Language is our reality. Discover words that conjure the wild.

Introduction to a new series of blog posts

I’ve always loved words. Particularly descriptive ones but also regional language and sayings. They often come to mind when I am creating imagery for Feather & Hay – it seemed a perfect time to share some favourites!

“Language creates reality. Words have power. Speak always to create joy”.

Deepak Chopra

Growing up rurally

My Dad was a farmer and it amused me when he’d meet another local farmer because his language would completely change. We lived in a tiny rural hamlet surrounded by a farming community. My parents pushed my three sisters and myself to ‘educate’ ourselves, to speak ‘properly’ and not use local dialect. I lived in a parallel world of what was considered ‘educated’ language and local language. I heard words that described seasonal & farming rhythms but didn’t use them. It meant they were forgotten.

Teaching about colour

Later as a teacher, one of my favourite lessons was a blend of learning about colour mixing and using adjectives. The children would experiment mixing paint: how to make green more ‘foresty’ or yellow more ‘sunflowery’. Then they had to find new labels for them as if they were working for a paint company such as Farrow & Ball! The power of a Fervent Forest Green and a Silky Dove Cot Grey: so much more exciting that just grey on it’s own. The new labels conjured more than a colour; they took the mind to a place.

The power of words and how they shape us

It led to a fascination with language, how words shape people and culture. The power it has to connect us with the world and particularly, to wild landscapes. Many words are lost to the majority, sadly losing place in our conversations and newly printed dictionaries. Writers such as Robert Macfarlane, whom I will often refer to, have worked to reanimate our wonder in and respect for the natural world with books such as Lost Words and Landmarks.

I think it is important to hold onto language that describes the natural world. Words that have historical, environmental and human meaning. The Feather & Hay textiles are inspired by Scotland’s landscapes, wild details and folk connections. Their names are inspired by or linked to rural language because they will conjure links and understanding between people and landscape. It is important to keep these words alive.  

I hope you’ll enjoy this series of my favourite words. I will share words found in books, shared from friends and family or heard on my local travels. Each one will be illustrated with visual story telling using local surroundings (i.e. Scotland!).

First words will be ‘Soodle’ & ‘Beillieag’ – coming soon!

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  1. […] Read the introduction to the Wild Word Series […]

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