On Your Desk
On Your Desk

On Your Desk

Wendy-desk

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.

Wendyfroud

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.

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"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.

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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.

Composing_goblin_market

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.

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Hazel-desk2

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.

My drawing desk

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!

Collage assembly table

Collage in process

(To see an outside view of my studio, nestled into its woodsy hillside, go here; and for a little photo album of all of my studios, past and present, go here.)

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.)

Marja Lee 2

Next we see the desk surface and the easel from inside the studio...

Marja Lee 5

Marja Lee 6

...and finally we see Marja's view through the doorway as she sits at her desk to work.

From Marja's studio

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.

Marja Lee

Marja Lee Kruyt"The Rose of Stonehenge" by Marja Lee Kruyt

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.

Comments

*melts away*

I feel, looking at these desks of women I so powerfully admire, that I'm seeing years and years of work and growth. Not in the desks themselves, but in everything brought to them: gardens, tea, space, it's all a beautiful culmination of lives lived in fullness.

Oh, I've died and gone to heaven! How wonderful to be a 'faery godmother' among such company, to be able to meet and laugh and discuss ideas with other creative women. Much sighing accompanied the reading of this post, and I've said it before and will no doubt say it many times more...I want to live THERE!

And so many familiar things here...I now know who did the beautiful calligraphy in my "Squashed Faery" book, I have seen the desks where Sneezle was born, and Yoda and the Gelflings, I even spied a postcard of the Mermaid Chair! I love the fact that Wendy's dolls pop up on other desks, that your beautiful drawings are pinned up on other pin boards, a sharing and circling of creativity and beauty, just as it should be.

This "On your desk" series is how I found your blog to begin with (via Rima Staines Hermitage) and I am so grateful that I did!

I've only been reading a few weeks but I've found so much beauty and inspiration here I can't even begin to thank you enough for all the effort you put into your regular updating. Reading your blog is a highlight of my day. So much to admire, inspire and aspire to, so much that wakes creative ideas from their winter hibernations.

If I had only one wish with your blog it would be that the RSS feed displayed the whole post rather than the first few sentences as I often read the sites I subscribe to on mobile devices on the move. That would be just about perfect!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Terri for all your work here, my heart smiles to read and enjoy it all.

devon must be a magical place with all of that artistic spirit present. what beautiful work and spaces!!

This is my favorite one yet in the series.

"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."

How absolutely splendid! What a gift that must be. Like Amal, I am melting.

I actually stumbled upon a post of your last year detailing faerie music, which is how I found Elizabeth-Jane's work. She's amazing!

I also really love "The Rose of Stonehenge," Wendy's gorgeous dolls, and well, pretty much everything in this post!

Thank you for sharing this glimpse into your collective magic, Terri.

P.S. Must unearth my miniature copy of Lady Cottington's!

Great desk journey - and what a great Faery Godmother group you have. I, too love the last studio in the garden. The grant to build a new art and teaching space here at RavenWood is enough only for the most basic structure, but I love seeing how I might create magic and enchantment with little details - like the arched porch details. Thanks for the inspiration.

What I've noticed about all the photos of desks from your village (and surroundings) is the quality of the light. It's grey and warm at the same time. I find myself wondering what it would be like to make art in light like that. Here in Colorado, at our latitude and altitude, the light is bright and almost hard. Very seldom is the air thick or wet enough to soften it. Our beauty tends to be the stark, bright, pungent kind.

*sign* Such beautiful work spaces! Well, I guess since you see them every day they don't look too special to you, but for someone (= me) that hasn't yet established a proper desk he or she is really confident and happy with, your desks look so much more.. I can't find good words for that in English.. finished. Or.. right. Yes, I think they look "right". They look like they are supposed to look that way.

Wow thank you Terri! Have spent a wonderful few hours this morning exploring the Devonish worlds of your gathering of faery godmothers, what a feast for the soul!

Oh my! How much would I love to be a fly on the wall for one of your Faery Godmother evenings!

Like all the commentators above, I am so enjoying this series of blogs, it's like being given permission to mooch around in other people's inner sanctums; not something any of us are usually privy to, and ohhh for a summer house studio like the photos you've shown, Marja is one very lucky (and talented!) lady!

I sit and dream at my desk. It is a portal of the mind to know I can be there for awhile. I see this with these, as well. It is where we play and seriously express. I wonder at all those walking through this world without making a niche. I wonder at it and can't imagine. I have such joy seeing the harps and hearing about what is to come with the music. My neighbor has a room like this and taught lessons on harp when she was younger. I find names like Hazel Brown wonderful. I grew-up with an old darling behind me on a great wooded lot and her name was Hazel Green. I know it started me on finding the pieces that led me to my faerytale puzzle. A house in the back, a sole little old lady, with wrinkles and a wink and cookies and recycled cards for me on holidays. She is long gone, but, this post brought her to my mind and I thank-you Terri for that and for sharing these magical places with me. Thanks, again, for featuring my desk, as well. I feel the sides of my mouth crinkle-up into a smile just thinking about that feature. Blessings and light to you from Amy

Devon never stops looking or feeling special to me, perhaps because I grew up in a very different environment.

Keep in mind that none of us are *young* woman -- and one of the advantages of growing older is that we've had time to settle into our work spaces, work lives, and work rhythms. You'll get there too.

I know precisely what you mean. The light in Tucson, too, is so different from here. There are days when I miss it.

Thank you all for your kind comments.

I *think* I've managed to change the feed setting so that you'll now get the whole post. Let me know if it still doesn't work....And thank you so much for your sweet words.

Terri,
You six, like a hexagram of art and power, (although as faerie women, there must be an invisible seventh to finish the faery star!) are Faery Goddessmothers to all of us as well. You have given us gifts. Just think, to inspire more art, that is a fine present indeed. Whenever I try to describe the birth of this movement we are experiencing to someone, the Mythic Arts, I always start it off with telling them about you, and how you are the Faery Godmother of it all. Well, now I realize that it is grounded in the sacred feminine even more so, and the child was given gifts.

One of my great joys was when I met Marja and Virginia. I knew of Marja's work from the Faerie Magazine article, but now I have a piece on in my collection. Her talent is remarkable and I like to share her with those who are unfamiliar with it. Here is my blog entry on meeting them: http://wildwose.livejournal.com/38864.html

What an adventure! I saw mention of this project on FaceBook (Shane Odom, I think) Had to check it out. I know everyone's work whose space was shown...nice to now know where it comes from. I have a nice "space" of my own but, it's still a thrill to see others. Keep up the good work, Terri. We're all watching and listening. Gary

Amazing! What great studios you all have. Personally though, I don't understand how you could concentrate in such big wide spaces! Perhaps iv'e been working in my sardine tin of a bedroom for too long...

Gary, we would all like to see that space. You should send pictures to Terri!

Hey there again :)
Inspired by your beautiful desks I thought about getting myself a second work space by the window. That would give me the oportunity of having one desk just for paper work and PC stuff and one just for my art. And I couldn't use the excuse "Oh I have to do homework but well I can't because the colours haven't dried yet" anymore. ;)

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