(Photograph by Peter Wakelin)
I met him at the opening of the Art for Children exhibition where he sat unfazed, drinking a cup of vodka and eating a pickled mushroom among other equally wonderful of Meri Wells’ beasts.
Meri’s creatures emerge from the hedge in her garden, rekindling imagery from her childhood’s imagination and creating a personal and otherly folklore. She draws the beasts then fashions them from coiled, grogged clay and wood fires them in her old kiln – an exhausting process where the wood needs to be fed to the fire carefully and constantly over the course of a long day. The results repay the love and the labour. Her beasts are utterly of their own world, calm, independent and benignly anarchic “elemental beings”. Melancholy, haunted or (more recently) deeply composed they embody the more fugitive of human emotions. They are incredibly engaging as they reflect back to the observer something of fundamental Nature.
A piece given by Meri to friends to celebrate the completion of major rebuilding works following a particularly destructive fire. The beast sits guardian-like, quite at home, in the large hearth by the stove.