carolynblackart blog

Belief, Stories and Marketing – how the Rooster story grabbed my attention

Belief, Stories and Marketing

One of the reasons I wrote the Rooster of Notre Dame piece is that I was struck by the story. In terms of marketing, it’s an excellent example of keeping something up there in the public eye:

Stage one – the fire – HUGE worldwide attention

Stage two – the fundraising – another WOW factor

Stage three – the amount of money!

Stage four – the thorn from Jesus’s crown, hidden in a weather vane

The press grabbed it and ran – even Wiki was already bearing the fact of the fire and who found the rooster – Wiki says the relic was saved by Jean-Marc Fournier, Chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade. The Telegraph claims the rooster was found by a worker at the site. Another says it was a restoration specialist

In storytelling, anything is up for grabs.

As we all keep reminding ourselves – Brexit – you couldn’t make it up.

Which takes me to belief – we all know the saying “It beggars belief” – to be unbelievable or not deserving to be believed : to defy belief.

With a weird turn of my memory, I recall that when I was studying for a PhD I met another researcher who had a theory that Jesus was the first marketeer. Funny how some stories lingers in one’s mind. This now feels like a strange circle of thinking – here I am referring to marketing, in relation to one of the most iconic religious buildings in the world, and I recall that micro-fact.

The truth be told, (if truth exists), is I took a certain delight in hearing about the rooster. The majority of religions have failed to sell their story to me, I just find them impossible to believe. Yet here comes a charred cock, a metal weather vane that apparently holds a religious relic, and I am seduced by it. It drove me to explore the story behind it too, which is pretty plausible.

Maybe it is now gauging my own capacity to believe in something.


Here it is again:

The Rooster of Notre Dame

Fallen from the burning spire

Hidden

Inside the battered blackened twisted body

Of the rooster

Lies one of the 70 thorns of the Holy crown of Jesus Christ

Concealed and protected

From weather, fire and time

Inside a spiritual lightning rod

The crown a plaited instrument of passion

“We may behold the thorny crown, which was only set upon the head of Our Redeemer in order that all the thorns of the world might be gathered together and broken” (Migne, LXX, 621)

Botanically known as Ziziphus spina-christi,

More popularly, the jujube tree

Tasting of apple

With the appearance of a small date

The pit like that of an olive

In 1238 the Latin Emperor of Constantinople

Anxious to obtain support for his tottering empire

Offered the crown of thorns to Louis IX

As security for a heavy loan of 13,134 gold pieces

But redeemed and conveyed to Paris where Louis IX built the Sainte-Chapelle (completed 1248) to receive it.

There the relic stayed, until the French Revolution

When, after finding a home for a while in the Bibliothèque Nationale

The Concordat of 1801 restored it to the Church, and it was deposited in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame

During the Notre-Dame de Paris fire of April 15, 2019

Two days later, while ash and the tang

Of charred timber

Both hang in the air

The fund to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral has reached a billion euros

To house the thorn

In five years time

The rooster will be re-homed

The cathedral be restored

 

 

The Rooster of Notre Dame

Fallen from the burning spire

Hidden

Inside the battered blackened twisted body

Of the rooster

Lies one of the 70 thorns of the Holy crown of Jesus Christ

Concealed and protected

From weather, fire and time

Inside a spiritual lightning rod

The crown a plaited instrument of passion

“We may behold the thorny crown, which was only set upon the head of Our Redeemer in order that all the thorns of the world might be gathered together and broken” (Migne, LXX, 621)

Botanically known as Ziziphus spina-christi,

More popularly, the jujube tree

Tasting of apple

With the appearance of a small date

The pit like that of an olive

In 1238 the Latin Emperor of Constantinople

Anxious to obtain support for his tottering empire

Offered the crown of thorns to Louis IX

As security for a heavy loan of 13,134 gold pieces

But redeemed and conveyed to Paris where Louis IX built the Sainte-Chapelle (completed 1248) to receive it.

