A Portal to Another World

Come away, oh human child! To the waters and the wild (W.B. Yeats) … Experience a realm of mystical beings who are a part of the magic and beauty of nature. Dare to enter the wondrous Real of Faerie. There are many mysterious and fascinating paths to follow in this enchanting realm.

Patrons who inhabited the Soul Food Cafe between 2003 and 2010 and contributed to major features on the site, will testify to the superpower of the Enchantress (aka Heather Blakey).  Le Enchanteur, as she became known, lured travellers through a portal, into the Cave of the Enchantress and on into the magical fantasy world of Lemuria. As they travelled in this new world those who came honed their internet skills and helped to build a place that went on to exist in the minds of many.

Self Portraiture! “Le Enchanteur Entering Lemuria’ Heather Blakey 2004

Sadly the portal closed for many years but now Heather Blakey has taken on a  new identity. As Georgina McClure she has established Bancroft Manor, a virtual manor house which welcomes creative people to come, take up residence and share their creativity with others.

Are you a creative person who has had a yen to have the dream ‘room of your own’ where you can work? Have you searched for places that really nurture your creativity, where you can shamelessly share what you are doing and genuinely collaborate with other creative people? You can join and help build this quirky, creative, cyber collective. You will be astonished by the ‘extra steak knives’ an inexpensive subscription entitles you to.

Fantasy Destinations

Edward Hopper, Western Motel (1957). Yale University Art Gallery. © 2019 Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper/ARS.

You could spend the night in this painting, courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts or perhaps you could be lucky enough to be selected to stay with Mona Lisa at the Louvre.

I’ve just made myself a cup of bush tea. And yes, my fellow tea lovers. You may also drink bush tea. Find it under the name Rooibos or Red Tea in any good tea shop.

Personally, I am heading off to Gaborone in Botswana to stay with Mme Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s No 1 Ladies Detective. Apart from spending time sitting drinking tea with her at her home in Zebra Drive, I am hoping to assist her and Grace Makutsi at the Detective Agency and head out with Precious in her little white van to the orphan farm.

Of course, you can contemplate and decide where you will go. You could visit a gallery, view some work of artists, let your fingers do the walking and write yourself into the place that you are drawn to.

Or you could design and set up your own space here at Bancroft Manor!

Postscript:

To my great joy Alexander McCall Smith has written ninteen books in the classic No 1 Ladies Detective series and many of them are available on audio. As I listen to them I make many cups of bush tea, sit eating generous slices of fruit cake, travel to Botswana and enter the lives of people whom I would feel honoured to know.

An Indigenous Bookmaking Collective

The Woolloongabba Exemplars commune was on the western shore of Lake Weyba amidst the now rural residential area of Doonan. In 1894, about 200 people, led by a deeply religious land surveyor, George Chale Watson, (Heather Blakey’s Great Grandfather) established this socialist utopia where everything would be owned collectively, and each would work for their common good.

Taller Leñateros is Mexico’s first and only Tzotzil Maya book- and papermaking collective. Founded in 1975 by the Mexican-American poet Ambar Past, the workshop is dedicated to documenting and disseminating the endangered Tzotzil language, culture, and oral history. Read Jessica Vincents piece about this wonderful collective at Atlas Obscura.

“I hadn’t been walking long before I spotted an unusual sign outside a sad-looking, graffitied colonial house: a black-and-white etching of an ancient Maya riding a bicycle, wearing an enormous feathered headdress that fluttered in the wind behind him. Next, to it, a handwritten note pleaded “Save our workshop!”
Jessica Vincent

When I consider that my Great Grandfather established one of the earliest Australian collectives at Lake Weyba in Queensland I am not so surprised that, over the years, I have been drawn to create collectives. Unlike my Great Grandfather, I have been happy to build castles in the air and to create places, such as the Soul Food Cafe and Bancroft Manor,  in cyberspace.

Articles about other collectives, such as the bookmaking collective in San Cristobel de las Casa fuel my imagination and help me visualize what I can see Bancroft Manor becoming. When I began to build Soul Food I approached artists so that they could help me fill the walls with imagery like that which can still be found on the site. As I wander back through the corridors of Soul Food I am in awe of the number of artists and writers who responded and gave so generously.

Within Jessica Vincent’s article about the bookmaking collective are evocative descriptions of her first impression of this collective. For example, she explains how “intrigued, I pushed open the unlocked wooden gate and stepped inside. The walls of the courtyard, though peeling and rotten with damp, popped with floor-to-ceiling splashes of orange, green, and yellow block prints”.

