Guestroom present their proposals for the Lawson Park and Coniston libraries - live. This really is them presenting their plans and ideas so may not be very radio orientated, more of a fly on the wall broadcast.
Sad to say this weeks broadcast has been cancelled, could say it was due to heavy snow, but sadly rather more mundane reasons keep us from you - the train is late.
I recently received this image of the Migratory Dairy School, the only known photo, a Ruskin inspired idea executed by the reliable Cannon Rawnsley to huge success. The school took eduction to the people, in this case teaching farmers how to farm diary cows and produce butter. The school, centred on a caravan and tent, set up for 10 day periods in small villages in Cumbria and helped many farmers out of economic straights during the 1890 recession, anyone for butter.
Farmyard radio is delighted to be welcoming Peter Hodgson talking about his life and works. Peter is a leather worker and artist based in Ambleside, his work has been the cornerstone of the Honesty stall and is currently represented at the myvillages village kiosk at the GSK season at the Royal Academy
The GSK Contemporary Season opens at the Royal Academy on Thursday, you can see the slightly unwilling Grizedale contribution on the ground floor for free - the rest you have to pay for - it makes sense as it seems we and the artists have done it for free. There are some Rowlandson images that better illustrate our feelings but they are a little to explicit to post. This one is actually of the Royal Academy main staircase.
Jen Lui's commission for Agrifashionista is now online at www.agrifashionista.tv This is the second in a trilogy, the sequel to The Brethren of the
Stone: Comfortably Numb, made in 2006. This body of work came out of Jen's residency at Grizedale when we took her to Furness Abbey in Barrow-in-Furness (Cistercian founders of Lawson Park), Millom, Haverigg stone circle and Egremont. From this she developed a whole body of work concocted around a band of hooded, stone worshiping monks who were heavily into prog rock.
West Cumbria down to a tee I'd say and maybe this goes part way to explaing why Alan Kane's daughter, on receiving a job offer as a nuclear physicist at BAE in Barrow, quickly arranged a transfer down south.
In not entirely unrelated way the protagonist of the this second chapter is introduced to the big city after a youth in the idyllic country, and must face various instances of
social and aesthetic alienation. He does not cope with it well, and
in the end, we see that his only way means of dealing with it is
violence. However, is his violence directed outwards, or inwards?
Jen Lui: "I worked with composer Ray Sweeten and Judith Hallet on a piece to
reflect this rift between the protagonist and the modern world. The
protagonist's voice is expressed though Pink Floyd's "Brain Damage"
translated into Latin, and re-written as medieval plainchant. The
modern world takes Black Sabbath's Iron Man translated into an
Italian late-era Romantic opera for female voice.
I also worked with composer Matthew Welch and the Depauw Tiger Pep
Band to create a marching band version of Black Sabbath's Iron Man,
that closely adheres to the original song in composition."
It's meadow cutting time again, well a bit late actually. The artist group Reactor are bringing their Geodesic dome living utopians - the Geodesians - to develop a series of systems for the processing and use of bracken at all its stages of its development. Hopefully this will provide the thatch for the Lawson Park porch, we discovered that the farm buildings had been thatched with bracken back in the 18th century. Anyone feeling the urge to work hard there are lots of opportunities get in touch re accommodation and food - the Geodisians have a special diet but we will be providing a more standard and hearty fare.
The NGS in Cumbria has more recently included a number of unusual and atypical gardens, among them Sprint Mill, near Kendal, a beautiful and productive garden surrounding an old mill. Mrs XXX would find there a very much smaller vegetable garden and an even more informal layout and relaxed maintenance regime than that at Lawson Park. However, like Lawson Park, it widens the palette of the Scheme by introducing more varied approaches to gardening than present in the many ‘classic’ Lake District gardens we know so well. These approaches include diversity in planting, design and maintenance which will not be shared by all garden lovers.
It is to the NGS' credit that such different gardens can be included under their umbrella.
We welcomed well over 200 guests on the NGS day and have not received any other written, email, telephone or in person negative comments.
All parts of the LP garden – like any this season – were adversely affected by the extraordinarily high rainfall this summer. Previously stable areas became hazardous with wet, and we did our best to signpost these. It would have been a shame to have closed off entire areas of the garden (or worse, cancelled the day), given that able-bodied people could navigate most of the site with care, so we decided to go ahead with the routes as planned.
The entrance to the meadow was staffed and visitors were warned there verbally that areas were damp and slippy. However, the NGS listings did state that the garden was not wheelchair accessible. Next year’s listing includes a more explicit warning to the less able-bodied about the terrain to be expected.
Footpath / access
Grizedale Arts’ environmental policy, as well as limited parking on site, discouraged visitor car use on the NGS Day.
The footpath from the car park at Machell’s Coppice is maintained by the Forestry Commission, not GA. We have passed on comments regarding its condition and on inspection it transpired that it had been vandalised. The FC are now improving it. We have also revised the timing on the NGS entry as we realise that this is misleading. The alternative vehicle track offered much steadier walking terrain and perhaps we should have encouraged its use in preference.
The minibus was provided as a courtesy to visitors who needed it rather than as a provision for all. As it was impossible to anticipate visitor numbers, we estimated that one minibus would suffice, and there were periods in the day when it was indeed empty.
