Folklore Fridays: Sunday 21st October 1638

Sunday 21st October 1638 double cover

This comic was created for the Past in its Place workshop, held at Buckfast Abbey 17th-18th April 2015.

Many thanks to conference organiser – Philip Schwyzer – for  accepting a comic as a contribution to the workshop, and to David Harvey, whose blog post inspired the comic.

The narrative and images for the historical account of the storm are based on The two Widecombe tracts 1638: giving a contemporary account of the great storm.

Sunday 21st October 1638

01 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

02 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

03 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

04 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

05 Jan Reynolds and the Devil

H Sackett MAP

01 Sunday 21st October 1638

02 Sunday 21st October 1638

03 Sunday 21st October 1638

04 Sunday 21st October 1638

05 Sunday 21st October 1638

Dr H

 

The Devil and Dartmoor

Buckfast Abbey detail

I’ve recently returned from The Past in its Place conference, held at Buckfast Abbey, Dartmoor. The conference was organised as part of an interdisciplinary research project exploring  the ‘history of memory’ in a range of English and Welsh locales from the early medieval period down to the modern era.

I heard many excellent papers at the conference, and have come away more interested than ever in the different art styles and forms of documentation and communication produced in the past. My own contribution was a short paper about the growing role of comics in communicating academic research to a wider audience, as well as their potential use within academia. (Anyone interested in this subject should think about coming along to the Applied Comics meet up in London on May 9th.)

Devil in Dartmoor

I also created a comic for the conference (more on this soon), narrating two stories connected to the great lightning storm that struck Widecombe-in-the-Moor church in 1638. One of these stories is a folktale, which sees the Devil descending on the moors in order to claim the soul a local sinner.

The Devil was no stranger to Dartmoor, if the placenames and folklore of the area are to be believed. Among his many activities, the Devil seems to have taken an interest in trying to disrupt the building of churches in the area. As part of the workshop, we walked up the hill from Buckfast Abbey, to the site of Holy Trinity Church, Buckfastleigh. According to legend, 196 steps were built leading to the church in order to place the church out of the reach of the Devil, who was prone to pulling down at night any building work completed during the day.

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The church is also the burial place of Squire Richard Cabell, whose extremely dubious reputation led to tales of him rampaging around the countryside with a pack of hellhounds after his death in 1677. The folklore associated with the squire may (or may not) have provided part of the inspiration for The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The church has a complex and troubled history – incidents of body snatchers, lightning strikes, damage from bomb blasts, fires and rumours of satanic rites (see here for a full account). Following a devastating fire in 1992, the church was reduced to a shell, open to the elements.

P1090021On the day when we visited, the Devil seemed to be far away.

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The sun shone and the graveyard was carpeted with flowers.

P1090018Watched by the jackdaws that nest in the church, we explored the ruins.

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Everywhere, plants and tiny saplings, tried to claim the building.

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P1090029On a sunny spring day, the site was beautiful.

Still, I would not wish to go there at night, or suffer the consequences of running around the squire’s tomb seven times widdershins.

Dr H

Ask an Artist: Lucinda Naylor

I was very pleased to talk to artist Lucinda Naylor about artistic influences, archaeology and her current graphic novel project about walking the Camino.
Dr H

Ask an Artist: Lucinda Naylor

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When did you decide you wanted to be an artist?

I was interested in art at very young age. I remember being three and absolutely thrilled by drawing a ferris wheel I had seen lit up the night before. Unfortunately, my mother didn’t share the excitement of how perfectly I had recreated the scene–since I drew it  on my hand, using a ball point pen. (I had noticed that the creases in my hand were similarly shaped to the ferris wheel’s ironwork–I’m still impressed with my three-year old self on that one.) Sadly, my mother didn’t see it the same way and made me wash my hand.

I tell this story to show that the desire to create art was there from a very young age, but the support was not. I was allowed to do art as a hobby, but told it couldn’t be a profession. Because of this–even though I got an MFA when I was 30 (so I could teach art)–I didn’t actually start to call myself an artist, or take myself seriously as one until I was about 32 and beautifully copied a Fra Angelico painting. I realized if I could copy a masterwork like that, I had some talent and should take it seriously.

