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Having just made the previous post, I’m now getting into my stride. What better thing to do on a dreary wet Sunday than blogging! I said in the last post that I might return to the subject of Glastonbury’s Holy Islands, and so I have. Here, for starters, is a gallery of photos of some of them.

Having posted the photos, I realise some of them need explanation, so here goes:

‘Bride’s Mound’ is the lighter green shape between the two rows of hedge trees. This location was also known as Little Ireland, as a lot of the Irish saints fetched up here.

Godney is in the middle of the third picture, and Meare above that.

‘Marchey from Barrow’: difficult to distinguish Marchey which is a mound rather than a hill. Dead centre in this photo is the ruin on Marchey, and the mound extends to the left and right of this.

‘Drawing on Barrow Hill’ has Nyland in the top right corner. From this vantage point you can clearly see how straight the line is that joins Avalon (St John’s Tower), Godney, Barrow and Nyland. What I haven’t yet explained is that it seems that each island had a chapel and/or a hermit living on it, and all were greatly revered by the monks. Indeed, as holy islands they were exempt from tax as recorded in the Magna Carta. So my theory is that the monks kept a good eye on the islands, and  could easily identify them, in a line, from St John’s Tower. This tower is unusually high, and features prominently in the landscape, as in ‘St John’s from Marchey.’ It reminds me of a watch tower…And all four locations line up with the altar in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey. Beautiful symmetry.

Three of the islands, however, don’t line up at all. If you want to know what that is about, John Michell’s book ‘New light on the ancient mystery of Glastonbury’ might help. My suggestion is that you acquire an Ordnance Survey map and set forth with a sketchbook and wellies. It’s lovely out there.

1790b>Ex A6 Invitation.inddHere is a poster of our exhibition ‘Holyest Erth’ which opened on Friday two days ago and is on until May 12th. It is in the Glastonbury Abbey Visitor Centre, now known as the Abbey Museum, and is in a lovely light bright space that is slowly becoming a gallery for work relating in some way to the Abbey. The way this work relates to the Abbey is as follows:

In 1998 I made a series of mono screenprints and collographs of the Abbey ruins in the colours that research has shown they were painted in. How much and where is a matter of conjecture, but as an artist I took full proverbial licence, as in A Walk through the Abbey (poster image above), Red Abbey and Beyond the Yew:

Red AbbeyBeyond the YewThe work was originally shown at the Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury; there was no exhibition space at the Abbey at that time. So showing the work here now is like coming full circle.

In addition to the older work I wanted to make new work for this show as well. On the right hand side of my blog you will see a link to an Abbey blog. For all sorts of reasons I couldn’t continue with this (I might in the future). Instead I found a fascinating account of the Holy Islands of Glastonbury in John Michell’s book ‘New Light on the Ancient Mystery of Glastonbury’, published by Gothic Image Publications. When it comes to Ancient Mysteries of any kind I’m always interested, but also maintain what I like to think is a healthy scepticism. I have to admit, though, that in this case, striking out into the watery winter landscape to discover these ‘islands’ (hills in drier weather) that I was completely enchanted by them. More on this later, perhaps: for now, here are the Seven Holy Islands of Glastonbury (click on one, and the whole gallery will come up one by one on the screen).

I was asked to suggest a craft to go with my exhibition, and thought Books immediately, as the  Library of Glastonbury Abbey, seized and dispersed by Henry VIII, was what had inspired me to take up making hand made books in the first place.  I invited four book artists: Ama Bolton, Clare Diprose, Maggie Stewart and Jane Paterson to make work about the Abbey. Their books are fascinating and completely complementary to the whole exhibition: here are Jane Paterson’s three books on show, with her account of the Massacre of the Innocents top left:

Jane's booksFor Abbey opening times see the Glastonbury Abbey website. And please do note that there is a charge for admission to the Abbey and therefore to the show. I’d like it to be free admission; however, the Abbey itself is wonderful and the source of our inspiration, so you get the whole package…

 

 

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