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Saturday, February 25, 2012

ART GALLERY EXHIBITS PROVOKE NOSTALGIA AND CULTURAL AWARENESS

The Vancouver Art Gallery
My friend invited me to an opening night exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  The first exhibit we visited was LIGHTS OUT! Canadian Painting from the 1960’s.  This was mainly modernist paintings reflecting the political and cultural tumult of the times. Canadian painting during the sixties ranged from colourfield works and bold optical images to haunting figurative works.  Artists like Harold Town, Michael Snow, and Michael Morris to name a few are on display. 
But what really captured my attention in that exhibit was an introduction by the curator mentioning some of the artists at the Vancouver Art School in the 1960.  Among the names was Reg Holmes, who was my art teacher back then when I was young (in my early 20’s) with a small son (Stevie) and struggling to adapt to a conventional life when I really wanted to be out in the world exploring, writing and experiencing all the exciting things that were going on.  I was still working occasionally for the Vancouver Sun and Province news libraries, at the end of the ‘50’s and in the early ‘60’s decided to pursue art as well as my writing.  Those days that I attended night classes at the Vancouver Art School were exciting and memorable.  Funny, but lately I’ve been thinking about if I should make time to pursue some painting again (I used to paint in oils and watercolours but haven’t for quite some time.) And the Reg Holme’s name popped up and I’ve been overwhelmed by nostalgic memories ever since.

(this exhibit runs to April 29, 1012)

The main exhibit was the BEAT NATION: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture.  Young aboriginal artists from across Canada have contributed to this show.  Some of it has been influenced by the hip hop culture and music which has transformed the art forms for these talented artists. The exhibit reflects the pop culture, graffiti with Haida figures, carved skateboards that look like intricate basket weaving and include the works of Sonny Assu, Jordan Bennett, Skeena Reece and Nicholas Galanin among others.
I was particularly intrigued by the film presentations that left my friend and I with a deep impression of the Aboriginal people in Canada, their rich culture and the years of struggle they have faced.  “Oh Canada, Our Home ON Native Land” was a thought we carried with us after we left the gallery.

(This exhibit runs to June 3, 2012)

Friday, February 24, 2012

HERE'S WHAT I'M WORKING ON NOW: A CELTIC TALE

Caer Gwyn

DRAGONS IN THE SKY
By
Wynn Bexton

(W. Ruth Kozak)

Was it the sound of the wind or the bird song

from the meadow that brought Olwen’s voice

to me that day, as I sat on the edge of

the earth mound at Old Sarum

on the Salisbury Plain, in England? I looked through

her eyes, and saw life as it was then.

She spoke through me, telling her story.

                                            Wynn Bexton

 PART ONE

“CHILD OF THE RAVEN”

The Druids believed that when we die

Our souls return again, in another form...



Stanza One: 

The Song Of Olwen

I am the Druid.

The Druids teach of the stars, the world

and the nature of the gods.

The Druids are the Spokesmen of the gods.

The Goddess speaks and says:

Olwen is the fairest among flowers,

daughter of the hawthorn,

Child of the Raven,

The Druid’s child.

           

            Listen to my song: I am an honoured child.

            I am Olwen, daughter of the Earth Mother,

            Child of the Raven

            My voice is the bird’s song: my music is the wind’s harp.

            I will be the pine cone

            clinging to the branch.

            The wind will not dislodge me.


            I will be the coral

            on the sea reef

            The waves will not displace me.

            I will be the stone dolman

            of the Sacred Henge.

            Neither time nor elements will disturb me.

            I will be the willow

            bending in the wind.

            I will be the wave

            uncurling on the sea.

            I will be the mountain

            My pinnacle crowned with sun.

            Steadfast I will stand.



 *    *    *


An Iron Age settlement like the one Olwen lived in 
(this is at St. Fagan's Heritage Park, Cardiff, Wales)



Stanza Two: Song for Caer Gwyn

On the southern plain of Albion, where the borders of our tribe enclose the Great Stone Circle, the hill fort of Caer Gwyn guards the passages of the Chalk Trail. In this day only a mound of earth rises out of the grassy fields like an inverted bowl, but when I was a child there were greenwoods and beech groves where I collected roots and herbs, and an oak grove where the Druids worshipped at a secret shrine. The Druids are the Oak Seers and they know all the Mysteries.

            Our village was enclosed within a circular palisade of staves.  It was a small village with wattled huts, like rounded straw stacks with low roof thatches.  Inside the stockade an outer circle of stables and cattle sheds ringed the craftsmen’s huts; then the houses of the freemen, and in the centre of the whorl, like the hub of a wheel, stood the timbered lodge of my grandfather, the elder priest.

            Outside the palisade, the fields were bright with wild flowers and our cattle grazed in the lush green pastures along the muddy river bank.  Our yeomen herded cattle and raised small crops of barley and wheat, protected by the warriors of the King’s Royal War Band who kept our borders safe from the raiders of rival tribes.

            Those days Caer Gwyn’s timbered Hall rang with the bard’s songs and in the hidden grove the Oak Seers prophesied Fortune, War and Death.  Now the Council Hall and the King’s lodges have decayed into earth.  The mound is bare except for small shrubs and wild grasses.  The oak grove that once held the mysteries of the gods has been burned and ploughed into the soil.

            Here, in the stillness of the summer afternoon, with the sun dappling the countryside a green-gold, and the air redolent with the scent of fallow earth and meadow grass, listen to the gods speak.

The God Speaks and says:

Who knows the secrets of the Oak grove?  The spirits of priests and kings are here.

I started this novel back in the early 80's and worked on it much of the time I was living in Greece. I set it aside later when I decided to write "Shadow of the Lion".  I was discouraged because my writing instructor told me I should write it in third person p.o.v. and it got all mixed up.  I've recently taken the old manuscript out of the box and I'm retyping it into the computer.  It definitely is a first person narrative, because the voice of Olwen came to me and I channeled her to tell her story. Some of the chapters (or 'stanzas') are told in Bardic verse instead of prose. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

SAYING FAREWELL AT THE END OF A LONG JOURNEY


It's a very odd feeling when you come to the end and ship off your novel to an editor.  Kind of like giving birth.  And now what?  I felt pretty burned out after all that work I'd done myself and knew it was time to let another pair of eyes look at it.  Of course there'll be a bit more work involved once she's done with it, but it is mostly off my hands now.  Then I must face the reality of the publishing world and hope for the best.

What will I do meantime?  I have been feeling a great need for some down time lately, between the work I did on Shadow of the Lion, and my classes which are on-going for another few weeks.  Since I send off the manuscript last week, I didn't feel much like writing.  My brain was pretty fried.
I did manage to write one travel article and have others to work on but really, I needed a rest.

While I wait to see what happens with Shadow, I will continue retyping my Celtic novel, "Dragons in the Sky".  I haven't thought of doing any editing and rewrites for it as yet.  I need to clear the decks completely and won't do that until I am in the process of marketing Shadow. 

Lately I've gone to a couple of poetry readings and have some ideas for some new poems for my "Songs for Erato" (Greek poems) collection.  But the Muse hasn't been very evident as yet so I'll give her a rest for awhile.  I need to regroup and revitalize myself.  Can hardly wait for Spring weather to get here so I can go on some nice long refreshing walks!