All the desks today belong to a group of six women friends here in my village: Wendy Froud, Carol Amos, Elizabeth-Jane Baldry, Hazel Brown, Marja Lee Kruyt, and me. We've known each other for twenty-plus years, and have long had the ritual of meeting up on the first Friday of each month for what has come to be known as our Faery Godmother evenings, sharing food and wine and art and stories and supporting each other through the ups and downs of life. In honor of my fellow-Godmothers, I thought it would be fun to publish these "On Your Desk" photographs as a group.
The first desk belongs to Wendy Froud, whose studio sits in the eaves of the old thatched Devon longhouse that she shares with her husband, painter Brian Froud. Wendy is a master doll artist and sculptor; she has made puppets for The Muppet Show and for films including Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Empire Strikes Back; and her art has been featured in four books: A Midsummer Night's Faery Tale, The Winter Child, The Faeries of Spring Cottage, and The Art of Wendy Froud. She is also a writer whose work has been published in Sirens, Troll's Eye View, The Heart of the Faery Oracle and other books. Born and raised in the U.S., Wendy has lived on Dartmoor for over thirty years now.
Regarding the photo above, Wendy says: "This is my desk as of noon today. I'm just finishing up these two figures -- homage to the ballroom scene in Labyrinth. The essentials are a cup of tea, glue, paint, scissors and three pairs of glasses -- one medium distance, one reading and one magnifying. Oh to have young eyes!"
Two more of Wendy's exquisite dolls are pictured in the photograph below. Her work can be seen on the World of Froud website, in her Etsy shop, and in "Bringing Myth to Life" in the Journal of Mythic Arts.
Next up is Carol Amos' tranquil desk, presided over (aptly enough) by a Faery Godmother doll created by Wendy. Born and raised in the U.S., Carol has lived in England for over thirty years, first coming over here with her now-husband Todd to work on the film set of Labyrinth. Carol is a child psychologist and an artist whose creativity is expressed through photography, permaculture gardening, and other family-&-community-oriented pursuits. She shares a big, rambling Victorian house with Todd (a film puppeteer and director), three children, two cats, a dog, and snake. There are also geese in the garden, filmmakers in the attic, and no doubt a ghost or two as well...
About the pictures below she says: "The Faery Godmother doll was given to me by Wendy when I went to the hospital to have Ely, my youngest child, in 2001. The lovely doll was given special permission to preside over Ely's birth in the operating theatre! She has important treasures in her box. The crystal clock is a gift from my sister for being in her wedding way back when. The postcard is a print of an oil on canvas by Daniel Adams called Torridge Bank. Danny taught an outdoor painting class for about four months last year that I enjoyed. You can see the Trail of Tears book that I read over Christmas--I am currently piecing together some ancestry information about the Kentucky Cherokee side of my family and this has been a very supportive background read.
"There is not much room for books in my window corner desk but the views are beautiful. And I can concentrate on report writing as it is away from the main traffic of our lively household in a window bay of our bedroom. Being so close to the windows, the furry vest (below) is a necessary part of the entire process at this time of year, as anyone familiar with Dartmoor weather and old English houses will know! It comes from a friend's father, who was raising money by selling these Afghan vests to build a hospital and medical centre for women in Afghanistan."
Visit the family blog, From the Doghouse, for a taste of life in the Todd-Amos household, and to see some of Carol's wonderful photographs paired with her husband's writings.
Next, Elizabeth-Jane Baldry's romantic workspace in a cottage chock full of instruments, books, medieval treasures, and Pre-Raphaelite art. Elizabeth-Jane is a concert harpist and composer, so she works in her music room, among her harps, rather than at a desktop. (One of my favorite things about life in our village is walking down the street past Elizabeth-Jane's and hearing harp music pouring through the windows.)
The photo below was taken while she was busy at work on her latest project: composing music for Goblin Market, a performance for spoken voice and harp based on the Victorian poem by Christina Rossetti, which has its premier in Brighton in May.
Elizabeth-Jane is also the founder and director of the Chagford Filmmaking Group, devoted to creating British fairy tale films with the involvement of young people in the community. Visit her website to learn more about her enchanting music (including a CD of Victorian fairy music for the harp), and visit the Chagford Filmmaking Group's website to learn more about her equally enchanting films.
The next two photos come from Hazel Brown, who works out of a lovely old cottage in the next village over from us. Hazel is an artist whose paintings range from seascapes of the south Devon coast to fairy illustrations rendered in her own distinctive style; she is also a bookbinder, calligrapher, and an avid reader of literature old and new. Hazel's illustrations have been published in The Art of Faery, her calligraphy in Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Letters (by Brian Froud and Ari Berk), and she sells her powerful landscape/seascape paintings through a number of galleries here in the U.K.. She also draws upon all of her interests and skills in the creation of exquisite hand-made books on a variety of magical, botanical, and etymological subjects. Some of those little books can be glimpsed on the charmingly cluttered desk in the photographs below.
Next we have my Bumblehill Studio, which is in a cabin on the side of the hill behind our house, up against a beautiful woodland. The long, rectangular building is divided by a bookcase into writing and painting areas, with a sofa on the writing side where my pup likes to snooze while I work. (You've already seen my writing/editing desk at the start of this photo series.)
The first photo below shows the desktop where I sketch and paint, with supplies spread across surrounding tabletops. The little window looks out to the trees of the woods, and the opposite wall is glass from floor to ceiling, overlooking the rolling Devon hills.
The table in the second photo is where I assemble collages -- with a collage-in-progress on the tabletop and collage materials stored in the boxes below. It also holds the music I work to -- a necessary part of the art-marking process!
And last, but certainly not least (as you'll soon see), is Marja Lee Kruyt's garden studio. Born and raised in the Netherlands, Marja studied art in Amsterdam, worked as a fashion illustrator in London, and has lived in Devon since the 1970s. Having returned to painting after raising two children (her daughter Virginia's desk was in yesterday's post), Marja has gained a devoted following in the US and UK for her mystical, visionary art distinguished by its delicate detail and rich mythic symbolism. Her work has appeared in books, magazines, and on CDs, and can be viewed online in "Vision and Dream: The Art of Marja Lee Kruyt" in the Journal of Mythic Arts.
"Through the use of color, line, the symbolic nature of garments, objects, patterns, and flowers, I attempt to create pictures that work on many levels," she says, "marrying this reality with other levels of realities, of dream and intuition. Painting, to me, is soul work, healing work. It's a kind of meditation."
Marja's studio sits at the back of a "secret garden," tucked away at the end of a path behind the old stone building where she lives. The first photograph below was taken from a point just behind the studio, looking through the window glass to the desk and easel inside. (Look hard and you'll catch the ghost of the painter's reflection in the upper left corner.)
Next we see the desk surface and the easel from inside the studio...
...and finally we see Marja's view through the doorway as she sits at her desk to work.
Now, I know I'm supposed to be focused on desktops, but I can't resist including this last photo, which shows Marja's studio nestled in its winter landscape. I think it's one of the most magical studios I've ever seen...equaled only by the magic created inside it.
All readers of this blog are welcome to contribute to the "On Your Desk" series. You'll find more information (and the address where you should send your photo) in the first post of the series, and you can view the full series here.