As pretty little Ivy passes Henry in the lane on her morning way to work each day, she never once imagines that he, the lanky farmlad, is to become her true love before the Summer is out. A nod, a half-smile of recognition in the early Spring sunshine is all that passes between them ..Henry too shy, long-limbed in faded corduroy and canvas gaiters, leaning on his shovel, shifting hurdles or driving Pearce's cows to the dairy, can barely hold her gaze a second before his eyes fall in rapt observation of his own clumsy boots, whilst Ivy, blushing and awkward, smiles at the daisies at her feet rather then upturn her pink face to his .. A rural love affair seeding , too slow and cautious, unwatered by expectation, untended, unwitting, a runt of a love in truth.
Nothing goes unobserved by the country gods though and before long, Hermes, weary of the stumbling Henry, gormless in the cowshed through lack of love, takes matters in hand. Eros is summoned and told to fix the pair.
Nights are warm this June when Eros comes a-calling. Cottages hold the heat of the day and moths and bats spiral lamplit outside the open bedroom windows of the village. Sleeping deep in down and patched linen in their separate virgin beds, our hapless subjects can never have dreamt of the wingéd lad who hovers with golden darts over their bedsteads. Pierced with new dreams of love this night, they wake at dawn and trembling shy in the knowledge of where their hearts have led them, dress themselves in quiet awe and a longing for more.
And so it is then this morning that their meeting in the lane bears a strange new thrill, their hearts wear a different colour, their eyes meet and lock and Henry, bold as never before, reaches, takes Ivy's hand in his and steals a kiss. The Wingéd Boys darts have planted deep in hungry soil and flourish and a lifetime of country loving begins.
"Ivy, ivy, I thee pluck,
In my bosom, I thee tuck,
The next young man that speaks to me,
Must surely my true lover be..."
It's Frida the Friesian's 25th anniversary this year and a coincidence she unexpectedly came back to me recently. She was painted in 2003, one of Trelawny Copplestone's ladies at Trethevy Farm where I used to go walking . In honour of her birthday, I'm going to celebrate her with a limited edition print.
There will be a run of 100 A4 prints and 25 A3 prints available shortly .Normal price for an unmounted print will be £30 for the A4, £40 for the A3 plus £5 UK post and packing .
PREORDER NOW AND ENJOY A SPECIAL PRICE OF £25 FOR AN A4 PRINT and £35 for the A3 and only £2.50 p&p for either .. A bit of Bovine summer joy for your wall all year round.
Happy Birthday Frida ❤ !!
Jo's Bro here, not her ladyship, Sorry! This is a snippet from 29 years and eleven years ago. More to follow--- of course.
Once you've accepted the premise that Herne the Hunter was Red Riding Hood's dad , events in the Forest that year, the year that Red turned 10, all start making sense.
When little Red's mother, Elvira, at the time a young woman of only 17 herself, met Herne , she knew his reputation around the woods .
She already had him down as the wild one, the Hunter, the solitary lanky figure who stalked the forest glades .. A few liasons under his oak tree convinced her he'd never put a ring on her finger, but such was his otherworldly charisma she was happy just to be polishing his antlers with the underside of her petticoat and feeling the hot snorts of his breath on her pretty village cheeks as he covered her in the grass.
Discovering herself pregnant and more still uncovering her lover's blatant indifference to her condition, Elvira gave up any hopes of Herne making a dad of himself. It was a surprise then when the recalcitrant Hunter's mother stepped in to help. Old Mother Herne was dismayed to have bred such an insensitive lout and when Elvira's time came , the old lady was there to deliver the young woman of a daughter on a bed of herbs and straw in her cottage in the woods.
Over the next 10 years it was Betsy Herne who supported Elvira, found her a little house of her own and helped her raise the girl. Red's questions about her father grew more difficult to answer as the child's knowledge of the forest grew and as she learnt of the strangeness of her parentage. Other children laughed and joked at her bastard state .. not cruel but ignorant of Red's hurt when they cavorted in front of her with Hawthorn branches held to their temples as mock antlers. It was known that Herne constantly failed to observe his visiting rights to his daughter, regularly forgot her birthday and consistently let Elvira down when Betsy had arranged for him to come and repair the roof or mend the house walls of the tumbledown cottage in which Elvira and Red lived. Thank goodness for Grandma and the increasing visits of the Forest-keeper Handsome Jack with his great chopper and broad shoulders and smile. He soon became a great consolation to Elvira on her long lonely nights in the woodland hovel whilst Red slept the innocent sleep of the country child.
