Mill Hill County High School were in Coniston last week for a spot of canoeing, hill walking and general school holiday fun (with a few trips to the hospital). All music students, on holiday with their music teachers (with a penchant for both classical and easy listening), much to our delight, they agreed to to do a performance for the village on their last night. Held in Coniston Institute, our Youth Group made homemade ice cream and temperance drinks and served these during the interval and raised money for both Mill Hill school and our youth group.
Transforming Agriculture: Growing better communities
Monday 28th May 6pm
Dr. Derek Lynch is an expert in organic agriculture and professor at Dalhousie University in Canada. He is in Consiton to give a talk on his research into organic and sustainable agricultural systems from around the world. This talk is free and not to be missed so please come along! Refreshments will be served.
Dr. Derek Lynch is Canada Research Chair in Organic Agriculture at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. His teaching and research interests include organic and sustainable agricultural systems, environmental/ecological impact of farming system, and soil quality and fertility management.
A talk and workshop with renowned Interior Designer Michael Marriott, as part of the development of the Coniston cricket pavilion and grounds.
Friday 25th May
6 - 9pm
The event is free and a buffet dinner is included. All are welcome.
This is the second event in a series of talks focusing on contemporary, sustainable building and design for a community build project.
Holidaying at home is the new going away so here's a link to our neighbour and friend John Atkinson's holiday blog. His 2 week annual leave from his National Trust job is spent lambing on his farm.
We have now had a couple of meetings with the local cricket, tennis and bowling clubs with a plan to work with them to re-develop their buildings (in particular the cricket pavilion). Set in one of the most stunning views in Coniston at the base of a mountain, the opportunity to create a contemporary build (or series of buildings) couldn't be missed. As a community project, this will involve quite a lengthy process of discussions, talks and workshops to re-think the whole area and how it might be possible to generate income streams from these new buildings. The first talk we organised was with Irish architect Dominic Stevens. With his sensitivity to the landscape and to environmental issues, use of local materials and labour and to being cost efficient, his talk went down very well. We then had a discussion about the needs of Coniston, the community and the three clubs and decided that what we don't need is another pub (there are 6 already in the village) but what would be beneficial was if the pavilion could double as accommodation during the winter, generating income for the clubs. There was a bit of opposition to this, mainly from fear that a precedent would be set which would allow the site to become a housing estate in the future, but generally everyone was all for a multi-use contemporary build.
Currently enjoying the light airport novel by Maxine Berg: The Machinery Question and the Making of Political Economy 1815 - 1848. It includes this marvellous illustration by Burnett from 1826 to be hung in every Mechanics Institute in the land. It shows the King in the middle and spirals out through fifteen layers of revolution with the paupers in the workhouse at its tail: "the best informed and the most industrious will always, in their exertion to get forward, thrust out the more ignorant in the rear". Like an aspirational colon. Should be made into an app for for Art Facts. Nominations please for who's in the middle and who's left in a blue pastic doggy bag in a roadside hedge.
This week travels bring me to a wintery (-12C) Breugelish Hildersheim in the middle of Germany to meet up Charles Esche and his team from the Van Abbe Museum and Prof. Thomas Lange of the University to discuss 1848, the usage of art, agriculture, the Zombie of modernism, cluelessness and edutainment (that word has, worryingly no spell check alert), among other things we are plotting to crowbar into an exhibition to change the world, or at least change how we see it .
The art school here is like the Mercedes version of Lawson Park’s Vauxhall Chevette. The arts school is built around a gargantuan 13th century mega farm-cum-fortress, surrounded by the most fertile soil in Germany. It’s very notable as you travel through this country by train that, in contrast to the UK, this is a land dedicated to productivity. Trackside in England reveals and a parade of retail hanger parks, malls, industrial wastelands, leisurelands and factories converted to go-kart tracks; a country given over to consumption. In Germany everyone seems to be at work, factory chimneys have smoke coming from them, the countryside is heavily farmed, not set aside and an engineering aesthetic pervades all, even at the Choco Leibniz factory.
