Stumbling is almost always accidental, and accidents are almost always a surprise. It is, in my experience, the very nature of surprises to reveal more truth than many other happenings, when the mind has time to persuade you that its nature is something other altogether.
So it was, that I tripped over a stone and knocked into a door that belonged to a rambling myriad of tunnels beneath the earth. They have led me to many a joyful adventure and many a drooping tail, each journey having merits of its own, and I would not be without either.
There is a richness in silence that invites the imagination to play, and no matter how curious and unforeseen its forms, I completely love its very essence. This marvellous silent space beneath our 'everyday world' is only just beginning to reveal its vastness - countless chambers and portals to other worlds. The more vast it reveals itself to be, the more at home I feel.
So I began to paint portals on paper and wood, and decorate them with words. It is my hope that in these images, poems and snippets of stories, you might be reminded of the delights of Imagination, its gifts and its wisdom, that you might let yourself be fascinated and enchanted by the unexplained and unreasoned. It is, in my experience, the very definition of magic.
''You are the magician, the magic and the trick'
all words and pictures copyright 2008 - 2022 Cathy van Hoppe
A little bit about me and how The Old Burrow came to be...
The slightly longer version
Born in Australia but now happily right side up, I have always been content to sit quietly and see what gifts Imagination brings.
I created The Old Burrow over a decade ago - an antidote to the increasingly fast-paced society and all its pressures, a revolution of quiet in a noisy world. It was a portal that had always been open to me from childhood, and I just was not content to leave all the imagery and words or stories in my own sphere of un-manifested consciousness.
So, these pictures and words are the manifestation of my lifelong visits to (or as, depending on your perspective) that spacious place where Imagination plays.
I hope to open portals for others to experience the magical and wonderous nature of Imagination, because, far from being the land of daydreamers, it is a land of joy, wisdom and creativity. It paradoxically aids our ability to see magic in the everyday and, most importantly, the space from where Imagination springs, that vast eternal silence which we all crave but do not realise we always have within us.
In that way the art can be seen as portal or threshold art - art that belongs to that liminal space between here and there, between now and eternity, and somehow belongs to everywhere and nowhere.
For me, it speaks in the language of illustration and story because this language of our childhood speaks straight to the heart and bypasses the logical mind, which is absolutely necessary to access the Imaginal realm.
Inspired heavily by the illustrations and classic children's literature of the golden age, I hope to create a timeless portal for everyone of all ages and backgrounds. This is beginning to show in the followers on social media whose backgrounds are more diverse than I had ever hoped to reach. Equally I am inspired by iconography and religious art from many cultures, as well as natural history art.
Many years of meditation, and interest in Eastern philosophies and Theology, as well as indigenous and ancient cultures, has lead me to an appreciation of the similarities between all of them, and the underlying peace that all who find themselves seeking wish to gain. The link between creativity and spaciousness within ourselves cannot be underestimated, and I hope that by some sleight of hand I might accidentally reintroduce the viewer back to that quiet place of joy, or if not, a beautiful imagining that has value in its own right.
In short, I wish to reintroduce magic and wonder back to our hearts, our vocabulary and our senses, so that we may see what a beautiful world we live in, because when we see we are a part of the magic ourselves, we will naturally treat the world more kindly and gently.
Oh, and if you are wondering why I sign my pictures 'Catkin', it has been my nickname since childhood and it just felt right.