Thursday 29 May 2014

Developing Personal Myths at Ty Newydd and the painter Norval Morrisseau

This is the painting Water Spirit by the celebrated indigenous Canadian painter Norval Morrisseau. On my course at Ty Newydd this 14-19th July, my co-tutor Armand Ruffo, an Ojibway Nation Canadian poet, will give a slide talk about him. I've long loved this painting of water as feral force.

Ty Newydd is a hideaway writing centre that has sloping gardens with vistas onto the sea, sky and Black Mountains. I'm scared of the sea. Last week I taught a course at Chateau Ventenac in the Languedoc, and on our day off we went walking along the deserted Narbonne Plage. It was a windy day and the normally calm Med looked more like the Atlantic. It was just like this monster!

For our course, Developing Personal Myths

we'll draw on a rich store of traditional Canadian and Amazonian indigenous myths, to write poems or prose pieces that transform the raw material of our lives into personal mythology. I've researched Amazonian myths for a few decades now, after I twice travelled in the Venezuelan Amazon in the early 90's. 

I'm reading The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman at the moment and it is very enlightening to read how Davi Kopenawa perceives his environment and the spiritual powers of all living beings in the forest, as well as his impressions on visiting Paris and New York.
Here are more Morrisseau paintings, can't wait to hear Armand's slide talk!

 Merman, Ruler of Water

 Fox and Fish

Sacred Caribou with Spirit Man