Guardian Ash

The Somerset Guild of Craftsmen’s next exhibition is called “Whither The Ash” – it appears to be a very topical theme at the moment, not surprisingly, as we are still losing our beautiful trees. I can’t exhibit my sculpture of “The Last Tree” (see last post) made in response to this issue at the Guild gallery because it is soon to be transported down to Delamore House for the exhibition there in May. So I decided to make a small wall mosaic for the Guild’s exhibition.

I wanted to illustrate the last part of the Norse Myth – Ragnarok –  the destruction of the old world that led to the creation of a new world.

There was the burnt out lightening torn ash down the road that continued to inspire me throughout the ash tree project. The perfect hollow ash to protect Lif and Leifthrasir who sheltered there  to survive the destruction, bringing life into a new world.

Hollow ash

I made a coloured sketch:

sketch for Guardian Ash
sketch for Guardian Ash

I used irregular smalti, marble and stones, matt ceramic tile and gold leaf glass and worked directly to allow the mosaic to have texture. I felt that this would describe the turmoil of the apocalypse better than a flat surface.

Guardian Ash in progress
Guardian Ash in progress

I found standing up with the work on an easel was much better too, helping not only ease my back after a bout of flu, but also to work in a more spontaneous manner. I felt more like I was painting with oils than breaking and sticking!

Guardian Ash
Guardian Ash

I hope you can see Lif and Leifthrasir crouching inside the ash. I painted the grout chrome to highlight their outline, but also to suggest that they are lit up by the  flashes of light from the tumultuous skies.

Lif and Leifthrasir
Lif and Leifthrasir
View from the side of Guardian Ash

“Lif and Leifthrasir will hide themselves in Hoddmimir’s Holt. The morning dew they have for food, from them springs mankind.” (from the Eddic poem – The Lay of Vafthrudnir. 45)


    You are a tremendous inspiration, Kate. I live in a valley in which there is evidence of real, not mythical, destruction. In the early 20th C. Fernie was burned to the ground, twice, then rebuilt. Eventually, an Indian legend involving fiery revenge for a broken promise emerged from this history. Forests of giant cedars and larch (also called Tamarac) trees which covered the mountain sides were burnt in one wild fire or another. Loggers harvested much of these over the next few decades but many were left to rot from the inside out and still stand. The resemblances to your lovely old ash are strong. They, and history, are fodder for artwork, I see, thanks to you. Different trees. Different stories. Strong images. Good luck with your projects. And thank you for sharing the development of your artwork.

      Thank you for telling me about Fernie. I hope there are new trees growing beside the old trees. All the Best x

        Oh yes, there is still a standing forest of very old cedars which escaped burning, plus large swaths of mature, newer, pine and larch forests surrounding the old relics.

    This has so much energy, Kate! It’s beautiful.

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