For the last week of this five week cycle of storytelling and art from around the world, we travelled to Russia to hear about the enigmatic Baba Yaga. She is a many-faceted figure, variously seen as a Moon, Death, Winter, Earth Goddess, totemic matriarchal ancestress, female initiator, or archetypal image.
After discussing some of Baba Yaga’s traits: iron teeth, lives in a house that walks around on chicken legs, sails through the sky in a mortar yielding a pestle, the children listened to one of the many tales involving Baba Yaga: Vasilisa the Brave. It exhibits Baba Yaga’s ambiguous nature – scary, yet wise, and the choices of a girl who triumphs through courage and perseverance.
Below is a selection of the wonderful illustrations of Baba Yaga by children on the course. I’m always amazed at the detail, personality and energy of these drawings that the children do without hesitating as they listen to the stories.
Vasilisa’s magic doll by Lily.
For Week 3 of the Children’s Art and Writing course, the children listened to three stories from the Dreamtime creation myths of Aboriginal culture: How the kangeroo got her pouch, Barramundi, (how the fish came to be in the waters), and a Kunwinjku Dreamtime Story of the long-necked turtle and the echidna, telling why they live in separate places. The children learnt about animals from Australia they had never heard of such as the wombat and the spiny anteater (echidna). They painted and drew their own images from the stories after looking at examples of aboriginal art for inspiration.
The children learned how every hill, water hole and tree, living creature and natural phenomenon was believed to have come into existence in the Dreamtime. They learned how everything about aboriginal society is inextricably woven with, and connected to, land.
In Esme’s story, the great god Byamee, who had been in disguise as a wombat, goes into a bar to celebrate his discovery of the creature with the kindest heart. The sky spirits speak to each other in secret symbols.
Continuing to experiment on the backs of carpet tiles that were left in our studio, this painting emerged. I’ve called it World Tree. I used a combination of house paint for the texture, oils and ink.
Lea Sautin, who is also a member of Cardiff Print Workshop, has an upcoming exhibition at Theatre Mwldan in Aberteifi, Ceredigion. Lea’s work explores the themes of language, translation and perpetual transformation within the storytelling tradition of Wales. She is fascinated by the evolution of the ancient tales of the Mabinogion, from their fluid oral and performative origins to a fixed written manuscript, eventually leading to illustrations of the tales told in their own unique visual language. Lea uses a chain of processes (print to sculpture to photography) to reflect the evolution and alteration of the stories themselves.
I’m looking forward to seeing Lea’s exhibition, which opens 29th April until 18th June.
Lea Sautin’s sculptures