The Mountain Hare
The ageless Mountain Hare watched as the animals and birds were born, glimmered briefly in the sunlight and then fell to earth. But her sorrow was mitigated by the ease with which their bodies returned to the soil, and their spirits flew to the worlds beyond the starlight and the hilltop. The Children of Men however were bound to neither day nor night, and though their bodies were easily claimed by peat or water, their spirits lingered and wept on the shoreline. When the magic hour fell the Mountain Hare called to them in the language of her old companion, and she led them to the hilltops and opened doors with starlight so they could pass through and be at peace.
The hare’s costume evolved in my head and in my hands as an inextricably linked blend of sightings of these creatures, the colours and textures of their montane landscape, and the legends I grew up with. I chose colours evoking the “blue hare” and the boulders, lichens and mosses of the rarified landscape. The soft pelt and shapely curves of the hare led to the idea of felting the pieces after I had knitted them. I wanted to create some surface design that would echo the hare’s legendary power to slip between worlds. At the time I was rising at 3am to check on my cattle who were imminently calving. Experiencing a diamond-sharp Hebridean winter sky in the silent dead of night is something worth losing sleep over, and the icy stars and Jupiter with its attendant moons conspired to focus my imagination on the hare on the mountain top, drenched in starlight, with innumerable parallel worlds at its disposal. This led me to think of the ways in which humans have expressed their relationship with the universe. I am fortunate to live in a place where people built monuments to the cosmos which we can still marvel at five thousand years on; the Callanish Stones cosmic clock marks the movement of heavenly bodies to this day. Ancient humans also carved abstract imagery of circles, spirals, stars and lines into rocks in remote places; these images evoke the profound mysteries of the universe and can be interpreted as a powerful visual expression of the possibility of travel from one dimension to another. Finally, I created an orb to serve as the magical stone that the Mountain Hare finds in Jade’s story. I finished the hat “tail” with a wave of blackface sheep’s wool found on the hillside. Jade digitally created a subtle fabric design from a photograph of montane lichen and then designed and made the skirt to complete the costume.