I'd like to introduce you to another area of my blog that fully explores my fascination in history, countryside and mediaeval graffiti!
As a freelance artist, I've always had a very intense work schedule even before the pandemic but since our first lockdown back in March of this year, my work schedule has gone bonkers and I feel very much shackled to my computer so it's a breath of fresh air to deliberately take Sundays off just to get out into the countryside to walk in the fields and woodlands and to explore local old churches.
Aside from taking Sunday off, I work 6 days a week and have been struggling to find a balance between working on my meetup group, teaching private lessons online, working on maintaining my creative practices (which I don't do enough), spending time with my boyfriend, and finding quiet reflective moments to myself which I really need in order to feel like I'm staying sane in this crazy year!
I'm very much an introvert and putting on my extrovert facade to teach or run events or just spend time with my boyfriend seems to drain me even though I do love doing all those things. So when I'm able to, I enjoy having a completely silent, reflective day where I don't have to have even an inner dialogue going and can be actively experiencing the "now" and refueling and recharging. Today is my "recharging day" and the day after a Sunday outing to some beautiful churches here in Hertfordshire. I've been enjoying looking through my photos taken yesterday as I really wanted to share with you where my boyfriend, Robert and I visited yesterday as it was such an inspiring day.
I'm lucky to have a boyfriend who has a car and enjoys driving as I'd not get very far without him! Robert drove us to a village in North Hertfordshire called, Great Wymondley as we hoped to visit St Mary The Virgin church there as it is a Norman church and we hoped would have some mediaeval graffiti but on arrival, we discovered it was closed for renovations. In the church entryway there was lots of pots of jam as the church are raising funds to restore their tower so I selected a pot of golden plum jam and paid £3. Felt like this was a great bonus even if the church was shut!
The closed door to the church boasted two stone heads at the top of each pillar (I've just included one here). There was a leaflet nearby that stated that the door dated to 1120.
We also read that there was earthworks of a motte-and-bailey castle nearby so of course had to explore. It was just beyond the churchyard and was just a series of lumps and bumps around some low growing trees. Apparently a little further away, there's also the remains of a Roman villa but we didn't explore that far - maybe next time. I do want to return when the church opens again and hope their restoration project doesn't obliterate any mediaeval graffiti in there. The architecture of the building is quite beautiful and unlike any churches I've seen thus far. The tower reminds me so much of the castles and churches where I grew up in Wales which is rather satisfying.
The weather was rather bad and there were lots of very flooded areas so the walk we'd wanted to do wasn't easy so instead we drove to St. Ippolyts to see the Norman church there and hope that it was open for us to look for graffiti.
The church was open and impressive on the outside as it stood on a very large hill overlooking a deep valley and nearby there were some interesting looking half timbered buildings. In the entryway we were greeted not by jam, but instead two large marrows! The door was open and very modern which didn't bode well......great that it was open, but modern features usually means whitewashed walls and hidden graffiti. Inside I found lots of stone heads that I found fascinating but very little graffiti. So after a brief walk to see if we could find any other old houses, we got back in the car and drove to St George's Church in Anstey which was very impressive and open!
The entrance was weather beaten and completely overloaded with graffiti! I learned that stones from a nearby castle were used to construct the church so the graffiti had been written by occupants of the castle which is fascinating! There was so much to see that it's difficult to find one picture that would satisfy - there was also a huge geriatric spider which nearly gave me a heart attack as I was leaning quite close to a wall when I noticed it!
For me, I find it really interesting trying to read all the words and decipher the drawings and try to imagine who made the marks, what was happening in their life at the time and in the world. Doing this helps me digest what is going on in my life and in the world around me and somehow it gives me a feeling of calm because all the things that I think are very stressful now are just a drop in the universe compared to all those lives who came before me and left a fragment of their lives for me to read on those walls! It's simply incredible!
On the left is a stylised figure and on the right is a horses head among other scratchings.
The figure was in the window sill and the horse on a pillar.
But there's so much more than these!
So for me this is how I draw inspiration as connecting in this way with individuals from history gives me such a feeling of connection that I feel like the marks I make on paper in the form of my drawings do mean something in this world even with this pandemic and the crazy political situation. Somehow, when all the dust settles, I feel like I'll be better for surviving it and will have the memories of my adventures embedded into the lines I make in my own imagery that will give that foundation I need to continue.
So this style of blog post will sometimes be written by Robert of the Cultureseekers as his passion for history and countryside adventures is just as strong as my own though I think he is a bit more focused on facts and details rather than my philosophical take!