Updated: Jun 3, 2020
I start this blog in extraordinary times. We are caught somewhere between a slowly vanishing past, and a future we can't see because the rising mist is too thick to reveal it yet. Only our imaginations allow us to find our way forward to the hidden gate that will be our entry to a new paradigm. Perhaps this is the moment that Edmund encountered when he discovered the cupboard in the guestroom, that allowed him to enter the hidden world of Narnia; perhaps this is the moment when we realise that in the mist we can imagine the gate as we wish it to be, and that we have the choice to choose the world it reveals to us.
I have spent the last year writing the book Material which will be published in the Autumn by Chelsea Green, and the first of the beautiful images that Lou Tonkin has created for it is my invitation to wander into the fields of possibility. The gate I open is a gate onto a field at dusk on a summer day, the yellow barley swaying in the diminishing light, its coloured swathe as if a banner announcing the world beyond the dark of the woods I have emerged from. It speaks to me of the promise of plenty, of a story that would have me believing I am a young boy on a tractor practising to be a man who ploughs, and cuts into the great wild land of our ancestors. I turn back on myself, back from the invitation of the gate and back into the fetid, dank life of the darkening woods. This is not the gate I want right now, and I will continue my wander along the narrow lines of compacted earth till I find another.
Here at The Brake we have had a gate apparently closed on us, as have billions of people the world over. We had planned for this summer to be a summer of birth and growth, where all the hard work of the last 2 years would finally enable the fertility of the land. Our courses were due to get going, the cabins had been booking nicely, and I was beginning work on a small collection of furniture to be exhibited at the Celebration of Craftsmanship Exhibition. After the burning of my workshop over two years ago, after insurance claims, tears, the scraping away of all the burnt remains, we had rebuilt it, rebuilt the benches, painted it afresh and equipped it with new tools. Now it is destined to stand empty as is our hamlet of cabins and studios until this mist lifts to reval something new. Dolly's Creative Being Course, such a catalyst for the imagination, will pause perhaps finding some expression online if we are closed for longer than we would wish.
Yet we are so fortunate, so much more fortunate than so many, and though there is no one coming to make with us for now, we continue with our practise. We continue as if a year had been frozen, that the paintings and furniture may pile up, but they add a voice to all the other made objects that will emerge as people's creativity has some space in which to flourish.