Discover What Feeds Them

Mickalene Thomas, Din, une très belle négresse (2012). Jiménez-Colón Collection, Ponce, PR. © Mickalene Thomas / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

In honour of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the Baltimore Museum of Art has announced that it is planning a year’s worth of exhibitions dedicated to female-identifying artists throughout 2020. In addition to the previously announced Joan Mitchell retrospective, there will be a show of video art by Candice Breitz, an exhibition of beaded Native American works by 19th-century Lakota women that appropriate patriotic imagery, and a major commission by Katharina Grosse.“The goal for this effort is to rebalance the scales and to acknowledge the ways in which women’s contributions still do not receive the scholarly examination, dialogue, and public acclaim that they deserve,” said Baltimore Museum director Christopher Bedford in a statement. The “initiative serves to recognize the voices, narratives, and creative innovations of a range of extraordinarily talented women artists.”

Are you suffering from creative block? Struggling to make a difficult life decision? Find out what Picasso, Pollock, Kahlo and other great artists would have done. Simply select an artist’s card from the pack, select the oracles’ advice on life, work, or inspiration and any obstacle becomes surmountable.

As a part of the Lived Experience Narrative course that I have been running, participants chose a card from this collection and were tasked with undertaking research to gain insight into what helps feed individual artists  creativity. Their homework was to prepare a five hundred word piece to present to the group.  The result was very insightful.

You don’t need a deck of cards to undertake this process. Indeed, I have suggested, now that our course has concluded, that people randomly select an artist a week and take the time to learn more about their creative life and how they sustain the momentum to create. Perhaps you will choose from one of these 10 Famous Female Artists.

Consider the very good reasons to come and claim a space at Bancroft Manor. Maybe you will spend time in your room at Bancroft to undertake a project like this.

A Poe Woman’s Reflection

Have you considered endless possibilities for repositioning yourself on the crazy planet we call Planet Earth? A reason to come to Bancroft Manor is to spend some time positioning yourself in the present moment. Of course, there are many more reasons to find creative space here.

MY ENDURING BONES

Inspired  by The Bancroft Prompt: Will You Visit The House of Usher?

Photo by Immortal shots on Pexels.com

Be a new kind of Demon, be a unique Werewolf, have you thought about the endless

possibilities that joining  the ranks of Vampires, Zombies and Witches hold?

Have you even wondered if you have the talent for casting curses,  the stomach for cannibalism or the upper body strength required for grave robbing?

I wonder about it all of the time

because I never sleep.

Lucky for me,  that doesn’t stop me from dreaming.

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The Creative Habit

Renowned choreographer, Twyla Tharp endorses the importance of establishing creative habits. Bancroft Manor is a virtual workspace for artists and writers alike. It offers a safe haven where creativity flourishes. An extension of the Soul Food Cafe Bancroft Manor provides a base for creative people seeking a rich assortment of reminders, routines, visual activities and writing prompts.

The Manor provides a space for people to ritually come to, a place where they can make it their daily practice to work on artistic projects.

A Story Teller in Residence at Bancroft

The purpose of the Soul Food Cafe is to promote writing as a daily practice. The site is quite literally overflowing with healthy and tasty morsels for every writer. It’s full of tips, techniques, references and encouragement for writers of all kinds. Visit it often for inspiration for “listening to your muse”

What’s changed for me over the years as I have begun to haunt Bancroft is this, I am older ( of course because I came to the Café over ten years ago ) I feel like a writer AND a storyteller and now instead of wearing labels that were slapped on my back as I raced through life I’ve kept one because I am fond of it. You can meet Anita Marie at The Crossroads

Anita Marie Moscoso stumbled upon the Soul Food Cafe back in 2004 when she was searching online for a restaurant to have some lunch.

“Instead of an address and menu and dining hours for your standard restaurant fare she found writing prompts and ideas for creating poems and challenges tied to advent calendars which contained even more ideas for stories or crafts and even recipes for pastries”.

At this point, she realised that she had happened upon an Australian site that claimed to be dishing up food for the soul. What is more, she found that without a doubt, the Soul Food Café was food for the storyteller in her. She realised that she had actually been starving and that the food this site offered nourished her.

More than ten years after the Soul Food had shut its doors, Anita Marie was still visiting the site, digging away, using prompts that lay within features such as the Chocolate Box, the Alluvial Mine and the Advent Calendars. Little wonder that when she learned that Heather Blakey was opening Bancroft Manor, “like any restless spirit with time on their hands” she “happily moved in and found a new place to haunt”.

Anita Marie is addicted to telling stories. It is her life-blood! It’s a label that she credits her Grandpa Bert as having slapped on her back so many years ago. And just between you and me, I am in no doubt that it is her muse who feeds her inner imp.

Make sure to visit Anita Marie at the Crossroads.

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? Would you like to extend your readership and  attract some feedback? Would you like to have access to creative prompts? 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.

For example, members of Bancroft Manor are entitled to have a portfolio on this site. Founding resident, Anita Marie Moscoso is one passionate storyteller who will testify just how beneficial working in this kind of environment has been.

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.