Pale Moon Rising

In his poem, “To the Moon” Percy Bysshe Shelley asks the question:

Art thou pale for weariness?

Of climbing heaven and gazing on the Earth

Wandering companionless.”

Gerard Manley Hopkins poem “Moonrise” offers a distinctly different yet challenging view of his relationship with the Moon. Whilst living close by the Welsh mountain of Maenefo it offered a background for the “white and the walk in the morning”.

The Moon dwindled and thinned to the fringe of a finger nail held to the candle.”


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John C Fogerty, of “Credence Clearwater Revival” wrote the song “Bad Moon Rising” which offers another diverse point of view. Here is not a cosy, calmness understanding of the female Moon but a detrimental and violent, a foretaste of impending doom and disaster. The first verse sets the scene, it confronts the senses and leads us to review our thoughts and our relationship with the Moon.

I see a bad Moon a-rising

I see trouble on the way

I see earthquakes and lightnin’

I see bad times today.”

Three such opposing and diverging views yet they illustrate the importance of the relationship, the conversation and communication between man and our celestial neighbour, the Moon. The regular passing of the Moon as it wanders across the skies has been constant for millennia. It’s various, and rare bright lunar occultation’s, of solar and lunar eclipses provides some of nature’s most spectacular sights. It has guided man and affected his human condition, and has influenced thinking and consolidated many aspects through this regular occurring spectacle. It combines both the spiritual, mystic and the magical as well as the physical and tangible worlds. Whenever and wherever we witness its consistent nightly arrival in the night sky it creates wonder and memories. It renews our past, it enhances the present and looks to portent an unknown future in a way that no other phenomenon replicates. The Moon is a porthole to a time, a place and a person remembered. Change is constant, in shape when it completes a cycle of lunar phases from one new moon to the next in a period of approximately twenty-nine days, and celestial position. It asks fundamental questions of our beliefs and our very being. For millennia it has exerted its influence over man as it has continued on its nightly wanderings in the starry night sky.

What does the Moon’s arrival herald?

What are the omens it might foresee?

What does it foretell?

Does it express joy and tribulation, fortune or impending warnings, of feasts or famines, good weather or beckoning wind and storms, of pestilence and pandemic? Many are the superstitions, stories and legends associated with the Moon and its femininity. All peoples throughout the world have recorded and passed on to the next generation through the spoken story, the written word, music and dance, in their art and artefacts the importance and significance of the celestial Moon. Having lived, worked and walked in the High Pennines for many years the full facets of the Moon cycle could be observed. It gave me succour and comfort to observe its regularity and was often a constant fellow companion. The passing of time is keenly noted in its waxing and waning shapes, from the spherical sphere to the scimitar and made all the more relevant by clouds passing across its pale surface. The atmosphere through which we observe creates a differing palette of colour, from pale, soft white to blues, and on through pinks to blood reds. Constantly changing shape and colour, meandering across the skies its ultimate destination, like man, is in the future but we can thrill and enjoy the experiences now, in our present time and look back at historical events which it must have observed from its lofty position.

For me there is great satisfaction in observing the full Moon as it rises from the beneath the skyline to sit resplendent atop the horizon. Soon to ascend and climb ever higher into the sky to continue its meandering heavenly journey and to look down on our Earthly home. To be seen in the darkest night with a backdrop of the myriad stars in the Milky Way whilst in the cool of the Namibian desert or floating high above the Himalayan peaks are memories which will travel with me on my life’s journey.

A context and narration have been identified, they have been explored, researched, documented and marks have been made on paper. Both the written word and the drawing and painting of lines, shapes and forms, of palettes of colour and hue help to consolidate my concepts and which will eventually proceed into a “narrative”. This aspect of tapestry design, my process, is ongoing and over time will produce a number of images and from these one will be selected. The chosen design will not be taken to the loom and copied but will be a stepping stone. I will now take another step forward and create the final colour cartoon and seek to compile and combine the vocabulary of colour, shape and forms in the completed textile. Whilst the main design shapes and the primary colour palette have been established, I often enhance these with additions of bold contrasting or harmonious tones as the weaving proceeds.

The Moon’s nightly singularly lonely promenade across the sky is evocative of the passing of time. The curved line expresses movement and hence time. A swirling, flowing sinuous line fills and embraces the whole scene, where sky clouds meet the land and merge into a whole. The landscape of the North with its seemingly endless horizons and skylines offer startling and amazing vistas and perspectives. These wavelike undulations are expressive of erosion, through geological time and the effects of nature and the elements. The movement and motion of water rounds and smooths strata and rocks, it creates the meandering of rivulets, streams and water courses. I endeavour to encompass all this within my images, from the distant to the near, the wave-like rolling rhythms of hills and dales to the smooth ovoid forms of water eroded pebbles. These elements express the unending passage of time it voices the past, the present and projects into future time.

The design embraces the opening of the landscape of curtains to reveal the advent and arrival of the Moon. The sweeping draperies capturing the colours, highlighting the light and receding into the dark night tones. The reveal has been seized and the earth’s landscape comes into focus. The rounded pebbles and stones, the wave like terrains contain the colour and hues of the Earth throughout the four seasons. This juxtaposition of time in a single element. From the pale Moon and through winter which flow into the early greens of spring before the strong, vibrancy of summer appears. Only to transition into the decay of autumn to return to the winter to complete an annual cycle. Vibrancy and harmony of colour, the challenge is always to blend a colour with its neighbour.

I aim to assist the viewer to a greater understanding and relationship with my work. Hence the written prose which accompanies all my woven tapestries. Being aware that an onlooker may well being seeing my textiles for the first time I consider that a pathway to greater consideration is required.

Michael Crompton 2020

Woven over the winter period 2019 – 2020