Time takes its toll and as Betsy became increasingly infirm and was more often than not confined to her home, it became Red's happy duty to cross the mile of forest on her own to visit Grandma Herne with a basket of goodies and a cheery smile. The Summer was a hot one and so it was folks leant on gates and walls that year to discuss news and goings-on in the forest, so when it happened, of course, the Wolf incident , talk of Red and Grandma's narrow escape at the cottage was all about. Word soon reached the laconic Herne who surprised himself at his own reaction to the blood curdling tale, was horrified to hear of the near grim fate of his mother and daughter at the claws and teeth of old Lupus the Grey, an aging Lothario of a Wolf well known in those forest groves. Herne was even more shaken to learn that his blood kin had only been saved by the intervention of that Chopper-happy buffoon, Handsome Jack, a leather jerkin'd ninny of the first order in Herne's eyes .
There was even talk of marriage.. of Elvira's saying she'd 'given up' on Herne and that she and Red were moving into a nice chalet on the edge of the forest with Jack who'd be a 'proper dad ' to the girl.
Male pride, once pricked is a marvellous thing and Herne suffered a dark night of the soul that lasted a full week before he went home to his mother and asked for help. Betsey could barely conceal her smiles as she sat her son down with a mug of tea and a slab of Elvira's inedible fruitcake. " You must go and tell her, son ..tell her you're a changed man and that you want to win her back '' As the old woman talked , she buffed her son's thorn tangled antlers, wiped his nose on her apron , put an arthritic hand on his hairy brute shoulder and told him straight .."'its never too late for Love''
True enough, Elvira took him back , took Herne on as her man and Red was at last reunited with the Dad she'd always hoped for. Herne settled and learnt to enjoy home and hearth and even Elvira's terrible cooking, though still, twice a week, he stands up after supper , pushes back his chair and whistles up his hounds to go chase the wild things of the forest for a night.
Handsome Jack took his chopper ,went to America and changed his name to Howard Keel and became big in musicals and Elvira never mentioned his name again even when she persuaded Herne to sit through Seven Brides For Seven Brothers at the local fleapit.
As for Red , she is the happiest of girls with her big strong antlered Daddy and once a week on Sunday afternoon they walk together the mile through the Forest to Grandma's for tea and no wolf dares come near. Lucky Red, lucky Herne, happy Elvira and clever Old Grandma. Forest Love is theirs.
When walking a new path, there's always something of a surprise to find a little house at the end of a lane out there in the open countryside .. This, the isolated homestead more often these days seen from the car, in a distant green valley a mile from the road or studding the faraway hillside amongst fields and big green trees, is set dreaming in a world of its own .
Sometimes there are two houses with no other neighbours , sharing a lane , a hedge, sometimes even a gate .. The land around these old homes is settled , the copses tall, the single beech that stands near is a hundred years old at least. The lane up to it that once knew only carts and feet in two's and four's, knows the car now but still its stones and pitted surface holds the memory of boots and hooves now long silent and the working day that gave it traffic. We marvel as our car flies by, gazing at that distant oasis of calm, a heat haze over the fields, a buzzard floating above , the way to this other world not visible from the road. It is a vision of rurality set apart from the rest of the busy world ... a picture from a book we knew as children , a reminder that once people worked where they lived, walked a mile from home at dawn to labour all day and then walk home again. These homes, so often humble, even when I was a kid and travelling about with Nurse March in her intrepid Morris 1000, were the little powerhouses of rural industry when work was local, when old people lived with the young, when a visit to town was a treat and your own potatoes and onions a necessity. Strange things happened in them, secrets were kept in them, babies were born in them and old folks dwined and died in them whilst pots of tea were made downstairs and somebody ran for the nurse. Houses on footpaths and down the end of lanes, no near neighbours and lives played out, unrecorded but intense just the same. The wonder of little old houses only seen from the road .
It was Mabel's idea. Long afternoons in the great dusty rooms of Langley weighed heavy on the housemaids that August, windows painted shut, doors tight closed in respect of her Ladyship's unaccountable terror of flying things, and the endless chenille and velvet of the house, musty and sour. Polishing silver and then balanced and perspiring on Briggs, the gardener's, tottering stepladder for the annual dusting of the chandeliers whilst the footmen steadied the steps , held their legs and looked up their skirts.. well, it fatigued the young women, countrygirls at heart, and heartsick for the green shade of trees and cool grass.
