Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Little Galleon of Green Lions

A little galleon glided by
Gilded in Milky Way
Set sail with wanderlust
Green lions and moondust
The wild, rare sea caressed him;
(the king of the swans' dark throne)
and the galleon turned to a little golden bone...
filled inside with moondust
and a thousand comet stones.
Meanwhile, the green lions wove their crowns
of milk teeth and phoenix down.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Firebird

The Firebird from Russian folklore
I drew this sketch of a Firebird laddy last year, inspired by the beguiling drawings of Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin. The Firebird is a magical bird with iridescent feathers, who can be glimpsed in Slavic folklore pinching apples from the King's garden. At the Diaghilev exhibition at the V&A Museum, where I dream drifted in December, there was a whole room dedicated to a ballet of the Firebird. A ceiling high painted backdrop of Aladdin~esque buildings and a video roll of photographs... swirling fabric feathers and multicoloured wings... it was magical. I sailed home with a treasure, a compilation of Russian faerytales illustrated by Bilibin, the original cover of which was nestled behind glass in the exhibition, and a black pencil tipped with a glittering green jewel... I think a twinkle from the Firebird's feather.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Mr Faun ii

Mr Faun ii
Mr Faun is beckoning us into an emerald forest...

Emerald green spellbinds me, wonderdust woodlands and whirring meadows, painting the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz and building an emerald forest in a shoebox many moons ago. The shoebox has shimmering green cellophane in square windows, so the little kingdom glistens green for whoever peeps inside.

Medieval literature is woven with dazzling emerald dust... from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight:

"His clothes were all kindled with a clear light like emeralds: 
His belt buckles sparkled, and bright stones were set
in rich rows arranged up and down
himself and his saddle. Worked in the silk
were too many trifles to tell the half of:
embroidered birds, butterflies, and other things
in a gaudy glory of green and inlaid gold."

to The Prioress' Tale, one of The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer:

"This gem of chastity, this emerald..."

... and emerald green can be spied far away from our glittering green forests here...

In alchemy, the Greene Lyon, or Green Lion, was the characterisation of the process of mixing nitric acid with hydrochloric acid, which creates aquae regia (royal water), a liquid with a green tinge.

"Here is the Universal Dissolvent, the Green Lion or Mercury of the Wise, without which nothing can be achieved..." (from Michael Maier's 1618 book, Antalanta fugiens)

The solution can dissolve all metals including gold (the mineral of the sun), thus, depictions of the green lion gobbling up the sun can be found in alchemical literature. The Green Lion was also used to describe photosynthesis by naturalist alchemists, the raw green energy of nature, eloquently expressed as "the green fuse which drives the flower" by Dylan Thomas.

The Green Man, the spirit and essence of nature... I think I would love to paint him.

Inspiration ~ glistening emerald meadow next to The Hundred Acre Wood in Sussex 
Maybe he sings about the leaves he is woven from...

A leaf from my sketchbook ~ magical tree names