This castle made of clay was one I made for my sister in the 1990’s. It still sits in her garden by the front door and she seems to get pleasure from seeing it. As I passed by it’s fanciful turrets and imagined fairy doorways on a recent trip at Christmas, I was reminded that there was a time in my life when I still believed in fairies. And there might be again even if the name changes.
After 25 years of making production pottery with some art exhibitions of large vessels, it is time for a change. I wanted to go to the edge with an upcoming art exhibition at Edge Gallery opening this friday night and ask some questions about clay, art, music, friendship and the spiritual realms. So I have made 12 fairy castles. I made them all in two four hour periods – a season of delightful creativity in which my soul began to re-awaken, stretch and wonder again in new freedoms.
The Irish Celtic Christian tradition, as informed by John O’Donohue who with Pema Chodron and John Philip Newell form the team of theologian-writer-counsellors in my life, has reminded me that fairies have long held a place in Celtic tradition, as have angels. This season between winter and spring allows us to ask questions about existences.
O’Donohue says, “There is always a winter time when old dies away… Unless you allow yourself to work on that threshold, you remain a guest outside your own life.”
Fairy garden castles are an interesting meeting place between enclosed prisons like castle turrets or fortified walls and the mischievous playfulness of the fairy world which can as easily go dark as light.
“The world of Celtic spirituality is a world of springtime and fresh beginnings, relieving one from prisons of your own perceptions.” O’Donohue points out, “A Celtic gift is the knowledge of fairies as presences. Fairies were said to live in the air. Many tunes were said to be from the fairy kingdom…The world of fairies had a sense of playfulness to it.”
John also speaks of how your guardian angel is the spirit of renewal and transfiguration that always walks at your side. “Your angelic presence can convert a dead world into a new world of potential and mystery and promise. Just ask them to help you…The power of prayer can lift these weights so heart can breathe again and become fully alive. You were born for eternal life and you should risk enjoying it.”
So I set about researching castles from around the world and had fun imagining fairies in my garden. What emerged are the castles at Edge Gallery this month.
What shore do you stand on? There is so much out there in the invisible world! There are so many things we do not know and our tawdry attempts to posture with knowledge about mystery is deadening to our souls.
Into what castle turrets of loneliness and isolation have you locked yourself? The funny thing is that if we unlock the doors, the very castle turrets into which we have been locked as small prisons can just as quickly be a place, having slipped out onto the balcony through the open door, from which we can stand on the vistas of new possibilities- views which glide over our surroundings and perspectives which show us the way to the next village where a new pub with new beer and new songs and new people await ready to pat a seat by a roaring fire and invite you into community – into being together – into songs and laughter.
I love art for the way it can unfurl imagination, inspire playfulness and encourage boundary pushing. I love its revolutionary spirit and the way it makes old, wizened, cranky people angry. And I love the way it opens the eyes of the young and the souls of the tired so that continuity replaces repetition in our lives.