There the relic stayed, until the French Revolution

When, after finding a home for a while in the Bibliothèque Nationale

The Concordat of 1801 restored it to the Church, and it was deposited in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame

During the Notre-Dame de Paris fire of April 15, 2019

Two days later, while ash and the tang

Of charred timber

Both hang in the air

The fund to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral has reached a billion euros

To house the thorn

In five years time

The rooster will be re-homed

The cathedral be restored

Have you read my book Severnside – An Artist’s View Of The Severn? If so I’d like your feedback please….

You know what it’s like, you spend years working on something, let it go wild into the world, and forget to ask for any feedback. Maybe you’re a bit shy about it, I know I am. It is my first book and it’s very auto biographical. Like parting with a drawing or painting, it is a part of me and it feels a bit post-partum. The baby has grown up and left home. Gone. Empty nest syndrome.

Thank you to everyone that bought a copy – I am very surprised (in a good way!) that the edition of 100 signed and numbered copies have nearly all gone. I have only six left and I want to use them wisely and see if I can do a bit of marketing with them.

And that’s where I need your help.

Now I feel a bit more secure about things, in the light that I’ve received some very lovely comments, and some people bought more, indeed many kore, than one copy, I need to stop hiding my light under the bushel and do a bit of shouting about it. So if you know a Hay or Cheltenham Lit Festival manager , do mention it. In the meantime, I wish to write a bit of promotion material and would REALLY appreciate some written feedback.

Either email it to me carolyndevos@gmail.com, put it in my contact form, or comment on this blogpost.

And if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about it – here’s some information. I plan to print another edition.

thank you!!!

Carolyn

severnside book cover.jpg

 

 

Saturday thoughts: black, white, grey, erasure, rebuilding, remembering

I’m in the middle of doing a large charcoal and chalk drawing on black pastel paper. I’ve always had a penchant for working on black surfaces. During my MA I projected videos onto black perspex, lay thick printing inks onto black watercolour when I made monoprints.


I attended an Arvon writing residency about arts writing and we were invited to choose an image to write about in first person. I chose this:

ellsworth-kelly-ek-319-daros

and wrote this:

ELLSWORTH KELLY 1963
WHITE OVER BLACK
I am the shadow underneath
Hosted on black, barely visible
Where white drapes over me, I gain attention
You will notice white more too
When I lurk below it
Even the black cannot deny me
When white reveals me
Without my subtlety
Their boldness would go unnoticed
They would be flat dull and lifeless
I am the space between
I give the illusion of space
I am their breathe

My first ever website was called “Grey Matters” and had a drawing of a human brain as it’s main image. I’ve always enjoyed exploring liminal places, and spaces, and thoughts.


I married a man named Black


I wear black



I have always had black and white pets!


I just looked for some of my old work in my portfolio and found these old friends. After all these years I can see a connection in my artwork. Landscape. Virtuality. Space. Trees.

Worked in many mediums, woodcuts, lino cuts, etchings, ink washes, charcoal, photography, projected shed snake skins (yes, that’s my self portrait!)

So here they are, a blast from my past, and a work in progress now…..(click each for full size)

 


work in progress today:

pond series - work in progress 190119
charcoal and chalk pastel on black pastel paper 1 metre wide

blogpost about community art centres and Prema

I wrote this on my Flow Contemporary Arts website and today it is pertinent to share here. I’m exhibiting at Prema, so a bit of backstory may be useful to readers. You can read the whole article here.

Or here’s a  an extract:

Below is a long list of my relationship with Prema (dates are approximate, my memory fails me a little):

1987 I took my kids to family arts workshops on Saturday mornings at Prema. Also went to see performances, music etc

1988 first went to a life drawing class there – the tutor told me I was good and should go to art college. With a 3yr old and a 1yr old, I just laughed

1989 I started my art foundation at UWE, same day my youngest started school.

1990 I started by degree at UWE. I also taught workshops and Saturday clubs for kids. One of the little ones I taught is now my graphic designer, Nic Bennet.

