"It's far more disheartening to have to steal than it is to be stolen from."
- Boris Lermontov, The Red Shoes
Since I keep mentioning on this blog that Shaun and I had been planning/just arrived back from a big adventure overseas, and since we arrived home from said trip several months ago, I thought it was high time I elaborated on what that entailed.
Starting on the Autumn/Spring equinox, the former in the Southern hemisphere where we left off, and the latter in the Northern hemisphere where we were going, Shaun and I embarked on a journey best described by the great Julian Cope as a Gnostic Odyssey. Our main objective was to connect with our ancestral heritage by visiting various important megalithic sites, and though I couldn’t tell you exactly why, the opportunity to experience them first-hand meant more to me than words can possibly describe.
The Menec Alignments, Carnac.
As Shaun and I are both of European descent, and as we live about as far away from Europe as you can possibly get, we have felt for some time now a profound desire to visit the land that our families hail from; particularly sites that were of importance to our pre-Christian ancestors. Having only a month to do so, we planned our journey with the aid of Cope’s wonderful guidebooks to Megalithic Britain and Europe, and made sure we saw as many of these magical places as we could. We also wanted to make sure we could spend time at each site rather than drop in or drive past, so we arranged accommodation within walking distance of them where possible. Beginning our trip with a few relaxing days in Barcelona, where we saw a breathtaking Gothic Cathedral and an equally breathtaking live show by Earth, we headed over to Paris where we would be taking several trains and buses to reach our first megalithic destination: Carnac.
Carnac is a remote coastal town in Brittany with a particularly large number of well-preserved standing stones and other pre-historic sites, many over 6000 years old. It’s an extremely beautiful place and we were lucky enough to have arrived there while the weather was perfect, but tourist season hadn’t quite begun. The whole town was practically deserted and we had the megaliths to ourselves for the most part. Rather than being overly commercialised, the sites in Carnac were mostly just part of the landscape, with some discreet ropes and fences in place for protection. Nothing can describe the feeling of seeing them for the first time, as we rushed from our hotel to beat the sunset on the day we arrived, but Shaun attempted to on his blog and said it better than I ever could. His photos are also better than mine, naturally.
We spent the better part of a week in Carnac, and since there is nothing except the stones there and little in the way of public transport, the majority of that time was spent walking the length of the alignments, which extend for about 3.5 kilometers from the Menec stones through the Kermario stones and Lann Mane Dolmen, to the Kerlescan stones and Dolmen De Kerlescan. We experienced the stones in cold misty mornings, clear spring days and beautiful sunsets, each of which lent them a different atmosphere. Other sites we managed to see along the way were the magnificent Kercado Tumulus, Le Geant Du Manio, the Manio Quadrilateral and the Christianised Tumulus Saint Michel. (For the uninitiated, a dolmen or tumulus is a prehistoric burial mound with an internal structure of heavy stones, and many have been found to contain human remains and various other artifacts).
Kercado in some ways was one of the most profound sites we saw in Carnac - not as visually spectacular as the towering rows of giant stones at Kermario or Menec, but incredibly old and well preserved, with its original cairn still intact . We were also able to walk inside the eerie stone chamber, which had been fitted with a small light; arrowheads, pottery and axes were among the artifacts discovered in there and some primitive carvings remained on the walls.The setting was quite remote and beautiful, and we didn’t see a single other person during our two visits.
At the end of our long days of hiking we collapsed into chairs at local Creperies, which had cool names like the Magic Potion, and enjoyed some of the best food we ate in all of Europe, as well as the best hospitality. After an overwhelming first week that we’d hoped would never end, we bid Carnac farewell and headed to London for the next leg of our trip. After a few days enjoying the comforts of a big city, delicious warm beer in pubs without TVs or pokies, the company of some dear old friends and the delights of the British Museum, we jumped on a train once more and headed towards Wiltshire where Stonehenge, Avebury and other wonders awaited us…but they’ll have to wait for another post. In the meantime, here are some more photos from our trip to Carnac:
And if you’re not bored out of your brain already, you can see more of these on my Flickr page.
Once again I have neglected my blog, and as with my last post I have dusted off my keyboard to tell you about a group art show I have a piece in. This time it’s a Melbourne based show conceived by lovely local artist Simple Sime, involving 50 artists from 15 different tattoo studios around Australia and New Zealand. All artists were instructed to create a piece of art in plain black ink on white, which would then be screen-printed by Dangerfork for the exhibition. A limited edition of 20 signed and numbered prints per piece will be for sale, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Cancer Council of Victoria. An impressive list of the artists involved and other relevant details can be found on the website here.
I really enjoyed the challenge of creating a piece without the smooth gradients I usually employ to give depth and tone. I’ve always wanted to try plain ink work for the purpose of screen-printing, but have shied away from it for that very reason – I still think I’m better at drawing and painting in my usual style, but I think having tried this method I’ll experiment with it some more. I will happily admit to being strongly influenced by gorgeous poster artist David D’Andrea with this piece, one of my favourite illustrators whose prints I have hanging both at home and above my bench at the tattoo studio. As he works almost exclusively with black ink I thought of his posters often for much needed guidance.
(click to enlarge)
The concept was something I’d been planning for a while, and that I felt could be re-imagined fairly well for a detailed, line-heavy drawing. Passionflowers are by far my favourite flower and a treasured herb in my personal pharmacopeia. I fell in love with them after their gentle sedative effects saved me from crippling anxiety as a teenager, and have used them ever since (though these days it’s mostly for insomnia). They are truly beautiful and amazing flowers, rather like strange organic space ships…and as if that weren’t enough, they also give us sweet, delicious passionfruit! For some reason I can’t discern, I’m infatuated with portraying fruits that have been torn open by birds, exposing their flesh and seeds. So…without wanting to delve too deep into what that’s all about, that’s how my disorganised ideas about those things managed to become a halfway organised drawing.
Some close-ups of the detail in the flowers and nest:
Hopefully some of you will like the print (or someone else’s) enough to buy one and help out a worthy cause. The exhibition opens on Thursday August 16th at The Vic Bar in Abbotsford, and all prints are reasonably priced at $60. Would be great to see some of you there.