There must be something about early spring: the smell of blossom floating in an air that still holds some chill; petals falling slowly down, miming the snow flakes that still could come. An uncertainty, a wavering, that has my stitching, or the recording of it, take so elegiac a form.
For here is another, much beloved, and long lost fellow traveller – Nomad.
I have to admit, I know nothing about horses, I never even read pony books as a child – apart from Flambards, and even then, it was probably more about the faded glamour of the big house for me, rather than the horses in the stables. But there seems to be something quite different about the relationships people have with their horses than they have with their other animals – I was going to write pets, but, even as a complete novice, it felt odd to call a horse a pet. But why? I’ll have to find someone to tell me, some day.
Oddly enough, though, a horse was one of the first things I ever drew – which will give you an entirely false mental image, until I explain that I was 17 or 18 at the time, and crouching in the Cambridge cast gallery, sketching a plaster cast of the horse’s head from the Parthenon. You see, at some point in my childhood, I had decided that I should leave “art” to my brothers, who were better at it, and concentrate on books. I had a rethink aged 17, and have been trying to catch up ever since.
Now I wonder what turned my thoughts in that direction? Ah yes, Nomad.
Nomad, and my friend’s mother – now grandmother of 6, I think – looking very young, which, along with the fading on one of the photos, should help us date the photo, except that powerful genes run in that family, and render the women almost completely ageless. When I first met my friend, crawling across the floor at a baby and toddler group (we were mothers, but that period of my life had too many floors and insufficient chairs, as I recall), my friend was a few years younger than me. I think she’s at least 15 years younger by now.
Anyhow – she commissioned me to make a portrait of her mother’s old friend, and asked if I could use a background of Ikat material, to reflect Nomad’s arab roots (in breed, at any rate).
This was exciting. Wedded as I am to all things Liberty, it takes a special fabric to lure me away, but Ikat might just be that. For one thing, however many times I try to get my head around exactly how it is made, I come away defeated, and I like that. [The pattern is dyed into the thread before it is woven into cloth, in case you wanted to know, and that sounds simple enough, if you like running before you can walk, for example.] For another thing, Ikat is beautiful, and I like that too.
And finally we get to Nomad.
There are only a couple of photos under-way, I’m not sure why, I may have been concentrating…I do love horses eyes, there’s so much soul-depth in them. Maybe that’s why their owners always wax so lyrical about them
And here’s Nomad all done:
my favourite bit: the half seen eye and eye lash