes a change of scenery can change everything"
"It's this place, it's a tub of love"
 

Final farewell


Please be sure to go sign up on Substack, it's free as mentioned and all my Beagle content will now be on there plus much more! I am now off to pot some plants on, celebrate the release of the Beagle with a coffee and walk the dog. I am so looking forward to seeing my little seed babies flourish into beautiful blooms for my work this year. They're coming along nicely and now the frosts are hopefully, mostly over, I'm hopeful we will suffer less fatalities 😬


Take care dear friends, do drop me a line.


Jacqui X



















Comments


Single Post: Blog_Single_Post_Widget
bottom of page