Category Archives: Resident Artist

The High Window Resident Artist: Stella Wulf

stella

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Claire Jefferson (who writes under the pseudonym Stella Wulf) was born in Lancashire, but grew up in North Wales. She moved to France in 2000 where she and her husband bought a large derelict property at the foot of the Pyrenees. Living on site and tackling one room at a time, she is now, more than twenty years on, banging in the last nail and working on plans for a new-build project.

Despite a lifelong love of poetry, Claire came to writing late in life in an epiphanic moment whilst painting doors. It became an obsession fuelled by Jo Bell’s 52 group, culminating in a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing, from Lancaster University.

Claire is a qualified interior designer, but it is only with the luxury of time that she has been able to pursue her passion for painting, exhibiting in several galleries and selling her paintings worldwide. She also designs the cover art for 4Word Press which she co-edits with Lesley Quayle.

Stella’s poems have found homes in many journals and anthologies and she has a pamphlet, After Eden, which is available from http://www.4word.org and A Spell in the Woods, which has just been published by Fair Acre Press  and is available here.
You can see more of her art work on her website http://www.stellawulf.com

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‘My recent foray into drawing has had some surprising consequences and opened up a new vista of opportunity. In the summer issue of The High Window, I featured several poems and drawings from my pamphlet, A Spell In The Woods, my debut into the world of illustration. As a consequence of this collection, I’ve had the pleasure of working with poet Graham Mort, emeritus professor of Creative Writing at Lancaster University, on a feature for Little Toller’s, online magazine, The Clearing. Graham and I have since worked together to produce Samara, a collection of his poems alongside my illustrations. Here are some of Graham’s words on Samara:

‘[…] All the poems invoke elements of what we think of as the ‘natural’ world. Yet wild creatures and humans have learned to recognise and accommodate each other – and that word ‘other’ always stands between them. […] If the poems are ‘readings’ of that other world that we inhabit and influence, then Claire Jefferson’s illustrations form a simultaneous act of reading which engages both with the language and form of the poems and the memory and tactile immediacy of her own experience.’

I’m delighted to be able to share some of these drawings and poems with you here, alongside some of my own.’ [SW]

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samara             A-Spell-In-The-Woods-Front-LowRes-261x400

Samara is published by 4Word Press: https://www.4word.org

A Spell In The Woods is published by Fair Acre Press:
https://fairacrepress.co.uk/shop/a-spell-in-the-woods-stella-wulf/

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jackdaws

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JACKDAWS

They flock above the stone spike of the church, hunch
at the emerald tips of pines in monkish caps;
their feathers clog the air like silt.

Through weeks of sleet, days scattered them to here;
they’ll build in our chimney next. Their dry coughs drop
to kitchens, sicken us with hurt or guilt.

Some raise a brood and leave, some fall to hearths – a
blaze of soot. Balaclava’d lags, stoical through smoke,
odds-on scavengers, they stick it out.

All through the night you’ll hear them roost, each family
squabbling, unhappily unique, shifting their
heavy theorems from throat to throat.

All winter we forgot how they survived when thinnest on the
land; now they exact reckoning. The kind let slip,
that dereliction breeds the more.

We never thought they’d wait, squat the republic of our
roof, biding there like facts, their kind of
patience stark as poverty or war.

It teaches an attenuated hope, the way they future
on the darkest days, the earth’s rotation sussed
through long-additions of the light.

Now we’ll face what’s left undone or sent the way of hell:
these grumbling sweats are juries of an ancient state
cut from the fabric of the night.

Poem by Graham Mort, from Samara, 4Word Press

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moon

MOON ILLUSION

Our biggest moon all winter
ripens over Kingsdale, one day away
from fullness, left-side licked
the way a horse laps snow.

A roan mare whinnies for her
mate; I passed a horse and rider in
the dusk, remember now she
raised her whip to greet me.

Moon floats towards a snow-
dappled ridge; this moment
is cochineal, sunset blazing
at a cleft in basalt cloud.

Moss on the paddock fence is
this amazing green; my heart
pads out towards night’s deepest
shades; the licked moon’s

illusion; the mare’s inexplicable
loss; the way all sense of scale
is changed this close to dying
where everything is huge.

Poem by Graham Mort, from Samara, 4Word Press

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limousins

LIMOUSINS

There are the red cattle, woken
from a cave painting, daubed
with red clay into an old religion
waking with rooks to stand
in the pearl-soaked grass.

The red cattle lower their heads
in the sun, walking into their own
shadows, their hooves churning
soft clay in the skim-milk blue
of this September morning.

They watch us, the upright ones
our round faces, our stick bodies
walking through yellow sow thistle
and caked slurry in wet boots
made from their pelts, stepping

inside them, supple gods killing
the time they tread so slowly
and with such certainty. The cows
groan under the great red bull –
daughters and dams of red clay –

their hides flinch under flies, their
genes mapped on a spreadsheet in
the farmhouse with meat and milk
yields, their thoughts slipping to
extinction, evaporating into

the long pasture of the future. They
watch us, the red cattle, walking into
our own shadows, our thoughts flying
ahead of us, our feet slipping in the
wet clay that furnishes us. Amen

Poem by Graham Mort, from Samara, 4Word Press

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spell woods

A SPELL IN THE WOODS

Wych elm, elder, aspen, oak,
badger’s hideout, hedgepig’s poke.

Dogwood, hawthorn, cherry, birch,
woodpeckers larder, roe deer’s church.

Blackthorn, alder, rowan, ash,
blackbird’s nest egg, squirrel’s stash.

Holly, hornbeam, hazel, yew,
hedgerows, meadows, bird’s-eye view.

Chain saw, bulldozer, open sores,
Tesco, Pound World, British Home Stores.

Poem by Stella Wulf, from A Spell In The Woods, Fair Acre Press

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wolf stella

WALES SINGS

an anthem of scarred valleys, hill’s uprisings,
a rock of boats on pitch-and-billow seas,
of moon washed moors and drowsy towns,
broody castles settling on old scores,
opening forgotten doors with the turn of a key.

Hunkered houses smoke to fox’s nocturne,
blink in the somnolence of owl’s lullaby.
Night burrows deep as moles into earth’s seams,
until morning unpicks them with a silver blade,
releasing its song into the dazzling day.

And always a ruckus of rooks hacking
over chimney pots, haggling for all things bright.
And beautiful, these gospels of shafted light,
exalting the plainsong of slate, glancing
through windows clear as chapel bells,
and Myfanwy, rising from the piano,
to wring the hearts of men.

Poem by Stella Wulf, from A Spell In The Woods, Fair Acre Press

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mole stella

MAKING MOUNTAINS

We’m roly-poly piccolo dandies
plushy n palpy as pups
roamin the loam, push’n up sods
with us root’n scoot’n handies.

Worms is us lushess guzzle
prodigious gorgers we’m is
snoutin us squirmy larders
fer us own weight of ums.

We’m traps um in tunnels
tongues um slack wi toxy spit
mashes grit from ums gut in a winkin
gobbles ums glutinous tubicles.

We’m a labour of mouldywarps
minin us own business
shovellin out us galleries
pickin’n lickin, graftin’n tilthin
churnin us hills to orogenies.

Poem by Stella Wulf, from A Spell In The Woods, Fair Acre Press

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