1992 2nd year students at UWE had a show there called 2/3rds Through

prema

(image was my work!)

1993/4 (can’t remember) had a show at Prema – the rest is history…..

Future years – I did some marketing for them; I attended lots of stunning performances by new physical theatre groups. I used the dark room.

Around 2005 I attended  ‘Can’t Sing to Save your Life’ course – I’d always wanted to sing but was terribly shy. I LOVED it and have been in many choirs since. I think it helped me lose my shyness too (no comments, thank you). Yesterday I saw Lizzie, the singing tutor for the first time since then – and told her that one of the songs she taught me gave me the strength to leave my failing marriage of 30 years…..wow, it was so good to tell her that.

And there we were, in the same room, discussing leadership, ABCD and how important the arts are to our lives and how we need to celebrate that. In the morning I had attended a funding workshop aimed at informing charities how to seek funding – how to fill their deficits. And in the afternoon I was in a place, Prema, that had constantly fed my not-enough until I was brimming with delight at what I HAVE. And much of that came from Prema – an organisation that is not self-serving –  it supports the community in which it resides. And when I say community I mean both arts community AND local community. Prema has grown and changed over time, but what it has consistently done is meet the needs of its users. It puts people at the forefront of its thinking through good management and exemplary leadership. It feels like a home, not just for me, but for everyone that goes there.

There was a lot of talk about community in the room, kindness, wholeheartedness, all somewhat gushy compared to the hard-nosed economic business model we are being levered into. We are artists. We are emotional and we care. Those are our assets and we must learn to use it and refuse to be constantly trying to prove our economic viability.

We have social assets, and are brimming with them. Prema proves that.

 

 

 

free-writing from May 2018 about the Severn Bore

 

Arrival

Standing, I take one panning video of the river, left to right

Then sit at eye level with brambles, restricting my view

Like being in a cheap seat

At the theatre

Listening

Sounds of the Severn, small dancing waves

Running, apparently  towards the sea

But not for long

Pigeons coo, sparrows twitter their replies

Witnessing

A blister of waves bursts over the sandbank

Exposed to bright light

Sun glare blinding.

Hard to look

Retinas narrow to focus, see the distant

Church spire in Westbury, like a sharp needle

Piercing the skyline

Bright green grass on the other bank

Low clouds forming, chilly wind rising

Twinkling sparkling

Water on sand spits

Distance

The boats at Bullo, masts leaning

Distant dark shapes, sitting solid on sand

A seal? A surfer? A lump of wood?

A body?

A pool of water catches my eye on the bend

A wave? No, the riverbed is still dry near Awre

No incoming tide

Yet

Light

Lights on lights off

Clouds filter the sun – a sole surfer glides past

Sitting, he rides the river flow, to later return

On the cusp of the bore?

Colour

To the left the sandspit looks burnt umber now

With a chrome white line of foam

Defining it against the steely cold water

Then the sun blooms, the ochre colours break through mirrored

By wet sand pools

Patterns

To the right, the riverbed is like a sandy beach

Shadows of clouds drawing bar codes across it

My eyes scan it, while my ears register

The water getting louder

The black lump is still down there near bullo

The wind whips the water up

The bushes quiver towards the sea

Three more surfers enter

Surfers

From the opposite bank, two surfers carry boards

On their heads, the walk together

The other grips his tightly

Under his arm

Filming

Standing, I notice there are a couple of people on opposite bank

And the sandbank below the river bank at Newnham has wonderful ripples in it,

Each tiny crevice highlighted by the sun as it rises

The pigeons coo

There’s another black lump in the distance to the left of me

I keep glancing to my right

Checking out the bend where the bore

Will appear

Waiting

Nothing yet, on the left

A single duck naively (or knowingly)

