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Acoma Parrot dish

Acoma Parrot dish

This is a little dish I bought in Gallup on our trip to the American South West last summer. It set me off in a journey of discovery of Native American, and specifically, Pueblo pottery, from the area we had visited (sped by, actually, on Route 66). I found a great book called Talking with the Clay, by Stephen Trimble, who like me had been grabbed by this pottery after his first acquisition of a Pueblo pot. There is a picture on the flyleaf of the book of him cradling his pot:

stephen-trimble-with-acoma-potand before I ever saw that picture, I cradled my pot too:

acoma-parrot-dish-for-wp

This is work that is clearly to be handled, probably for ceremonial reasons – Stephen seems about to tip something out, and I seem to be offering something. The tactile quality is partly down to the fact that these pots were burnished, not glazed, so have a soft and sensual accessibility. So I set about making some, using my sketches and photos from the trip. Mine are not painted, like many of the pueblo pots, but incised (I’m an etcher, after all, and anyway I no longer have the extreme steadiness of hand required for painting these).

nm-monument-valley

Monument in the Valley

Here I had a go at the ‘corrugation’ technique used in my Parrot pot.

Thunderbird Mesa in the light of the Full Moon

Thunderbird Mesa in the light of the Full Moon

Seen as I emerged from our Hogan in Monument Valley for a pee. So glad I did! The huge cliff opposite us was bathed in moonlight and quite surreal. Unforgettable.

nm-snakeweed

Snakeweed

Snakeweed in Monument Valley. The desert floor was covered in this plant with its soft yet persistent yellow and glaucous green leaves (not here: the brown is the shadow from the fierce morning sun).

A Turkey Buzzard inspects us to

A Turkey Buzzard inspects us

At the house in Aztec we had a huge 2 storey high verandah roof, and each morning, after warming their feathers on a rock down the valley, a group of turkey buzzards flew up to say hello. This one nearly came under the roof, and this drawing was based on a still from a movie I grabbed on my phone. How else could I record this beautiful creature? Too quick for the hand/eye/brain!

Aztec Cliff in Moonshine

Aztec Cliff in Moonshine

Another night of moonshine. (And getting up in the night – I recommend it!) The night before the full moon, and I was looking out for the white foxes that come out at night here, and can sometimes be seen running along the arroyo (dry river bank, the white strip in the middle). Well camouflaged by the white rock in the moonlight, I think.

So there are my pots. Nowhere near the extreme skill and beauty of the Pueblo pots, but I’ve so enjoyed making them. There are more on the way. I’ll post.

Grand Canyon

Etching

850 x 600 mm

It was only just over 4 months ago that I sat on the edge of the Grand Canyon and made the sketch for this etching; more a process of attempting to make sense of what I was looking at than creating an instant artwork.

grand-canyon-drawing-for-blog

And now here is the (very much not instant!) artwork, half of which I published on Facebook a few weeks ago. Since my trip to the US, the main instigator of our road trip, my dear friend Jaki Whitren, who INSISTED I came along when I almost baled out, has died, as has her partner, or rather, soul mate, John Cartwright, another of my dearest friends.

grand-canyon-patchwork-1-for-blog

So I dedicate this etching to the memory of John and Jaki with much love. And as, since my trip to the South West, America has been plunged into crisis and I want to express my support for the struggle ahead, I also dedicate this work to my American friends and friends in America; to all the people who smoothed our way for us on the road trip, both indigenous and immigrant (that’s all the rest); and to the Parks Department people, who protect this extraordinary canyon and who were the first to stand up to tyranny. I just hope we can all follow their lead.

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