Fair play to the girls then, pilfering food and the gramophone and a whistling crackling record to exercise Beryl's fascination with Tango. Imagine her delight discovering Bessie the simple Understairs Maid had a such natural talent for dance. And in their skins alone, save for stockings to stave off the nettles.. The breeze tickled their hair, touched their white limbs, played tricks with the shimmies that hung with their damp wool dresses on the tree.
Yes it was Mabel's idea. She needed answers ...Something to account for her strong feelings when put to boot cleaning on Sunday nights and it was whilst dusting earlier in the year that she'd discovered the Krafft-Ebing on the top shelf in his Lordship's library. Enthralled, and as ever licking her nose with her tongue and rubbing her weak eyes with her little red fist she'd found the references to leather, the explanations of deviance and unnatural passion that she knew so well herself. The book was easy to conceal in rugs taken from the library for beating ....ahhh beating! ... and her heart beat too, wildly, as she fled with the source of her intelligence to the little attic room she shared with Bessie and Beryl.
It was only a short step then that day to persuade the girls to spend their one afternoon off a month down in the cool of the woods , to play and dance in their skins whilst she probed further into the now well-thumbed Psychopathia Sexualis. Mabel was no fool ..Grout the butler had seen them head down through the garden to the secrecy of the glade and she knew he would follow and that having been discovered in their naked joy, they would be reported . She would own up of course. No one would suspect the other two of being the authors of such immodest pleasures and Mabel already knew his Lordship's vehement dislike of coarseness .. She could only imagine his wrath at immodesty, his white anger in the face of the indelicate female nude . She would be punished. And he would chastise her in the highly polished boots she expelled her hot breath on every Sunday night. He would chastise her for her own good.
Yes, it was Mabel's idea alright. The tango played on and the two innocents danced in the sunlit glade. The branch was rough under Mabel's plump arse, and she wriggled upon it, her fingers tightening on the stolen book and her eyes closing in anticipated pleasure as she heard Grout's heavy tread through the trees behind them ......It would be the worse for her and she really couldn't wait .
Great night at the Pentillie Castle exhibition preview last night .. Thank you everyone for coming along, to Jane Ridsdill staunch henchwoman who's been there 2 days running setting up and keeping me calm, Alan Jackson and his extraordinary canapés, Sarah and Linda Payne for your help tonight and all my beloved pals for support and kind comments this evening ...A huge treat to see you all in such a beautiful setting .
On now for the next 4 days, 10am til 5pm, the kettle will be on, the fire lit and the clarion honking of geese and lapping of the big river on its mud flats await you ... forget the paintings, its worth coming along just for the beauty of the drive down to the Bathing Hut and a good game of Count The Pheasants 😉
Lady Westcott's Ecstacy
My little exhibition at Pentillie Castle is now underway so hopefully my Bruv will have a few new images to post on the 2018 page now!
Pentillie Show 9th, 10th and 11th of March 2018Read More
March 9th, 10th and 11th sees a Jo March show at Pentillie Castle , near St Mellion, in the estate grounds in the beautiful little Bathing Hut down by the river. It's a perfect setting amongst the arcadian groves and deep wooded slopes along the banks of the Tamar. I will have both new and older paintings on show and a great selection of framed and unframed prints. It coincides with Pentillie's own open Spring open day on the Sunday and Mother's Day AND on the 10th, my birthday so hopefully much merriment will ensue ... Hope to see you there!!
BATHSHEBA GOES TO AUCTION!
Bathsheba has gone to W.H.Lane , the well known and respected art auctioneers in Penzance and will be part of their sale on Thursday 15th February. Exciting as selling at auction is not something I've explored ! She's in alongside another Jo March original 'The Halfacre' so they have each other for company ... The catalogue for the sale will be online on the WH Lane website and is also available from them via mail.Read More
Busy times so have been remiss on the blogging sorry folks! However here is a little update.
First intimations of the next small show ! 8th, 9th, 10th,11th march 2018 at the bathing hut in the grounds of beautiful Pentillie castle. If you want to see their taster the link follows: https://www.pentillie.co.uk/events-at-pentillie-castle/exhibition-of-paintings-jo-march/
What a weekend in this mad, lovely village.. Last night the Buccaneer hosted some kind of bacchanalian midwinter event ..a 60's disco run by 'the Committee', hosted by Gilly the landlady and supported by the oddest selection of party people you could wish to meet. The music was inspired, the frolics already legendary, the bottoms swinging and stinging with joy under the flashing twirling lights of the bijoux fun palace that is the backroom of the Buccaneer. Mayhem in a grey and sprawling border village in Cornwall.
