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.