Back at the art school we go to the student cafeteria which serves homemade café und kuchen. In fact it trumps pretty much any restaurant the Lake District has to offer and I gaze down at my 90 degree slice of subsidised patisserie and remember less fondly the Ginsters and scalding milky tea of the Goldsmiths’ refectory. But this is interrupted by a request from an art history student who is doing her thesis, startlingly, on Grizedale Arts and has heard that I am in town. “Are you sure?” I say. Apparently this website is read avidly in Europe, so we’d better get our act together. This is subsequently confirmed by Grizedale alumni and current Hildersheim artist professor Antje Schiffers who complains that we need to maintain the joke count on the site. Although, she says, we might be doing that but just not in a way she finds funny.
Our lonely pig Octavia has found herself suddenly kicked out of her palatial home and grounds, and into a smaller field with makeshift arc, to make way for a herd of 8 new pigs. They're a very rowdy bunch and full of lice and worms (and God knows what else) and are very malnourished. The renegade 8 were found abandoned in a nearby car park last week by our neighbour farmer John,but with no ear tags, it was impossible to trace where they came from. John had no room on his farm so we decided to home them. Judging by the state of them (I've never seen protruding spines, ribs and hip bones on pigs) I guess whoever had them didn't know what was involved in keeping them or just didn't care. I think they are actually mico-pigs. Not the cute ones everyone imagines mico-pigs to be, but the things they grow into. They are smaller than most pigs but still above knee high and pretty ugly! They are 'micro-pigs' because they breed runts with runts, ie. the unhealthiest in the litter of any breed. You can see in these ones bits of Tamworth, Saddleback and maybe a bit of Berkshire or Large Black. It could be that someone stole a couple, thinking they could breed them and make a ton of money. A rare breed pig like our British Lop, bought as a weaner, costs about £60. Mico-pigs cost about £600! However, unless you have registered the pigs and have them ear tagged, you can't sell them on or take them to slaughter. You can't even legally move them without the right paper work. The animal welfare people at DEFRA have let us register these pigs with our own herd mark so we can legally move them and take them to slaughter when the time comes (if I can get them healthy enough).
In the mean time, the BBC are coming up to Lawson Park with their cameras, so who knows, maybe someone watching will identify the rogue owner!
A recent dinner in Norwich with my favourite nature guru Richard Mabey brought to my attention a utopian cricket ground that could influence our own endeavours to revision the home of cricket in our local village of Coniston: Sir Paul Getty's 'cottage ornee' cricket pavilion set in the heart of the woods of the Chilterns (that's the bit soon to be changed by high-speed rail).
We won't quite have Getty's budget but we may well have his gumption.
Last week we hosted the directors of the Plus Tate group - a network of the UK’s 18 most dynamic art organisations that includes Tate, the Hepworth Wakefield, Turner Contemporary, Ikon Gallery Birmingham, Whitworth Art Gallery, Baltic and Grizedale Arts itself.
The annual seminar organised by Tate was hosted by Grizedale Arts throughout Coniston using the Coniston Institute, St Andrews Church, Brantwood, the Waterhead Hotel, Coniston launch and our headquarters at Lawson Park farm.
On the Wednesday evening the main hall of the Coniston Institute provided the backdrop for a grand dinner of 34 people comprising the directors of the Plus Tate group and the local “villager elders” who have been consistently volunteering over the last year towards the restoration of the historic Institute.
The dispersed nature of the seminar, was used to demonstrate the concept of the Village as Institution using what might be termed the Civic Framework, people and all, as the site for the conference. This is turn works to build a collective, social resource rather than a simple venue hire or site visit – using the village like one might use a work of art.
Throughout the three days the delegates ate menus that were made entirely from local produce and artists projects including local venison, Lawson Park pork, St James’ and Ruskin Blue cheese, wild grouse, Kathrin Bohm’s sauerkraut and Lawson Park grown vegetables and so on. Particularly popular were the dessert contributions of trifle, chocolate cake and lemon meringue pie created especially for the Tate by the village.
website design & build by theusefularts.org.