Now Sunday night and the hangovers fade and we're back at the Bucc for Carols Round The Tree , full of cheap house whisky and love .. There's nowhere else I'd aspire to be at this moment . Gunnislake is awe inspiring in its unpretentious ordinariness .. and thats what makes it special and out of the ordinary .. We are such a huge cross section of people , happy souls, grumpy bastards, people with money, people with none, incomers, old families.. The festive lights are shining down on the wet streets and the woolly hatted heads of men, women and kids, laughing , shouting, glad to be here ..a little band plays and carols are sung , Father Christmas arrives and sits himself on an incongruous gold velour settee and is swamped with laughing dancing kids .. The Buccy windows glow and inside it's festooned with gorgeous glittering decorations and a wall of customers clapping gloved hands at the bar and throwing small change in the tinselled buckets. Gill is the best landlady a village could hope for . Her pub embodies all that's good and kind and community in Gunnislake, and after we've sung and gossiped and marvelled at the remembrance balloons as they sailed skywards, we women sit by a banked up glowing fire, an extended coven , draining our glasses and discussing the state of play with our love lives, kids and separate fortunes and our hopes for 2018. The closeness in this sprawling village is sometimes so astounding, the happiness I've found here moves me .. In the dark it's beautiful, little lanes and alleys, so many homes set like glowing teeth in the night in a huge poor mouth, the notorious pounding main street, the vanished glory of Commercial Street, the housing estates, cottages , the decrepit but noble Public Hall and Social Hall and the four pubs , the menagerie and terrifying windows of Pete and Di's Bazaar and, the glory of it, bigger than all of us, the huge pointed pine forest that sillhouettes itself for our wonder, that looms over us, lies under a moon for us and makes this the place of fairytale villagers, Simple Jacks, dames and widows. This ordinary , extraordinary place is something else, something that no outsider that decries it, can really understand . Gunnislake, we love you.
Just some thoughts, from the interview with Jane Ridsdill, about the use of (usually) red washes when painting, my nighttime perambulations and on the recent show in Plymouth.
Great last day at The Good Coffee HQ, Ebrington St today .. lovely to see so many old friends... fabulous and fierce troubleshooting and debate on things psychogical, artistical and gender-ical.. brilliant ! Thank you Jonathan for the best arts venue, debate forum , ideas pit and coffee in town!
Next stop: Pentillie!
In the slight pause between now and then my Bruv will be putting up some of the previously lost images of my work from bygone days. Please send in more or better images of my 'lost' work if you can xxx
Under a Hunter's Moon : New Paintings & Prints by Jo March Exhibition. It runs from Thursday 5th October (18:00 Preview Evening) until Thursday 19th at 5pm
You are cordially invited to come along and enjoy an Autumn show by Westcountry artist, Jo March at the delectable Ebrington St. Coffee Shop of her friend Mr Jonathan Smyth. The show will feature a selection of her recent work and serve as a tempting taster for a one-woman show planned for 2018, venue to be confirmed . Mingle with others in the company of Painted Poachers, Rambling Lads and Feathered Harlots all set amongst the cottages, fine houses and green hills of Miss March's make-believe land.... and of course, whilst you're there, treat yourself to the very best coffee and cake Plymouth has to offer
59 Ebrington St., PL4 9AA Plymouth
Sweet hazy autumn sunshine melting over Kingswood road today and it's not even mid-August . The trees in the front garden are carelessly laughing and dropping their apples, rosehips shine huge and fat and red whilst the roses still bloom by their sides and my mouth, as I came in through the backgate, was crammed with blackberries and my thoughts full of crumble . An afternoon of painting now but I want to go loitering in hedges. Along the lanes , in deep hedges and long grass is the aromatic scent of blowsy Summer, the mature lady, hoisting up her damp skirts and summoning Autumn in all his glory. This feeling comes unbidden every year with the scent of warm leafmould and crushed petals, hazy sunshine and the new young birds singing independent on their boughs. Summer and Autumn are the eternal lovers and this year's romance has begun.
Just realised that I have not published the venue and dates of my little show on here! (Buried in the Western Morning News article posted earlier but not as visible as they might be!
Up From The Country: A Life In Landscape by Jo March
The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery
Showing from December 10 to 16.