Did any particular forms of art or media influence your development as an artist?

In no particular order I would say influences on my art have been medieval painters; neolithic and other early human art and objects; “found objects”–i.e. trash; Benin bronze sculptures; classical Greek, Roman, Assyrian, Egyptian stone sculptures, mosaics, and painting; contemporary Graffiti; Edward Gory; early 20th Century figurative American painters and printmakers; petroglyphs; comic books; vintage poster art.

Lucinda pilgrims

We first met on an archaeological did in France; had you been on an excavation/ visited many archaeological sites before this?

Before the French dig, I had visited archaeological sites but always of the tourist variety–watching from behind barriers, while someone else did the digging. I did sneak past a barrier into a dig in the Roman forum when I was 19–very naughty, and lucky we weren’t killed as we wandered unlit rooms in ancient apartment buildings with huge holes dropping though the floors.

I actually sent years of my young life wanting to be an archaeologist–after reading about Howard Carter’s dig in Egypt, when I was about eight years old. Again, my family was very discouraging to that as a profession–probably because, in midwestern America, history isn’t obvious the way it is in other parts of the world, where the human settlements have left larger, more evident, marks.

Then I had the misfortune of taking the dullest possible “Intro to Archaeology” course in college; taught by grad students who made digging seem extraordinarily tedious–not that we ever got to do any digging–we just had to learn about recording each grain of sand.

I wish I had had a good lecturer in archaeology, because I would love to have enjoyed more formal studies in the field.

Lucinda Kilmartin

As it is, I discovered I love to dig by working that French dig.  Nowadays, also I enjoy helping on a dig site by drawing or contributing as an artist.

You took part in Dr A’s excavation at Torbhlaren, Kilmartin. What was your response to the archaeology and landscape of Kilmartin?

I loved the landscape there so much. It is a very exciting area to dig in. All the standing stones, tombs, and the cup and ring carvings are fascinating and artistically inspiring.

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When not digging, I liked trying my hand at creating my own cup marks on small scraps of rock and getting a feel for how I think neolithic people had done the carving.

I was also excited to discover, in the course of digging, all sorts of pigment stones on the Torbhlaren site and realize that coloring the rocks/cup and ring carvings had probably been part of some neolithic ritual.

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I finished the dig feeling very connected to the people who had left their traces there, because through making art by using their tools, or their creations as inspiration, I was able partake in some shadow of their experience.

You’re currently working on a graphic novel about walking the Camino pilgrimage route in Spain. How has the graphic novel format helped you to communicate the experience of walking the Camino?

Camino route

The graphic novel format has been the perfect way to talk about my camino experience. While walking the camino I kept a sketchbook, where I drew pictures and jotted down notes. This was just for myself–not with the original intent of publication–though I had a number of other pilgrims encourage me to publish the sketches.

Astorga

In my graphic novel I have been able to incorporate almost all my sketches into the story.

Having my sketches gives not just renderings of things–sure you can see  what the Cathedral in Leon looks like in a sketch, but you can also see where my mind was at with the quality of my line and the care that I took–or didn’t take as I hurried to sketch while walking or took my time while resting. I tried to draw at least once a day (usually more) on camino. Sometimes the subjects of my drawings weren’t the most profoundly interesting things I saw, but what captured my attention for a moment– which works to make the graphic novel feel fresh and real.

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I use collage, and paintings based on photographs, to flesh out my drawings and add to the veracity of my book.

The Camino, for me, was a very visual and very tactile experience. It was about moving through space and time on my own two feet–and the aches, pains, and pleasures that go along with that journey.

Working on my graphic novel–the working title is Camino Real–has been a lot like re-walking the camino. I’m meeting the landscapes again, the people again; tasting the food; experiencing the hostels; etcetera–as I’m recreating the experience panel by panel, and page by page.  Luckily, reliving blister pain doesn’t feel too real, but on the whole my life has felt re-immersed in the camino–and I think that immersion is partly because the graphic novel experience is so encompassing. There are words that tell a story and there are pictures that tell a story; and those words and pictures can layer together to create something more than words alone, or pictures alone, can say.

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Thanks, Lucinda!
Do head over to Lucinda’s websiteblog or Facebook page to see more of her fantastic artwork.