My background is in academic archaeology but I have always been smitten by the views of the past which are locked up in folk beliefs and lore. Together they make magical sense of the connection of people to place. We all need a little stardust on our dry histories!
In art I try to marry archaeology, folklore, history, sound, smell, music, poetry, in short all the senses, being alive.
I have just published a book (December 2017), a fictionalised history, called Flesh and Bones, about Frome and its landscape in the Dark Ages. It is being brought out by local and regional history publisher Hobnob Press. This is a fact and fiction book, synthesising in writing all the things I talked about 20 years ago in Frome and district. Look out for
Flesh and Bones of Frome Selwood and Wessex, at The Hunting Raven Bookshop in Frome and on Amazon.
The book covers Britons and Saxons, Fact and Fiction, Relics and Reliquaries, Heaven and Hell, Intrigue and Jealousy, Dumnonia and Wessex and King Athelstan. A time in the region's history which is little understood or thought of.
(Amazon customer): Lighting up the Dark Ages.
'The period in England between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Norman Conquest is often dismissed as "The Dark Ages". England may not have produced an equivalent to the Book of Kells (Ireland) or a Mosque at Cordoba (Al-Andalus, Spain), but civilised life went on. The Celtic British learned to live with the Anglo-Saxons, just as they had learned to live with the Romans. King Alfred repulsed the Danes and an increasingly assertive kingdom of Wessex welded together diverse people into a state almost recognisable as England.
This is a remarkable and beautiful book. Wessex is a magical landscape, and Burkitt has concentrated on the area she knows best, around the Somerset market town of Frome, where history is written into the landscape.
The author knows all about history and archaeology, but has chosen to bring her chosen period and place-Wessex in the 10th century CE-to life in a most original and effective way. To the bones of history-the little we know for sure-Burkitt has added flesh, a fictional story that brings vividly to mind the lived reality of those times. Hence the title-Flesh and Bones.
The story centres on the Christmas gathering of the Wessex witan or parliament convened by Alfred's grandson Athelstan at Frome in 934CE. There is drama, humour, superstition, belief, love, intrigue, as in any decent novel, but always that firm backbone of the historical events underpinning the story.
A book for anyone who loves a good yarn, and who loves our English West Country, with its surviving fragments of older Celtic British origins.'
Professor Ron Hutton of Bristol University writes:
'It (Flesh and Bones) is indeed most unusual for a historical novel in the depth of its scholarly apparatus, and written with an
exceptionally vivid, and as far as my slightly inexpert eye can tell, accurate, reconstruction of the historical background. Its relish for the west Country landscapes is also evident, and pleases me deeply as a local.'
Hi Mark, glad you're back. I have never seriously used masking fluid since I saw a demo which used it as the main technique in a flower painting. All the detailed drawing was done with it and very loose watercolour was slapped over it later. That's not for me. But it is good to reserve the white of the paper and I like to incorporate that in my less studied style. I have recently started to draw just with the candle. I can't see where I've been, but the magic occurs when the paint goes on and I just love that. Akin to drawing with the eyes shut. It may make a mess, but that's all part of the process for me and I don't mind tearing things up and starting again. Chances are the drawing will be very free (very!) and that spontaneity may get through to the final thing. I've yet to use an iron to see if the wax can be removed, though I suspect it wouldn't be too difficult.