Artist’s residency base:
Building work has been severely delayed due to unforeseen structural problems, hence the extent of progress on the NGS day was difficult to anticipate at the time of going to press. However, the house was not advertised as open to the public. The Lawson Park website (address included in the publicity) contains clear information on the progress of the Lawson Park building. Many visitors were interested in the building work in progress and commented favourably on being able to visit at this time.
The garden is consciously designed to be naturalistic and so includes less familiar plants and many allowed to grow unchecked and to set seed. Borders are nontheless kept largely weedfree and in excellent health.
The main vegetable and fruit area is some 80m long by 20-30m wide which cannot honestly be described as “very small”, even for a rural area!
The ‘Paddy fields’ (several acres) were not opened to the public on NGS day due to the ground conditions (but were marked on the map) and included a range of crops – the potatoes on sale on the day were from there. The piggery is also there.
Keeping livestock on site had been suspended during building works.
The bees are regularly inspected and have suffered wet-weather starvation, which caused one hive of the four to gradually die out. It was finally checked and removed shortly after the NGS day, and there is no disease present anywhere in the apiary, hence the hive posed no risk.
The bees are maintained with assistance from Furness Beekeepers, a very reputable association.
Was not open to the public, marked ‘Private’, so was not part of the NGS Day.
Contains a trial of 3 tomato varieties (underplanted with herb seedlings) and 3 varieties of cucumber.
See general comments on weather above. The NGS date is late for meadow blossom, however, varieties in bloom on the NGS day included field scabious, sanguisorba, purple loosestrife, bramble, meadowsweet, angelica, vetch, speedwell and much knapweed alongside unusual and common grasses. More familiar meadow plants such as ox-eye daisies and cornflowers are generally not found in upland meadows in the area.
The meadow has recently been assessed and commended by a number of environmental agencies (including Cumbria Wildlife Trust) for its diversity and wildlife value, counting over 200 plant species. It is being looked at to use as a ‘seed bank’ meadow to sow others.
Here's a letter from someone that didn't seem to like the garden at the NGS day. All the things we like and think are good they felt the exact opposite about. It seems like a very urban view of what gardens should be like - full of flowers and hard edged borders. Wild flower meadows that are 'features' rather than real meadows. Anyone that has visited the Lawson Park garden will know it is quite naturalistic and not very flowery or colourful, funny how even this sort of very mild subversion can elicit such fury. I guess it seemed threatening to these visitors, still its years since I got such an angry letter.
Nice to know we can still annoy.
Just tidying my desktop and came across this image of Brantwood, home of John Ruskin. Looking a bit dog eared but probably much as Ruskin left it, he may have been the voice of architecture but his own improvements to the building look a bit 'extensions and conservatories from B&Q'. He declared a total lack of interest in his own surroundings, a very sensible approach if you ask me, a house is just a place to live not life itself - with the ongoing housing crash this may become a more common position. I remember the last crash and the blessed relief from house price discussion it brought to the country.
We’ve been in a few discussions with the village about reshaping the Coniston Institute to bring it back into use, or at least increase its use and redefine its function. Ann Hall, the Conservative Councillor, brought us in after she came to an impasse with the conservatives (small c) in the village over the published plans to modernise the institute. Many want to retain the etched memories and faded grandeur, which you can see the appeal of, as it’s pretty much a fantasist’s version of 20’s rural function rooms: dusty library; voluminous, staged hall; English Rose kitchen and billiard room. The council want to improve the current library offer of opening half a day on Wednesday, by working with the village so that they will run it themselves and open it more often, on their terms. Which is all very interesting. Anyway the plan is to work with Guestroom to make it a sizeable project that links with the library and kitchen at Lawson Park – a new concept for what a library might be and all that. Ramping up the old and the new at the same time, I would think.
One thing’s certain though, no one wanted the otter in the library, so we came away with it. For now, at least, until they realise this is the original Ruskin Giant Otter of 1898 with a tattoo of Venice on the back of its left buttock.
Last weekend, whilst the open garden at Lawson Park roared with the appreciative nodding of the gathering gentiles, I descended into the pit of heathen depravity that was Creamfields dance music festival. Grizedale were there to collaborate with John Moores University’s SITE projects department to experiment with an almost-live internet TV station for Creamfields.
From the sanctity of a makeshift edit suite in a portakabin in the production compound, pairs of camera crews wheeled away into the 40,000 morass of heavy beats, fake tan and neon bra tops. The scene in production subsequently took on the feel of a WWII RAF camp, with crews coming and going with tales of the front line and rest, tea and fags on the summer grass between.
The project was an attempt to equate the gentle world of art making with the extreme experience spectacle of mass popular culture. A meeting that ordinarily ends up with art getting its head stamped on. With Grizedale contributions to the big screen, you can see it’s hard for art to come close to making an impact in its usual mindset. Marcus Coates was due to perform the ultimate conclusion to his shaman act on the big stage, to the baying sea of e-ed up scallywags and wannawags. Cream got cold feet, not really because it was too weird, but more for his own safety. But it could’ve been pretty good. Carnage, but pretty good.
It’s this taking on of the mess of the bigger world that we need and aim to do. At this stage I’d give the project a 5 out of 10, but I’d go back for a 8.5 next year and by 2012 looking to meet the LOCOG and DCMS targets for straight golds in mass participation and synchronised vomiting.
Yesterday saw Team Grizedale (& Team Guthrie, Pope-Olden, Watson, Quinn, Falconer et al) welcome several hundred visitors to the first Open Garden at our HQ Lawson Park.
Exact figures and photos to come - but a huge thankyou to all involved.