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The Art of Storytelling

I've been taking part in the Instagram challenge #SeptTextileLove with Seam Collective and yesterday's prompt was 'Stories', and it got me thinking. Adding layers of story to my work, both real and imagined, historiacal fact and folklore-based, is an important part of my textile practice.

This is becoming more and more important as I work on my #GarlickLane body of work. Not only are the colours and sights of today important, for me learning and imagining the history, going back to pre-Roman times, is part of my process.

The lane runs along a hidden valley, through woodland, down a holloway and out into open farmland, bounded by deep hedges. The stories it holds - I get goose bumps just thinking about it!

One of my favourite writers is Sharon Blackie who tells (and I am paraphrasing here) of how humans have always been storytellers and mythmakers, so that skill is still within us. She encourages us to go out into nature, notice that landscape and the flora and fauna within it, and use our own imagination to 'retell' these stories.

For me, the story of Garlick Lane, is one I am still learning. I know the facts (part of the course of a Roman road, local hurdle makers up until recent history, farmland, vineyard), but onto these, I am layering my own imagined stories. I have layered tales of Hare and Owl, Oak and Yew. I am listening for forgotton footsteps of Neolithic peoples, hunting, foraging (the lane is half a mile from a known settlement, but as there is no water source in the valley, I don't believe it was ever settled - it is a wild place), the Romans who marched from their camp towards Salisbury, and the rural folk who told stories themselves of this place.

In addition to my own imaginings, I am drawn to stories of nature and folklore, which I immerse myself in regularly. These stories of place and time, echo through to my own interpretations, adding another layer to each of my stitched works. Although I am not a novelist or poet, I am a storyteller, and these tales of magic, history and nature are woven through all that I do.

Reading List:

The Ladies of Grace Adieu, Susanna Clarke

Hag, Forgotton Folktales Retold, Various Authors

Holloway, Robert MacFarlane, Stanley Donwood and Dan Richards

Storyland, Amy Jeffs (I particularly love that these are origin stories from the British Isles)

Botanical Folk Tales, Lisa Schneidau

The Daylight Gate, Jeanette Winterson

The Enchanted Life, Sharon Blackie

Wintering, Katherine May

The Lost Spells, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

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Debra Kay
Debra Kay
Sep 23, 2022

Garlick Lane provide a sense of place that grounds you, not only in terms of your work, but also your place in the world. Great work Sam.

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Thank you so much Debra

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