Glides on the rivertide

The cliff ducks are wiser

They hangout behind the undercliff below Ruddle

Listen and watch when the wave approaches

As they fly out from behind the bushes

Quacking and flapping

If they don’t rise fast they run the risk

Of being battered against the cliff

Recent rockfall has left spliced slabs of red clay and tea green marl

Evidence of climate change

The ducks have learnt to survive

We have not done so well

Time

Is trapped here in stone

Breaking up in front of me

Rocks like squashed sandwiches

Compressed in a lunch bag

Separating them, I notice

Each layer is different

More waiting

Most the surfers are now out of sight, probably behind the cliff

With the ducks

The sun on my face is soothing

The clock chimes nine

The bore timetable lists the bore arrival as nine-o-seven

Time to pour my coffee

Time, it’s all about time

Waiting, passing

Dandelion clocks witness my flask

As it performs as a sundial

My body does too

The sun locates me in the world

On the ground, in the air, by this river

Two more surfers arrive

Lateness

Are they late, or the others early?

Or misinformed?

Another surfer arrives, whose board looks bigger than the others

It has a fin on it

He walks with a swagger

Still no wave

A tardy bore

Two more surfers come along

The first throws down his board

And runs back to the bank

He’s fetched another!

He leaves the first one, its blue, on the sand

He drags a golden board along and joins the other

Surfers gathered on the opposite bank

A white line is forming near the bend

On the west side

Four more surfers arrive, three with boards, one empty handed

The fourth lifts the blue one up under his arm

It looks heavy and hard to carry

Imminence

The white breaker edge has dissipated

The body of water is holding the shore behind the cliff

Out of sight

Four more surfers enter the shallow river, sitting on boards

Soon the wave will whip out from behind the cliff

There are no ducks

Yet

Arrival

As the wave gets closer I abandon my keyboard and stand to video

As I film, a skein of ducks flies out from behind the cliff

So predictable

Several surfers stand up, and stay up, for a while, all whooping and howling

The wild side of life let loose

My smile widens

The joyous relationship between humans and water never fails to delight

Afterswell

To surf safely you need to know and understand the river

It’s a social and cultural experience

As I film, my neighbour arrives (you may spot her ducking from the camera!)

As we talk, both keeping one eye on the tide, neither of us apologises when, intermittently, one points and comments on the waters progress

Our meeting here is incidental, our sole purpose is to see the bore

As the spectacle passes us by, the surfers tumble off one by one, then clamber out onto the banks on both sides

She points to the spire and tells me she was brought up by the river

Her mum worked at the thermometer factory in Newnham

A friend of theirs drowned in the river

Her mother used to sit by the river with colleagues as a young girl, having their lunchbreak

The river keeps flowing by

Getting deeper and deeper

All is well

As it always has been

IMG_1474.JPG

The Severn Bore on Christmas Day, Rudolph, Santa and Brexit too!

On the morning of Christmas Eve, she wandered down to the bank of the Severn to watch the bore as it formed on the bend between Awre and Arlingham. A fire was burning in the centre of the river, nearby a row of surfers stood to attention, clasping their boards, like herons waiting for their supper.

She had seen this sight many times before, but today was special, as she had the bank to herself. Most people only turn out to see four-star waves, the timetable for Christmas Eve was a humble two-star. As she so often did, she filmed the event on her mobile phone and posted it onto YouTube.

When the wave arrived there were eight or nine surfers riding it, by the time it had passed all but one had fallen off, whooping and yelping as they did so. One man left standing, silhouetted against a soft dawn sky as this busy day began.

Maybe it was one-star after all.

