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.

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.