A Volunteer writes.....

Posted 2019/02/23 15:27

Artist Estelle Woolley volunteered in February 2019 and sent us the following diary about how it was for her:

"I wasn't quite sure what to expect during my week at Lawson Park with Grizedale; I wasn't sure if I'd even like it. You can read information on the website but you never really get the true sense of a place until you experience it through your own eyes.

Adam Sutherland, director of Grizedale Arts, has a posh country gentleman persona that goes down well when he tries to fit in with the locals. His partner Karen has a friendly Scottish accent (but don't be fooled by this, she will have you pushing several wheelbarrows of soil up a hill before you've had chance to catch your breath!) Together they are a witty, eccentric double act, who seem to be able to turn their hands to anything. They have transformed the land and really created a nurturing environment for artistic activity.

The hostel part of the building where I stayed with three other artists wasn't really what you would expect from hearing the word hostel. I walked into a huge double room with an en suite bathroom, view of the mountains, lake, and Anchorhold sculpture. There was a bongo drum in the corner, a customised dressing gown hanging on the door, and a signed Andy Goldsworthy book by the bed, and in that moment, I felt at home.

The dining area had taxidermied birds flying over the table incorporated into a trendy spider chandelier, and a cabinet of curiosities. The lounge had Laure Provoust's Wantee tea pots displayed on the wall (from her Turner Prize winning video created at Grizedale Arts), and I also spotted a Marcus Coates photograph of him sitting in a tree, 'being animal', pretending to be a bird of prey.

One of our tasks as volunteers that week was to help Adam clear out the pottery sheds, and I kept spotting Bedwyr Williams' pieces. It was because of Bedwyr that I applied, as he'd previously mentored me as part of his digital commission 'Hypercaust' at Storyhouse in Chester, 2017, and he's been a long standing associate at Grizedale for many years. It was exciting to keep discovering things he'd made and see the legacy he had left behind.

Grizedale gave me a renewed sense of curiosity for different ways of making and ways of being in the world. It gave me a renewed appreciation for objects and their functionality. It gave me headspace and a welcome distraction away from the stresses of home life. Having a routine of starting work at the same time each day, having regular breaks, good food, good company and getting out in the fresh air and getting jobs done felt so beneficial and satisfying. The tasks, some of which were quite physical yet repetitive, allowed for lots of conversations to develop with the other artists I was working with. From collecting branches to weave a fence, digging and wheelbarrowing in the gardens, cleaning out sheds, to less physical work like making pottery and cooking, there was a whole range of things to keep us all busy, and often it was tailored to our interests and capabilities.

The pottery workshop on the last day felt like a nice reward for the more physically demanding work at the beginning of the week. It was so therapeutic working next to a log fire, with a view of the mountains, and pressing clay into handmade wooden moulds. It was a new learning experience for me as I've always admired pottery, so it was great to pick up a few skills.

Overall I had a very enriching week and would recommend it to anyone."

Posted by Karen Guthrie on 2019/02/23 15:27