There is a beautiful part of my creative process that I cherish- the part that allows me to dialogue with my parents as if they are here in my kitchen, sharing coffee and offering advice and dialoguing on the cold case. I had some magical moments the other day as I pulled out old binders of research to cut and paste onto a current drawing:
The words were originally photocopied, cut and pasted onto paper and placed in a binder by my father. I gingerly felt the paper he had once touched, being so fully in awe that his hands had used his glue stick to place the cut-outs onto the paper he chose. I was so aware of the way his hands moved. What his skin looked like. And now some years later, I am taking his process further by cutting the words out and using my white glue. To place those words onto my latest piece. I know it may sound trivial, but seriously- I am so in love with how the creative process brings the living and the dead together into a type of timeless/spaceless mid zone.
For example, the other day, I was contemplating where my interest in crime (and the human condition and its dark side) originated. As per usual, I decided to put a crime drama on in the background. To drench myself in the Swedish language, I decided to look up some Nordic Noir.
With its roots in the ground-breaking TV dramas The Killing, Borgen, Wallander and The Bridge, Nordic Noir has become a genre in its own right, influencing screenwriters far beyond the Scandinavian Peninsula. – nordicnoir.tv
I found the following six part very Agatha Christie type drama inspired by the writings of Maria Lang.
Dagmar Lange (31 March 1914, Västerås – 9 October 1991, Nora) was a Swedish author of under the pen name Maria Lang. She was one of the first detective novelists in the Swedish language, and her books helped make the genre popular in Sweden. Her first novel, Mördaren ljuger inte ensam (The Murderer is Not the Only Liar), was published in 1949 and caused some controversy because two of the main characters lived in a homosexual relationship… Lange wrote more than 40 detective novels, as well as crime fiction for young adults. Most of her books are set in the fictional Swedish town Skoga, which is based on Lange’s home town Nora. She was one of the original 13 members of the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy when it was founded in 1971. – wikipedia
OMG- how cool was she?!
And since I was in full creative process, and in that timeless spaceless mid-zone again, feeling the presence of my parents, I was reminded that Maria Lang was one of my mother’s favorite authors. There was one book in particular that she always had in her bookshelf or by her bed. And I (who keeps everything) still have that book. I found it in my personal library (that is why you should keep everything- ha!).
I looked inside and was DELIGHTED to discover that the book was a gift from my father to my mother as she lay in the maternity ward, having just given birth to my older brother on the 13th of August! A murder mystery. Was it her special request? Or a surprise?
King Lily-of-the-Valley from the grove,
King Lily-of-the-Valley is as white as snow,
now the young king mourns
over Princess Lily-of-the-Valley-Maiden.
King Lily-of-the-Valley, he lowers
his sad head so heavy and weak;
and the silver helmet shines
in the pale summer twilight.
Around the bier, a spider weaves
from the “incense place” with floral scent
an incense [that] slowly flows;
the entire forest is full of fragrance.
From the birch’s rocking crown,
from the wind’s waving green house
small songs of sorrow sound;
the entire forest is filled up with whistling.
A message is whispered through the valley
about a king’s sorrow among whispering leaves,
in the wide kingdoms of the forest,
from the capital of the Lilies-of-the-Valley.
And this lovely timeless/spaceless mid zone sends me on a wormhole of research that feeds my creativity.
Gustaf Fröding (22 August 1860 – 8 February 1911) was a Swedish poet and writer, born in Alster outside Karlstad in Värmland.
My mother gave birth in Karlstad, received a murder mystery by her favorite author, that featured her favorite flower and the poem by the poet also born in Karlstad (and where I was also born).
And here it is May, and I am drawing birds and wondering about my interest in the dark side, and being reminded that it is from my mom, and that my love of research and drawing and cutting and pasting is from my dad. And again, here it is May, and I am reminded of my mom’s favorite beloved worn book and her favorite flower and I am still drawing birds:
Lily of the Valley and the Nightingale
A sweeter story tells of the affection between Lily of the Valley and Nightingale. The Lily of the Valley loved Nightingale’s song, but was so shy she hid in the grass to listen. Nightingale was lonely and said he would no longer sing unless the Lily of the Valley revealed herself, and promised to bloom every May for all to see. And so she does. – Deborah Weber