This is me, working on a piece for The Wessex Mysteries – the series I’m doing with David Bridger.
David went through the text for all of the geographical content in the book. While the setting is based on actual Dorset, we’ve made a lot up. I then took his notes and worked that into a fairly basic sort of map. Tom took the map and turned it into a view of the landscape – it’s not a realistic perspective, more a kind of illustrative, narrative approach to map making, which I rather like. I then came back in to ink the whole thing.
I don’t have a designated art space, so I usually work on a board wherever is most comfortable – usually with my knees up like this. I live in a small space with two other people and a cat, so there has to be a lot of flexibility around how work gets done.
One of the things visible here is how I hold a pen – I’ve always held it this way, despite many people trying to ‘correct’ me as a child. I have hypermobile hands, and a ‘proper’ hold is prohibitively painful for me. When I was a child, no one ever asked why I was refusing to hold the pen properly, the focus was all on trying to normalise me. I think we’ve come a long way since those days and there seems to be considerably more willingness to make room for difference. If you look at my left hand you can see my joints bending the wrong way. This is something that affects my whole body.
Having the space to do things on my own terms is incredibly important to me. If I can’t sit in the way my body needs to sit, or hold a pen in the way that works for me, I can’t really function. There are a great many people who have comparable issues and needs and who can’t thrive if forced to conform to other people’s ideas about what a body should be able to do.
There’s a kind of mono-thinking that permeates a lot of white, western culture. One God, one truth, one true way. One right way of holding your pen – I think of all the people who are older than me who were put through all kinds of needless distress for being left handed. People are diverse in all kinds of ways, and anything that insists on only having a solitary ‘right way’ of engaging is bound to needlessly exclude.
This is part of why I was so attracted to Druidry in the first place. It’s not a path, as such, it’s an approach that allows people to make their own journey on their own terms. There’s no one right way of being a Druid, and no demands intrinsic to Druidry that casually dismiss people or deny their existence. There’s always scope to tinker things to make them work for you, and I think that’s incredibly important.