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New Wistmans wood print

wistmans wood print

 

When looking into local history and folklore I particularly find interesting those stories of hellhounds and wild huntsmen. I think the character of the wild huntsman or dark rider is a very primal being, possibly one of the oldest, that of a strong and wild man who rides the forest, hunting prey without mercy.

Back when Druids roamed the moors this was hunting to kill for survival. hunting was once a part of the cycle of life, and man was hunted as well as the hunter.

At Wistmans wood, however, the local folklore takes us to a darker realm and the hounds at Wistmans wood seen on dark foggy and foreboding nights, are said to be lead out to hunt for the Devil. Local moorland folk would tell tales of the sounds of pounding hooves approaching, and feel the wild fear in their thumping hearts.  The adrenaline coursing through their body as they ran to save not only their life but their immortal soul too.

In Dartmoor, these Hounds of Hell are given the name of Wisht Hounds or a variation of such. According to Traditions, Superstitions & Folklore by Charles Hardwick (1872), a writer in the Quarterly Review of July 1836 wrote;

 “the wild huntsman still lingers in Devonshire. He says, “the spectre pack which hunts over Dartmoor is called the ‘wish hounds’, and the black ‘master’ who follows the chase is no doubt the same who has left his mark of wistman’s wood,” a neighbouring forest of dwarf oaks.”

Devils Hounds at Wistmans Wood

 

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Prints with a tale to tell

tamar tales, calstock in grey

Tamar Tales Print

All my design inspiration starts with a local tale, a fragment of legend still floating about in the modern day.

My Tamar Tales print tells the tale of witch bitten fingers, poison paint, and a William Morris scandal.

His famous arsenic paint wallpapers were slowly poisoning people until it was discovered how dangerous this mineral was and mining for arsenic finally stopped.

His poison papers left a scare on the Tamar valley landscape with vast contaminated woodlands still dangerous to this day. The great consol mines on the Tamar trails lay testament to this deadly industry.

There are also witch burnings, murderous monks and not so friendly fairy folk tales around Tavistock and the surrounding moor.

 Tamar Hare Print

You might not realise that the beautiful hare was once a common sight along the Tamar, They were however hunted by the Duke of Bedford estate, to near extinction locally, as they were believed to be witches that had transformed into hares as a means of disguise and a fast escape. They were blamed for the gangrene fingers of the arsenic miners, known as witch bitten fingers. The miners and local townsfolk could seek some consolation by eating the hare in pies and pasties.

tamar hare pattern

 

The Tinners Hare Print

My interpretation of this circular motif tells an interesting tale, not just locally but it goes very far back to the ancient Silk roads and trading posts of China.

No one actually knows its origins but it has been adopted by many including Buddhist monks, Christianity and also the Tin miners ( hence the tinner’s hares or also known as tinners rabbits ). Many Devon churches have used it as decoration, seen as the three holy trinities

Each of the ears is shared by two hares so that only three ears are shown. Although its meaning is apparently not explained in contemporary written sources from any of the medieval cultures where it is found, it is thought to have a range of symbolic or mystical associations with fertility and the lunar cycle.

tinners haresMy design brings in a few other interesting tale aspects.

The William Morris ode to his famous clover print, ( seen in the background ) as I feel the link with local devon hare cullings due to Morris’s arsenic paints is intertwined.

Also the fact that miners use the symbol, again intertwined with the witch bitten miners fingers as explained above.

I also wanted to add the circle which indicates the Buddhist links to the hare. They have a belief in hares being intertwined with the Luna Cycle. They see the hare as a symbol of fertility and rebirth as the hare’s gestation period is the same as a full lunar cycle.

I could go on……the subject of these three hares is fascinating and whole books have been written on the matter.

My personal belief is that its origins can be traced back to the Vikings ( Norsemen) that invaded Britain.

The Norsemen would have traded their amber on the silk roads in China long before invasions of Norsemen hit the British shores and in their religion, they had three Norms (three witches) that lived in the roots of their world tree (Yagisdril). these three norms shared an eye (Shakspere link?), which to me represents the central point and these norms would transform into hares?….now that seems like an interesting coincidence ) As the Viking religion is one of the oldest known religions ….long before Buddha or Christianity was formed I believe that its root could have started from here, but with no real evidence, only an educated guess is all I can base this on.

 

Latest Project; Modern Day Witch

I have been reverting back to my roots lately and picking up the pencils again.

I did a lot of life drawing and portrait work during my fashion degree and after buying a pack of blendable pencils on a whim at the start of the year, I have found the love again for my drawing.

crazywell pool inspired modern day witch

My current project was inspired by my walks onto Dartmoor and all the folklore associated with this area.

I recently visited Crazy well Pool, a wild swimming spot thought to have been frequented by witches a few hundred years ago.

My train of thought went on to imagine what these women must have done to be suspected of witchcraft. I imagine them to just be ladies who did not follow the conventions of the time, possibly practiced healing through the fauna and flora in the area or followed the ancient ways of the Druids and Celts.

They may have followed the seasonal change and Luna cycles and would have had a more wild way of life, linked to the earth and the sky, than the current norms.

Their botanical knowledge could possibly have been far superior to some of the gentlemen of the time, and I’m sure their study of the therapeutic use of plants would put them into the realms of a Herbologist.

They may have also studied the insects (Entomology) or the local trees (Dendrology) and used their knowledge to feed themselves and become healers. I think these ladies would be more akin to zoologists rather than just being labeled a witch!

MANTIS 2

I decided to start a modern-day witch project, with a possible book at the end, and draw some modern women who would represent these misunderstood ladies who in today’s times may well have been scientists, zoologists, and doctors, hence the suits and modern appearance.

Its very easy to go down a route of dark art, scruffy bedraggled wild women and atmospheric moorland scenes when you talk of witches, but I didn’t want to show these women in that light.

My work hopes to celebrate the notable and influential women who, through their activism in their chosen field, made contributions to history and society and hope to highlight that females can do many things other than being the housewife or caregiver and that a road traveled in science can be a fruitful one.

 

 

Collections

 

Hi and welcome to my website .

I am an Artist Illustrator and Printmaker working from my garden studio in Tavistock Devon.

I sell my prints and homewares in various shops and galleries in and around Devon and Cornwall. I generally work in three mediums…Lino cut and block cut prints….Pen and Ink sketches and paints….mainly acrylics on canvas.

please feel free to contact me through the contact section with any queries or commissions.

Many Thanks Chloe

 

Pen and Ink;

line drawn sketches in modern monochrome ,Pen and Ink.

these initial drawings are often moved on to screens for my screen printed upcycle range ( wooly soup ) and some coloured for various homeware collections ( boxing  hare, Blackberry Theif collections)

 

 

Block Prints;

Lino Cuts and Block prints , modern Rustic, arts and craft style country living

Paint;

Watercolour and acrylic paintings, classic colour pallets and modern artisan style