Happy Midsummer to you all!
The longest day always inspires the rarely-seen extrovert in me to jump out and showcase herself, and what better way to do so than to announce two pieces of my artwork were accepted for the 2024 Earth Pathways Diary.
I get it. Today is the longest day, slap bang in the middle of the year, and I’m writing about 2024. But hear me out. Today, this diary officially goes on sale.
The Earth Pathways Co-operative is a not-for-profit organisation committed to positive environmental change and creating a better world for the future. It is committed to providing a thriving network and support for writers and artists expressing their love for the land and inspiring a more caring and environmentally aware future for all.
I have been buying and using these diaries since 2012. They are filled with inspirational works of visual art and written words celebrating our natural world.
My two pieces chosen for the diary are:
Mulfra Quoit is a Neolithic dolmen in West Cornwall. The near square capstone (3.2m x 3m) has slipped, and people over millennia have robbed stones comprising this tomb. With Chûn Quoit, one of the best-preserved dolmen in the area, close by, Mulfra Quoit looks in a sorrier state than its near-pristine neighbour. However, both locations have their energies we can tap into if we allow ourselves to soak them in.
I painted this way back in 2012, inspired after a trip there at stupid o’clock in the morning with my partner, hoping for some great night photography shots with Mulfra Quoit in the foreground and the Milky Way in the night sky. We didn’t get the photographs we hoped for. But it prompted me to dig out my paints and create this alternative nighttime interpretation with the full moon rising.
I am drawn to these ancient places where our ancestors dwelt, leaving only traces of their passage in stone and soil. Everything else has long decomposed. As archaeological techniques improve, we can gain a better scientific understanding of the past. But I like to tap into the human experience. Our brains and bodies have changed little in the vast generations between those who built Mulfra Quoit and us. We experienced the same physical sensations that prompt the same emotions. Mulfra Quoit is a tomb, likely for someone of great importance. Did our ancestors share an outpouring of grief and a desire to pay respects, as many did for the late Queen Elizabeth II? Equally, were many indifferent to it all, or were secretly glad to see the back of them and welcome in their replacement? Did people still come to the tomb in the following years? How much time passed until its occupant became forgotten?
Perhaps it’s why I find these places intriguing. We are only transient. Despite our species increasing naivety that we are not a part of it, nature will reclaim us. One day our name and achievements will be forgotten, save for worked stone and scarred soil. But I can still connect with these unnamed ancestors because I know what it is like to live. I can appreciate the workmanship I see in a flint scraper I found while gardening. The late-Roman oil lamp I own once gave light to its original owner, and we all know the comfort of a flame to banish away the dark.
Fan Y Big
My love of the outdoors takes me to loftier heights than those found on Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor in neighbouring Devon. Wales is a favourite holiday destination. My Celtic cousin, since Wales and the ‘wall’ in Cornwall, stem from the Saxon word for ‘Foreigner’.
Pen Y Fan is the highest peak in Bannau Brycheiniog (having recently adopted its Welsh name rather than the English Brecon Beacons) and is a popular tourist route. I don’t like crowds. After mooching online and reading through walking books in our self-catering cottage, we found a walk to Fan Y Big incorporating stunning views, waterfalls, and some historical interests.
Unfortunately, we had clouds. The sort which hides the summits. This proved a silver lining because we had unknowingly chosen the steepest route and would have probably been daunted if we knew what we were climbing (luckily, we had Wine Gums).
Sensibly, we decided not to lug the DSLRs with us and opted for camera phones to take the odd photos. As the day progressed and we climbed higher, the low cloud would momentarily break, creating these hazy sunbursts over the landscape. It was like a torch being switched on. The dull greens would turn vibrant, and the yellowing grass shone so from a distance it appeared to be a carpet of gorse flowers. Bannau Brycheiniog often looks bleak but always majestic. I enjoy being out in the changeable weather. Sure, I enjoy going out on a cloudless day with good visibility. But given the added element of the weather, I can watch the landscape change with it. My Dad has a background in mountaineering, and he passed on the passion. Now I climb hills and mountains to discover my own eyries and immerse myself in nature. I can’t help but wonder about deep time and how these places were formed. Standing on the peak, I gain that sense of achievement and loftiness of feeling like I’m on top of the world. But it is equally humbling when the vista spills below me and into the far distance. When the weather sets in, my point of view shrinks, and I must rely on the map and compass.
I painted this hoping to evoke the feelings and memories I have of that walk and the awe that continually strikes me whenever I immerse myself in nature.
If there is anything I can recommend to you on this midsummer’s day, it is to go outside and enjoy nature.
Interested in discovering more about the artists and writers who have contributed? Check out the Earth Pathways Showcase website.
Interested in buying a diary? Head over to their shop.