As I write imagery flashes before me. It is as if I can hear my Great Grandfather’s voice encouraging me to succeed where he faltered.  I dream of visiting places like this collective in Mexico and I can see what Bancroft is becoming, especially as artists and writers find their way here.

Entering the Bancroft Estate

There are many awesome and spectacular fantasy worlds that have been created, depicted through books, movies and games. The truly amazing, surreal paintings by Jacek Yerka capture my imagination.

It was Virginia Wolfe whose idea of a room of her own captured the imagination of thousands. Bancroft Manor lies within a fantasy world somewhere in cyberspace. It is a place where those who take up residence can have the dream room, apartment, outbuilding, or treehouse of their own.
Heather Blakey

When Katharina Rapp made the journey and approached the Bancroft Estate these were the gates that greeted her. It didn’t take her long. She now has settled into Studio Rapp.

Celebrating Collaborative Creativity

The Rookery was the final Advent Calendar that was published by Heather Blakey when she operated the Soul Food Cafe. It celebrated the collaborative work of artists and writers who had inhabited the site and worked collaboratively between 2002 – 2010. Previous Advent Calendars also celebrated the work of patrons who willingly inhabited this cyber sanctuary. Here at Bancroft Manor residents will also be given the opportunity to have their work featured and preserved. Copyright remains with each artist and writer.

A Piper Called Them

In another time and another place the piper called and travellers came. Can you, like Alice be tempted to follow the rabbit and see where it takes you?

Soul Food Bumper Catalogue of Creativity

Come away, oh human child! To the waters and the wild (W.B. Yeats) … Experience a realm of mystical beings who are a part of the magic and beauty of nature. Dare to enter the wondrous Real of Faerie. There are many mysterious and fascinating paths to follow in this enchanting realm. Choose to the left and dare to enter a wondrous realm full of magic and beauty…
by Edwina Peterson Cross

When the piper called them artists and writers conjured many versions of the portal that led to the Cave of the Enchantress and Lemuria. What would you pack for the journey? How would you find your way into the fantasy world of Bancroft Manor?

Through the Enchanted Doorway
A journey of the Heart

My journey began long before I knew I was looking for something. One night I received an email asking me if I was ready to…

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Autoethnography – My Life As a Writer

Autoethnography is a form of qualitative research in which an author uses self-reflection and writing to explore anecdotal and personal experience and connect this autobiographical story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings.

Evocative Autoethnography

Begin by thinking about your life as a writer and then consider refining these questions to flesh out other aspects of your life.

Write the story of your life as a writer. Write creatively, focusing on as many concrete events as you can. Give your story a beginning, middle and an ending. Make your story interesting by some of what has happened in dialogue and scenes rather than telling about it in ‘this happened, then this’ fashion.

Include memories of childhood and adolescent writing experience. Do you remember being taught how to write? What principles were you taught? By whom? Where did you write? Do you recall any products of your early writing experiences? What made you like or dislike writing?

When you write now, how do you feel? What emotions circulate through your body? Do you feel as if you are a subjectively or emotionally different person when you are writing? Characterize these differences?

Is writing a rational, emotional or spiritual experience for you? Explain or specify. Do you feel compelled to write or do you avoid writing as much as possible? Describe the best and worst writing experiences of your life. What made each memorable?

How do you write? Where do you write these days? Is writing integrated into your daily routines? Do you write every day or only when you must? What are your work habits as a writer? How do you get started? From what sources do you draw inspiration to write? How many drafts do you typically write? Do you write with the door open or closed? In restaurants, bars, or coffee shops? What is your ideal writing environment? How do you organize your space for writing? With whom do you share what you write?

What are your revising or rewriting habits or patterns? How do you evaluate your own work? Do you have someone to rely on as an editor, critic or writing buddy?

How do you know when you have finished writing a particular piece?   Do you act “professional” as a writer? What does “acting professional as a writer” mean to you?  What forms of writing are you engaged in, e.g, poetry, journalism, short stories, memoir? Which do you enjoy most? Why?

What are your hopes and aspirations as a writer? What are your fears and apprehensions? What kind of future do you envision as a writer? What would you like to accomplish? What will you need to do to achieve this goal?

What obstacles are in the way of your writing? To what extent do you get distracted by social media, e-mail, text messaging and phone calls? How can these distractions be overcome? Do your family members and/or friends understand the importance of writing to you? Are you able to keep them from disturbing you while you are working?