Christmas Eve is family time, with visitors, friends and lovers. By bedtime she went off to sleep quite quickly, but later was woken by a strange dream. One of those dreams that plays on one’s fears, when current affairs and children’s stories become peppered with time and space, creating strange collisions and collusions. In her dream, there were drones flying in the sky, trying to attack Santa and the reindeer. The reindeer fled and a woman tried to call them back, singing kulning songs. But they didn’t respond to her yearning call and Santa fell from the sky with a bump. He tried to get a back-up team of helpers, but because of Brexit, none could get their visa’s in time. Many had passport problems too, because travelling around had been pretty easy prior to the UK splitting from the EU. It was chaos and no-one seemed to be able to help.

She woke with a start, feeling very disturbed. She looked at her clock, it was 3.a.m. Children all over the country would wake up soon and find nothing. She turned to Twitter to see if there were any reports about drones. There’d been a few sightings, of both drones and Santa, but it’s hard to believe social media. Yet only days ago Gatwick Airport had been grounded and lots of travel disrupted because they thought drones were there. Which means even if the drone part about Santa’s story was only a dream, it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t cause chaos. Fake news can gain as much attention as real news these days.

Comforted by the fact that it was unlikely to be true, she rolled over and went back to sleep.

Christmas morning! She raced down the stairs, put the kettle on, grabbed boots, scarf, coat and gloves, made tea and rushed out the door. Another two-star bore predicted but she needed to be reassured that the world had not gone badly wrong. She was early, and she stood in the wonderful silence of the dawn, a still, dull day. The ducks flew over her head, reminding her of the drone. She recalled that when she edited her video yesterday, she saw there was a drone in the footage, one she had not spotted in her viewfinder while filming. She shuddered as she recalled her dream of drones and Brexit.

With no-one to watch her, she decided to try kulning. She had often thought of doing this to call the bore in, but that seemed a bit silly. But here, now, she could try and call the reindeer in. She found a firm area of mud, one the surfers used to climb in and out of the riverbed, and waded and squelched to centre-river. There she stood, facing south. She took a deep breath and called…..ah ho kee, keee-oh-hoo-hoo, ah ho hee hoo, hee-oooooo-he-hoo….

Nothing happened. The riverbed remained dry in the centre, the waters flowed gently in both directions. Her heart sank, as did her feet, no reindeer, no bore.  She was covered in mud.

As she climbed out onto the bank she felt very sad. Maybe she got the time wrong? She checked her watch and yes, she had! It wasn’t due for another half hour! Typical! She decided to nip home and refresh her cup of tea and change her boots, as they were very sticky with river silt.

By the time she returned there were flames again on the sand spit and about five or six surfers. One was dressed as Santa, which always made her smile. As she set up her camera, she spotted lots of debris trapped around the timber frame of the old ferry crossing. Old pallets bobbed about, bumping into each other. Could they be the very same pallets from the sleigh that carried the presents? It was a brown grey day with very little colour, so the splash of red bobbing in the water caught her eye as she zoomed in. A big red plastic bucket, the kind that would hold reindeer food! She was back in her dream and anxiously looked up into the sky. No drones today. Phew.

She heard the bore approaching and wondered, with a wry smile, whether it had heard her singing. She turned her video on and tracked the wave as it passed, dropping off surfers as it did so – no good rides today. As she filmed, she captured the pallets and the buckets, hoping to seem them washed away. Large branches rushed past on the ride, not unlike antlers. She shuddered again. She decided that when she got home to edit, she would examine the footage for drones.

She attached all the cables and went to export the footage. Oh no! She had one still picture, that was all. She had not worn her glasses and had pressed the wrong button. She had no evidence to her story, no Santa, no bucket or pallets.

So she wrote this story instead, to record just how much life can get in the way of imagination, but can also add to it too. Did she really sing in the river?  Was there really a red bucket belonging to Rudolph in the river? Were those actually broken bits of Santa’s sleigh?

Who knows, but what we can be reassured of, is children everywhere today will enjoy their presents and hopefully, if the nightmare was not true, then Brexit won’t happen either. Ever.

Happy New Year!

(with homage to “T’was the night before Christmas” By Clement Clarke Moore)

IMG_0541 2