Back to the Glen

It has been some time and I’m edging my way back to the Glen rebuilding lost connections, connections that appear fragile on the surface but I find are still running deep.

We have had some heavy rain and wild weather, the canopy of the Glen is opening up I spend some time with a hawthorn in the under story,

listening in to the Alder Pool and

observing the self-organisied constellation of berry and nut in the water combed twigs of the tideline

aglimmering
voices of the Alder
self organised constellations

Gleann a’ Phúca

2022 has been a year of further explorations in the Glen, coming out of my daily walking practice, logging and observations I invited other artists to join in with proposals for the park … thanks Mark Heffernann for this lovely documentation of the Gleann a’ Phúca exhibition of proposals for the Glen and thanks to to the artists who made them… we will see if we can make this happen

The artists talk about their proposals at the Exhibition Launch, City Hall Cork

After the fires in the Glen

Delicate things survive the crossing over from March to April

how delicate things survive the blaze that hops from gorse to gorse, just scorching the ground
Alder is the warrior tree its flesh turning from milk white to blood red when cut. Fearn (Alder) rules the fourth moon of the Celtic Calendar and is the 3rd letter of the Ogham, “w”
perished ball emerges intact from the charrings of the undergrowth on the unscathed pathway

…days later, 13 April in the morning sun steam rises from the charred ground

Earth Breathing
gorse arabesques scripting my breath held in the middle

Gorse making drawings, feelings of sweep sweep arabesque charcoal and ash, loose and light in the surrounds I feel my breath in the intersection where the 3 stalks rise.

la Fillette & le Quenouille (bulrush)

Annie, la Fillette y le Bulrush (after L. Bourgeois)

Bulrushes are called coigeal na mban sí as gaeilge… the spindle of the banshee … their dense heads are bursting open this spring and spinning off in all directions… down in the wind …

The Glen is full of rich pickings after the plunder of illegal March fellings and Annie cradles a Y branch

The French word for bulrush is quenouille, which also translates as distaff – the twin tool of the spindle … distaff being the term for the maternal line of the family and also the woman’s realm (of work)…

Distaff, a device used in hand spinning in which individual fibres are drawn out of a mass of prepared fibres held on a stick (the distaff), twisted together to form a continuous strand, and wound on a second stick (the spindle).

Nettles

On the June bank holiday, after a couple of days in delirium I was admitted to the Mercy hospital with cellulitis from nettle stings and pond water, my lower leg was twice it’s normal girth, I could barely see my toes. Working with nettle fibres was a way of getting the connection back after this hiatus.

Nettles and Time

I have begun again with the task of extracting the fibres from the nettle.

Rumplestiltskin comes to mind…(whispers) …say my name…

First one softens the stalk, pounding gently with stone or other blunt object

Then one splits open the stalk

The nettle yields and separates into a few long strands, often four sections

Pull a strand away

Next one extracts the pith, the woody hull from inside, nettle-flesh, spongiform

You bend back the bark and crack the pith then you can remove it in inch long segments, the pithy bits, discarded in the making of cordage

Then you have long strips of green bark, the bark is fibrous but tough, harsh to the touch

On the inside of the bark are the fine nettle fibres, they are white or palest of green

Best to dry the fibres now to allow for shrinkage, a couple of hours will do

Then soak, for a while, short or long, if longer than a day change water every once in a while (we are not making soup)

I am not sure what comes out in the water – it is strong stuff, and ….

I find, venomous,

like a bee sting or that of an ant.

The formic acid in nettles becomes an ally in textiles, neutralising pH, and being both antibacterial and preserving, so best not to over-soak

Soaking swells up the inner fibres, it renders them easier to see, and easier to pull away from the bark, still, it’s a long process

I am outdoors in the late summer sun and so I lay the fibres out on the bare skin of my thigh, they stick to the skin, nettle juice holding them in place in the breeze till they dry and want to fly away

A rhythm builds this way.

Some fibres still have bark attached, the good ones are fine as grandmother’s hair

I twist the fibres

I twist them again

This Stops Time

The rate of production is too slow to be significant on any grand scale

Making strands

Making twine

twist and twist again

I will not be adding much to the things of the world in this way

Time expands internally, takes on another dimension

Stills the world outside

I am in touch

The ancestors are around

How else would the girl in the story have conjured the name of that taskmaster goblin

(whispers) say my name again…..

from my blog Narratives with Nature on Glen2Creek

Nettles and time Wednesday 25.08.2021