‘Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone’ by Jackie Morris, A Book Review

If a book could be described as ‘a work of art’, this beautifully crafted volume of meditations and poems certainly fits the bill. The author and illustrator Jackie Morris, of course, is a hugely gifted artist known for sharing her talents, in various successful and inspiring publications, with a grateful and delighted world. While this newly released work culminates in a unique book, it is one which nevertheless bestows the author’s creative gifts in simply exquisite style.

Working from her cottage on the rural Welsh coast, Morris clearly has an affinity with nature which has inspired much of her creativity. Her work, including her award winning illustrations for the modern classic book The Lost Words (1917), a collaboration with Robert Macfarlane, is certainly reflective of this.

As the title suggests, this new publication Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone (Unbound, 2022), is no exception and is very much rooted in the windswept Pembrokeshire landscape where it was initiated.

Morris created the book from a series of typed texts, often utilising her antique 1910 Smith Corona typewriter, on gold leaf squares which were then photographed in natural (not studio) light. In turn, the act of typing may be likened to the ebb and flow rhythms of the Irish Sea by the shores of her coastal home. Pages of text, also including Morris’s words in handwriting, are in addition interspersed with ‘cup and ring marking’ images – a form of megalithic art carved into stone. As the book continues, typed text appears directly on feathers, leaves and bark, thus further linking with the natural elements named in the title, framing words with the textures, colours and patterns of Mother Nature herself.

Written in a period of personal grief and amidst a global pandemic, an era that many of us can relate meaning to, the words, in short prose, are particularly intimate. They often convey the deepest thoughts and feelings that arise from the sights, smells and touch of the natural environment and a sense of our own place within it.

Designed with the help of Alison O Toole, the resulting work offers each page as both an individual yet interconnecting poetic artwork. The author has stated the book was focused on the basic premise of “creating something that makes the thoughts from one mind visible to other folk”. What Morris also describes as “the seeds of an idea” , have in turn, blossomed into a sublime collection of (often literal) reflections.

While considering the raven or the rabbit, whether pondering on loving presence, distant memory or the feel of wildness, Morris ruminates over both the fragility and strength of life itself, and in a way that may well touch the shamanic soul in all of us.

Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone is a beguiling book which takes the reader on a journey of interconnections, eco-systematic explorations and moving personal perceptions. Gorgeously produced in terms of concept, layout, illustration and writing, it is simply quite perfect.

Once again Jackie Morris has shared her exceptional talents with us and thank the goddess for that…..So please go and treat yourself and/or others and enjoy this absolute magic charm of a book.