I booked on this course because I was interested in developing my handmade book skills and because I wanted to treat myself to some serious new stimulation from Jen Hadfield’s approaches to poetry. Of the 15 others on the course, some leaned towards poetry and others towards book making, so there was an interesting mix.
We enjoyed a week of amazing weather in which many of us spent glorious afternoons forgaging, walking, exploring and painting, while Jen Hadfield and Rachel Hazell, the delightfully upbeat book artist, held tutorials. The centre staff looked after us like we were royalty and the cooking was of a high standard, even though people were a little nervous about it. It’s changed a bit since I last went over 15 years ago in that the menu is decided already and the ingredients laid out ready, so it was a total doddle.
The house at Lumb Bank was looking stunning. I particularly enjoyed the library and the gardens, though they had none of my books there, they did have all Matt Simpson’s Bloodaxe ones. I felt as though he had followed me there! I loved browsing through the poetry books and finding old friends hiding there.
Jen’s workshops were excellent and I learned to loosen up my book-making because of Rachel’s relaxed and experimental approaches. I have several books to finish and several poems to type up – not all from the workshops. Some poems I have been mulling over for a while came to a firm draft during the week. The guest speaker was artist Richard Long, who was the topic of much conversation the next day. However, jen Hadfield’s wonderful reading and Rachel Hazell’s slideshow on the Tuesday night were perhaps the highlights of the evenings.
There were three pianos at Lumb Bank and silly me forgot to take any music, so, perhaps fortunately for others, I wasn’t able to play in the barn in the afternoons. I did do a painting I am proud of and might even frame, of the view of the garden and the valley and hills beyond.
The theme of the week was very much realised through foraging, which was great fun. Three of us took a taxi to Hebden Bridge because there was a flea market on, and I found some beautiful Chinese Painting pamphlets in a charity shop, as well as a few finds from the market, so we all came back with some things to use in our book making. Some people did intriguing rubbings outdoors, and others dyed paper with flowers and plants, after Rachel invited us to ‘texturise’ a piece of Bockingford watercolour paper. My piece became a reversible slit (beak) book, which I am still working into.
The last night was a raucous one of sharing and performing our work, which eventually turned into singing and a right old party. Unfortunately I had no wine left. But perhaps just as well, as I packed after it ground to a halt at midnight, ready to leave the next day before all the taxis blocked the narrow lane.