reviews

Putting such personal work out into the public arena always feels like a risk. I really appreciate hearing how people make their own connection with the images.

Review of the 2010 calendar:
(reviews of previous years follow)

published in ‘Refresh’, A Journal of Contemplative Spirituality, published by Spiritual Growth Ministries, Summer 2009-2010
Ribbonwood Calendar: 12 images, 4 poems, a prayer resource and a perfect gift
reviewer: Maureen Lamb

We are all unique, spiritual beings and find different resources nourishing and helpful. For Trish Harris, creativity and spirituality are bedfellows and it is out of this intimate relationship that the Ribbonwood calendars were conceived, reverently held and safely delivered.

I first came across Trish’s contemplative ‘art’ several years ago and was immediately attracted by its simplicity and profundity. I have used them both for personal prayer as well as sharing them on retreats and offering them as possible reflections to friends and in spiritual direction.

Art in its many forms holds an enormous appeal and enriches my own journey profoundly. Symbol and metaphor are doorways into the sacred. As such they have the ability to engage us at depth, if we are willing to sit with them and allow them to speak to our souls.

The images that illustrate the Ribbonwood calendars evolved out of Trish’s willingness to share, some years ago now, something of her own exploration of the Feminine Faces of God. She had always enjoyed creating things and playing with colour and form and yet the invitation to trust a blank page and let it express her heart was something new and scary. As a writer, her mind and words were precious treasures, so at first it was hard not to ‘think’ as she drew. Slowly she began to listen and notice what colour attracted her and to trust that whatever shape evolved, like a dream, it held a gift, however hidden. Sometimes a word or words encapsulated the image, sometimes the image alone was sufficient – words seemed superfluous.

Trish tentatively decided to share some of these images in the form of a small upright calendar. The idea was to give them away as gifts to friends. However, the feedback was such that the following year she decided to take the risk and cast her net wider. She is most excited when the images enable others to connect deeply with their own spiritual journey and possibly be part of a healing process as in spiritual direction.

Trish hopes to complete her Spiritual Director’s training this year and offers the 2010 Ribbonwood Calendar as food for the journey. As a prayer ‘com – panion’ (one who shares bread) I gladly receive the gift of this bread and will seek to share it with other hungry pilgrims.

published in ‘A fine line’, newsletter of the New Zealand Poetry Society,   November 2009
reviewer: Karen Peterson Butterworth

There are three kinds of art in this small but tall desk calendar; abstract art, a pleasing coloured typeface, and poetry, and they are connected in a unified whole.

The calendar’s dimensions are ideal for a crowded computer work station, and would look equally good on a dressing table. A blue-and-white stream with dashes of purple widens diagonally across the purple front page. I did and didn’t want to turn the page. I could happily live with the cover image, set under its spare, white lettering: ‘Ribbonwood CALENDAR 2010′.

Inside, beneath each month’s dates, is a coloured image with a short caption conveying the artist’s intention; e.g. ‘beginnings’ under January’s image, and ‘where is your source?’ beneath the cover stream, repeated under June. I would be equally happy with wordless images, but I’m aware that many viewers of abstract art prefer guidance towards interpretation. Here it is sparely given, and there  remains broad scope for the viewer’s imagination.

The lightly drawn images feature patterns of swirls, curls and petal-shapes. There is an impression of circularity – a centrifugal pulling-together from which there are unfoldings and spin-offs.

Four poems inter-leaved between the months develop these themes, employing more specific images. ‘In and Out’ has stanzas alternately headed, ‘On the out breath,’ and ‘On the in breath.’ There are birds, branches, houses and curtains among its images. It concludes: “dreams/ rise/ soaked in darkness/ and a dalliance of stars.”

An untitled poem is a riddle that relates to the captions on preceding and following pages. ‘Flow’ is a shape poem which connects human existence with the river and other images. The final poem, also a shape poem, progresses from the universe to an eyelid blink.

This object of art would make a suitable gift for anyone except someone with severe visual problems. It has light colours and fine (though not small) print. This is the price paid for its overall delicacy – perhaps the single flaw designed to placate the jealous gods. For those with merely elderly vision, its artistic and spiritual depth make it worthwhile finding a strong enough light under which to view it.

published in Tui-Motu Interislands, 2006
Something to catch the eye
reviewer: Mary Betz

Trish Harris’s calendars have perched on my desk for the past two years, opening to a different journal drawing each month, a few poems or reflections scattered throughout. This year’s calendar has beautiful fresh new drawings – in alternatively bright and soothing colours – whose images variously puzzle, delight, rest and challenge the onlooker. Trish’s elegantly simple spirals, waves, fronds and other shapes of nature in complex communion beckon us into mystery and contemplation.

The little calendars fit easily into a DL envelope, which makes them easy to send to friends within NZ or overseas, and their spiral-bound hardboard covers allow them to stand freely on a desk or be hung on the wall. See her website for a preview of this year’s calendar, as well as greeting cards from past year’s images.

Many the time my eyes strays from the computer while searching for a word or phrase, I am caught and held by one of Trish’s images, invited for a moment to pause from work of the mind and partake of some food for the soul.

published in the New Zealand Association of Counsellors Magazine, 2006

Ribbonwood Calendar 2006
reviewer Cathy Egan (Life Coach)

I asked my sister if she would like a expensive Christmas present and she said, “Oh no, the thing I’d really like is another one of those calendars you gave me last year. That calendar was beautiful. All sorts of people come into my house for spiritual direction and love the Ribbonwood Calendar. It isn’t over “Christian”, isn’t over “religious” but is simple and beautiful. Everyone who comes in notices it, reads what it says and loves it – so please make sure you give me another one of those.”

And then another friend said to me “Oh I must get you to get me another one of those calendars. Ribbonwood Calendar is refreshingly different – the whole approach.”

Trish Harris – here is a person who is an artist, who can do simple lines and for the 2006 calendar even gives us some poems.  It’s not just a calendar that gives you dates, it gives you a lot to think about – the simplicity of the words, the simplicity and beauty of the drawings and the poems: What does the moon say, In and Out, Try it for size and Compassion and the Cat.

It’s a calendar that is restful, spiritual, has a different approach and a practicality. You can stand it up on your desk or book shelf or phone table. It’s small enough to carry around with you and it’s a lovely thing to have in your office.