clive and the mari lwyd

This is one of the images from the session with photographer Zoe Childerley here at Ty Isaf yesterday. Zoe kindly sent me a selection to choose from for the Artlog, and this is my favourite. Peter Stevenson is under the sheet of the Mari that he made specially for the occasion.

17 thoughts on “clive and the mari lwyd

  1. My first thought is that it must be quite tiring to be Peter S. – bent over at such an angle, and holding that quite heavy looking horse’s head. He must be quite tall, when standing upright.

    You look exactly as if you’re in the process of making friends with a live horse. You’re being quite still and nonthreatening and letting it sniff you.

    Which is backwards, isn’t it? In terms of who is meant to be the threat.

    • Quite right, Miss Agatha Christie, he is tall and lean too. You’re not wrong either about the weight of the skull, and yes, that’s an awkward angle to stand at while supporting such a top-heavy load. Both Peter S and I lamented the Mari’s that are too tall and skinny for our likings, and he was determined to construct this one so that it had the crooked back of the mummers’ hobby-horses of old. As such it swayed and ambled about the grass, more like Basil the Shetland when he’s sleepy than any prancing, high-mettled thoroughbred. I was happy with this. I don’t think I would have enjoyed a fast and scary Mari having at me.

      Experiencing for myself just how heavy the Mari can be… a combination of supporting pole, bone and dragging sheet… perhaps the broad-shouldered and well-muscled youths emerging from under the Mari in the Mare’s Tale series, are closer than some might have thought to the beefy farm labourers who would have been the natural choices for the central role in the celebrations. My dad recalled the Mari capering, rearing and bucking as the heavy skull swung about at speed. That would take considerable strength and stamina, coupled with agility, no doubt fuelled by copious quantities of ale!

  2. Oh, I like this–your posture, hands, and placement on the rising ground suggests that you have some mastery in this situation. (Of course, perhaps it is your splendid ruby waistcoat that gives you such confidence!)

    • I’ve got to say that I’ve lived in that waistcoat since the cold spell hit a few weeks ago. Zoe asked me to take off my grey hooded jacket as I was probably disappearing into the background, and so I was feeling a tad chilled.

      The ruby waistcoat… ha ha! Good to know that I’ve something in common with that plucky gal from Kansas who lends her name as friend to all gay men!

    • D’you know Anita, I couldn’t stop petting and comforting that horse’s head. I found myself tickling it in all the bits horses like being tickled, under the chin and behind the ears, just as if it were alive. And Peter Stevenson, very quiet beneath the sheet, moved this way and that, so that I’d adjust my stance, coax and smooth the beast. Calm it. All very odd. I found myself terribly moved by the notion of this stately apparition made out of what was once a living creature.

      • Then, you truly have come to terms with the Mari. Your childhood experiences of horses, your father’s nightmares, your sorrows for friends lost, Equus… is it any wonder you were moved? Also, I think artists have a different relationship with skeletal bits and pieces… I know others may scoff at this notion, but they have always been intriguing, precious objects to me… rather than creepy. I have many in my own collection… deer, fox, rat, mouse, and so many bird skulls. Last year, Paul presented me with an entire opossum skeleton that he found in the woods near his school.

          • I don’t know how complete it is, but we could try it. You know, you have a standing invitation… and, IMHO, a ‘possum skeleton is as good a reason as any to make the trip!!

    • True, LBT. But it was interesting to discover the fact on a springs day hunkered down out in the orchard in front of the bleached and be-ribboned bones of a once splendid animal. When I got up that morning, shaved, brushed my teeth and took my shower, I had no idea that the Mari was about to arrive at Ty Isaf, and so there was no time for anticipation or anxiety about confronting the past. And there could be no gentler soul under the sheet than Peter Stevenson, so everything felt calm and reflective.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s