This is Thousandfurs. Animal woman, mammal, furred woman ~ a recent painting in oils on wood, which you can buy as a gorgeous print on recycled paper from us here.
She is wearing a hair-cloak of furred mammals, alluding to the Grimm’s fairy tale “Allerleirauh” or “Thousandfurs” in which the king’s daughter makes herself a cloak of disguise from the pelts of many animals in order to escape her father’s unwanted attention (he wants to marry her).
She is also a hairy woman – embracing the fact that we are mammals, like all the furred creatures around her: biting, snarling, scratching, stalking, roaring, sniffing, licking, listening, protecting, hunting, climbing, purring animal.
Hair can be understood as a symbol of power – of both the psyche, as it grows from the head, and of the fertile, alive animal self; just as cutting it has sometimes been seen as a way of removing strength or agency.
Combined, these ideas express something about the animal cloak we must make and put on in order to escape a rigid system of toxic patriarchy and about living in that animal skin, both metaphorically and literally: not altering or diminishing our bodies or wild selves to please the insane culture or clearcutting our bodily wild forests which contain so much of our power.
This painting is newly born into the world and as always I am unsure about how it will be received. I had it on display at our recent outing with Hedgespoken at Buddhafield festival and was delighted by how many folks were moved and touched by it. Painting it was also an interesting experience: I moved through painting all the parts of it at my usual slow pace, but when I got to the snarling wolf, I could not get it right! Every incarnation in paint that I tried didn’t work, and I almost despaired. The wolf I ended up with felt good but has a slightly different feel to the other animals. I suspect there could be a story hidden inside my own struggle there about my own snarling and how hard it is to bring it into the world.
And so, wearing my wild, snarling, furred cloak, I step into the world tentatively offering you a new painting, on a new blog, testing my claws and sniffing the air.
I hope to write more here soon, and invite you to join me on the dark and fertile path into the woods….