Art and Book Store


A small art and book store has been set up by Imogen Crest in Talbot, a village in Central Victoria. Here at Bancroft Manor, we are delighted that Imogen has taken up residence and that she is making her stock available.

The Bushmother art bags which the Crest Hermitage Art and Book Store stocks are perfect for residents who are planning to pack up their supplies and head out for some art-making. The bag rolls up in luggage and they are a great companion on art walks or book/coffee creative dates. The bag is large enough to hold art finds and your favourite book of the moment. Each bag is 100% cotton canvas and is fully hand washable (or cold machine washable), and easiest to iron while damp. Tumble drying not recommended, due to shrinkage. Designed to fade, it will have that great look of a long-time favourite accessory.

Do take the time to check out the stock here. There is, quite literally, something for everyone and some perfect items to have ready for the gift giving season.

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.

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.

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.