MERLIN THE IMMORTAL 1984
Hardback and Paperback Published by Spirit Of Celtia
Merlin The Immortal was birthed in Reading, Berkshire and two pages were printed each week after creating the art and layouts and I received my wages as a screen printer. When it was finally completed, the 100 copies I had printed were collated on my kitchen table and then taken to St Michael's Monastery in Farnborough, Hampshire to be hard bound. At the weekends I would pack books in my rucksack and head to London to sell at bookshops and managed to sell most of the edition.
I decided to re-print 1000 in a paperback version, it took me out of my comfort zone and most of my savings, then I packed in my job to sell the books full time. Copies of the books were stashed all over the house as my wife was convinced the weight of the stock would fall through the floor.
THE CELTIC ART OF COURTNEY DAVIS 1984
Published by Spirit Of Celtia
After printing the Merlin books I decided that I would set up a studio/gallery to sell the art and books. The Merlin book had already gained me a book commission with Element Books to design a cover and a series of b&w illustrations for Pathway Through The Labyrinth by Marion Green, so felt confident that more work would come in to support the venture.
After a few years displaying my art on the craft circuit, mainly on the East Coast of England and collected together enough artwork to create more of a catalogue of the art than a book. Its size was useful as a marketing tool to send to various publishers.
PATHWAY THROUGH THE LABYRINTH 1984
Published by Element Books
I was invited to an event by Prediction magazine and my table was beside the stall of Marian Green, my first witch. Marian was excited with my art and we discussed the Path Through The Labyrinth project.
On the launch day we did a book signing at the famous Atlantis Bookshop in Museum Street, London. After years of being a customer it was a great experience to be there as an author.
EXCALIBUR, THE ROCK AND THE KING
CELTIC ART SOURCE BOOK 1988
Published by Blandford Press
In 1986 I was living in Horham in Suffolk and in discussions with Bernard Stringer who had designed the successful Prediction Tarot deck in 1985 and Illustrated by Peter Richardson, to create a Celtic Tarot. On one occasion Bernard Stringer presented me with a project he had been working on and consisted of 6 sheets of A4 paper with mystical directions to build a magical apparatus, he called Excalibur, the Rock and the King.
This was in the early days of my Merlin connection that started in 1983 and though M had collaborated on Merlin The Immortal there was always the feeling there was a more powerful synergy to come. My drawing board was often covered in lights and the energetic pressures on my body were often intense, but there was always the sense that I was still a novice in the work we did together. I think that this was mostly my fault as I couldn’t let myself free of my thought process and just go with the flow of this otherworldly direction.
I had been preparing to begin work on The Celtic Source Book, which was my first book for a major publisher, and it meant a heavy schedule of work to get it completed on time. My studio at the time consisted of an A3 lightbox resting on a small wicker table in the living room. For some reason the idea of creating art for the Excalibur, The Rock and The King project fired me up, though there was no fixed idea how we would take it further.
My wife at the time owned a very old caravan at a North Sea coastal caravan park in Southwold on the Essex coast and I decided to go on my own for four days to work on the artwork. As with old caravans they are cold, damp and smelly, but made the best of it and prepared to start work.
As I started work on the rough outlines, I was conscious that there was something, possibly a symbol embedded in the paper and it was radiating and connecting with my heart. So began 3 days of intense work, without my lightbox or photocopier that I normally relied on to build the images in preparation for colouring. The 3 days I worked were erased from my memory, it was as if I had been placed in another dimension and returned to the caravan for brief times to eat and drink, there was no memory of sleeping, I had dreaded sleeping in the musty smelling bedroom area so it was a relief that there was no memory of sleeping there or if I had actually slept at all.
When my wife came to pick me up and take me home, we were both amazed how much work had been achieved in such a short time and the experience would put me in could stead for the Celtic Tarot that began a year later and the dramas that accompanied it.
I think the surprising thing for me was that I had gone to the caravan with no expectations of how much work I would accomplish while being so close to the sea and its lure for walking the beach and fine real ale beer. The times I expect a strong connection with M it doesn’t happen and early attempts to force any kind of contact only lead to disappointment. Over time and mostly frustratingly, I have accepted is that for my personal connection with the Mage that its down to vibration and any needy pressure is reinforcing the closure rather than releasing.
Will post on the Celtic Tarot next.
My first book with Blandford Press that went on to 24 reprints and my first solo book. It was still a time when publishers took their authors out for a meal and there was a real love of the book, now its more of a commodity to be shifted.
As a child I was always making books or creating newspapers and have been blessed to have been able to carry that love over the past 30 odd years.
I had no studio at the time so the whole book was created on a small wicker table in my living room, this Heath Robinson approach to my books would be a recurring pattern through my life.
I started the book at the beginning and end at the same time and worked my way to the middle with no overall plan in mind, oddly this worked for me and I often worked with that format on my own books.
THE CELTIC TAROT 1989
Published by Aquarian Press
I was living in Lyme Regis in Devon when I was finally persuaded by Bernard Stringer the creator of the Prediction Tarot that together we should create a Celtic Tarot pack, It was a time when creating Tarot was like an exclusive club. I explained that I knew next to nothing of the Tarot and in fact I always felt uncomfortable with playing cards in my hand.
I was assured he would work closely with me, guiding me through each of the 78 cards of the pack, it was suggested that within the designs I could create some jewellery designs we could licence on .
No sooner that the contract was signed, Bernard decided to pull out and sold his half of the contract to Justin Jewellery in Cornwall, who knew nothing of the Tarot and they started searching for someone who could help with the symbolism, time was moving on and getting close to the date I needed to hand in the art to the publisher.
I decided that I needed to start on my own, there was no Google then so picked the Tarot de Marseille, as I was impressed by the fine details and workmanship of Phillipe Camoin--last heir to the centuries-old legacy of Marseillan cardmakers--and acclaimed artist and tarotist Alejandro Jodorowsky and felt it clearly showed the individual cards I needed to do.
Although married I felt I needed to work on the pack in isolation and so rented a property overlooking St. Michael’s Mount a small tidal island in Mount's Bay, Cornwall, and is linked to the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway of granite setts, passable between mid-tide and low water.
I first had to complete a book for Dover Publications , I spent a few days creating the b&w artwork and after completing all the pages I left them laid out on the kitchen table. Next morning I came down to find the sea had flooded the cottage in the night and all the artwork was floating on the water. Thankfully they were all face up so were salvageable, my rented cottage wasn't and had to move.
I decided to move more inland and rented a small cottage miles from civilisation, in this isolation my connection with Merlin became very strong and I gave my total trust to the direction the energy gave me and set to work. Working night and day, I created at least one card a day.
When the pack was completed I took the art folder to Aquarian Press and met the Tarot reader who was to write the book and was amazed to hear her explanation why certain symbols had been added for each of the cards, unknowingly by me. Sadly the reader died before she could start working on the book.
By good fortune Tarot reader and Astrologer, Helena Patterson came into the project and completed the accompanying book. We would later collaborate on 3 other book projects.
The jewellery designs were created by St. Justin but after a short time the designs were adapted so that I lost the royalty payments.
I finally lost my control of the pack to a dark business partner so for many years lost all connection to the Celtic Tarot.
Its actually been the wonderful comments from Facebook and emails that has reopened the heart link.