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Portfolio #1: Cow parsley bank by Claire McGinley, Spring 2022

With the arrival of spring, it seems fitting to launch Portfolio #1 in the season Cow parsley bank was painted. A creative circularity of sorts.

Heartfelt thanks to artist Claire McGinley for collaborating on this new project. It has been a privilege to showcase her beautiful painting and talent, as well as to find out more about her creative process and thinking, as a local artist, in relation to fen landscape.

Thank you to everyone who has supported FENACULAR by submitting to Portfolio #1, sharing advice or cheering from the sidelines. Such positivity has been both inspiring and affirming.

Contributors, it has been a pleasure to work with you and your words to create a portfolio of contrasting yet complimentary short writing—poetry, flash fiction and creative non-fiction—full of humour, love, loss, imagination, observation, reflection and more, all in response to the same soft pastel painting.

Finally, it seems fitting to finish with our artist's response to Portfolio #1. Another creative circularity of sorts.

"It has been a delight to read the responses to Cow parsley bank and to have been part of this special, unexpected collaboration. I have been amazed by how this weaving together of word and image seems to have peeled open and revealed so many extra depths somehow. Each piece powerfully stands alone, and yet, when put together, it feels to me that we are taken right into the emotion of the land and our individual places in it. I really resonate with all the pieces of writing, and it is thrilling to see how this image has been able to be translated into such personal thoughts.

I can’t remember who posed the question, ‘Do we shape the land, or does the land shape us?’ I often think about this and my ancestors who worked the fen fields and depended on them closely for their survival. Certainly, this place, this cow parsley bank and the Fens, is a place I know I love but did not choose, and this remains a continual, joyful mystery for me.

Here’s an extract from notes written at the time of the painting:

It’s April again. Today, the fragrance is intoxicating but not harsh. The cow parsley reaches past my shoulders as I wade through, its dampness spraying white spot petals all around. My clothes take on a new polka dot design.

Thank you."

Images ©Claire McGinley


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