Sunday, October 18, 2009

Itinerant, by Choice

Sometimes we have occasion to meet someone--whether in person or vicariously-- with whose story we are so taken, that we cannot not share it.

Such a story is that of Rima Staines, nomadic writer and artist, traveling about the English countryside with her partner Tui, in a converted 1976 Bedford Horsebox. (I am not the only blogger to discover, and want to introduce others, to Rima's traveling world of creativity. Look here. )

In keeping with my "Everything Gypsy Week" theme, I have chosen to highlight Rima as my first representative of the 'gypsy soul', as it were. She is not just a mind gypsy, but a real one.   Not everyone deliberately chooses to be itinerant, when other alternatives are possible.  Rima carries her workshop with her, weaving her words and artistry within nature, under the open sky.

Who is this artist and why am I so excited to have found her postings? She describes herself as a "Painter, Illustrator, Maker of Things & Teller of Tales, " and her Hermitage as "a Phantasmagoria of Fancy, Museum of Myth & Realm of the Ridiculous."

Rima grew up in an artistic, loving household where creativity was not only encouraged but strongly supported.  She believes that everything is a story, and "creativity has something to do with the way we look at the world around us, and a desire to express that seeing and the feelings it evokes in us." And create she does--stories and poems and paintings and little videos that introduce us to her marvelous creatures young and old, happy and melancholy, bizarre and wickedly funny.

She reminds her readers of a Rumi saying:  "Let the beauty that you love be what you do", that "There are many ways to kneel and kiss the earth"--and who best to show us this than this artistic nomad?

One of the first things that attracted me to Rima's webpage was her warm and gracious welcome. She seemed to be speaking directly to me, in her "Song of the Periphery People." Periphery people everywhere, will understand what I mean.  (Note that sages, poets and dreamers are included here as Perhiphery People, right up there along with imbeciles, lunatics and scoundrels.)

Ho and come inside
You are welcome all…

Wayfarer and Witch
Jester and Jezebel
Renegrade and Wretch
Urchin and Untouchable
Hermit and Hellhound
Rascal and Rapscallion
Freak and Fremd
Scoundrel and Slubbergullion
Outlaw and Oddity
Vagabond and Villain
Juggler and Gypsy
Mage and Mooncalf
Sage and Simpleton
Madman and Musician
Imp and Imbecile
Fire-eater and Fool
Lunatic and Loner
Mummer and Monster
Devil and Drab
Knave and Necromancer
Peddler and Poet
Beggar and Bedlamite
Tomfool and Trickster
Dreamer and Delinquent
Stranger and Seer
Dreg and Deviant
Oaf and Outcast
Crackpot and Crone
I will build you a home here…

What wonderful cast of characters! Is there anyone she has left out? ha ha

Come visit  The Hermitage and prepare to spend a while.  A long while.  You will not be disappointed.

Travel along with Rima and Tui, as they pass through vagabond villages and transient towns, traveling from town to town on their house on wheels.

It was through Rima's website that I learned about transition towns and realized that there are small groups of people actively trying to address the dilemma of decreasing resources and the problem faced when oil peaks, offering "exciting ways to look at community, and all the many things that come together to create and sustain it", including a drive to self-sufficiency in food, energy and money.

What's it like, really, to live like a gypsy today and travel about, not knowing where you'll be next week, next month, next year?  What's the reaction of people whose town you pull into, and how do you manage to create and sell your art under these circumstances?  Rima describes it in "A Tale of Two Tinkers who travel from town to town selling their wares on Britain's streets and managing to gather pennies enough for life for a while by selling their artwork directly to the people who pass them by.."  How many of us would be willing to live on 'pennies' just to create what we create where and in the way we want?

"Making a living as an artist can often be a trudge down a rocky and pot-holed street," says Rima. As to the two tinker artists:  "Some towns welcome them... and some towns do not understand them and walk by with noses skyward and tuts on their tongues or offer unimaginative taunts, official badges and clipboards...."  But cold weather, unreceptive towns and the difficulties of a life on the road do not deter them.

The Hermitage (Rima's blog) offers something for everyone.  For the more academically inclined, check out her wonderfully illustrated thesis (here) titled "Misrule, Mockery and Monstrosity in Marginal Medieval Art" where she discusses art and people that are marginal, the Outsider Figure, and the concept of 'otherness'--a wealth of interesting information and insight about which I found much to ponder.
There is a difference between engaging in the itinerant life as a project and choosing to do so as a way of life.  Not everyone, I think, could do as Rima and Tui are doing.  (What if I end up without fuel for the winter?  What do I do with all my stuff while I'm out living on the road?  A household's accumulation of 'things' to store: can one's necessary possessions be whittled down enough to fit inside a cramped and crowded box on wheels?).  Rima and Tui represent, in very real terms, two gypsy souls out there putting their principles into practice. 

I am delighted to have made their acquaintance, if only by way of an email.  For me the greatest unexpected surprise that resulted from this was the whirl of new perceptions surfacing regarding Creativity:  where it comes from, what influences or quashes it, how it thrives, where to find it. 

You can see more of Rima's art work here.  As one of her many followers and supporters comments:  "Ah Rima, what wonders you share with us!"

I concur.

Many thanks to Rima Staines for permission to share these photographs.

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