After a short recovery hiatus after the big June parties, we welcomed another brilliant volunteer group to Lawson Park. Late July saw a fair amount of garden harvesting - we find it the best time to harvest and dry herbs like mint for winter use - and we also continued to need to pick raspberries and the start of the blueberries (a massive crop across 6-8 weeks here).
Work in the Lawson Park library also continued, with Sophie and Diana accessioning a pile of new books - this means adding labels and stamps and then going into our website CMS to add the book information there. Just the job for a wet day in summer!
With our big weekend done and dusted, we've been able to make time for some nice visits to us from those afar. Here are the wondrous Assemble Architects, on an away day here in the Lakes. We showed them about the garden and made them noodles and summer pudding, the classic summer lunch.
A week later, we made this again for a lovely group from Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
We welcomed 130 visitors to our first open garden in nearly a decade - as part of our big weekend celebrating 20 years of Adam Sutherland's directorship and 10 years of life at Lawson Park. In memory of my parents Ann & Ian - both of whom endured strokes - we raised £324 on the gate to donate to the Stroke Association.
Excited to be about to open the new autumn / winter round for applications to volunteer here at LP.
There are 16 places across the months - we look forward to hearing from you.
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."
Emma was one of 2019's first volunteers, and we invited her to write about the experience:
"Grizedale holds a special place in the trajectory of my arts career. I was fortunate to be invited to begin 2019 at Grizedale Arts Lawson Park residency as a volunteer, several years after I originally volunteered back in 2013. A week of toil on the land—coppicing trees for fences, painting functional sculptures, cooking mangelwurzel soup, and fixing poly-tunnels—took me back to my roots whilst re-establishing my faith in the unbounded possibilities of contemporary art.
I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know what triggered it, or if it was just my destiny (to frame it in a ridiculous construct), but I knew from a very early age that I wanted to pursue art. I don’t come from a family of artists, or visited galleries until my early teens, but I was around 7-years old when I declared to my parents that I was going to be an artist and around 8-years old when I opened my own private art gallery under the stairs in our family home. Art has remained an unshakable force in my life, it’s been engrained in everything I’ve done, it features in all my most vivid memories, and at times has disappointed me to the point of heartbreak, but my enthusiasm for it has only ever expanded.
I was raised in an agricultural family with the freedom to run the countryside, to be inventive and creative through play. My family were creative, as a child the clothes I wore had been lovingly crafted by my Mother who had also made most of our home furnishings from scratch, my Father had packed our home with alternative technologies, heating our rooms with a system run from a coal fire which always had the latest batch of laundry drying above it. Outside, we grew vegetables, composted and recycled all our household waste. My family life was overtly different to the rest of my peers, but I never considered it to be creative until much later.
Art remained a common force in my life, and I eventually enrolled in art school, a grown-up version of the creative space I had occupied as a care-free child, just here, in the adult world, it was called ‘experimenting’and cost money. I spent my precious vodka money on expensive art materials—paint, canvas, readymade textiles, haberdashery—to produce art that was of a market-standard, ready to sell. I churned out painting after painting, but it always felt a little pointless producing rt that had no useful function once completed. It went against everything I had learnt as a child; it felt wasteful.
After graduating I entered the art world and continued to paint whilst earning my rent (and vodka) money working in the institutions who decided what artists work was worthy of public attention. I never really understood the system, exhibitions would come and go, people would worry about signage, ticket prices and what themed goods the gift shop should stock. This all felt so far away from the exhibitions I had hosted in my under-stairs gallery and I was left wondering if there was another way: then I spent week volunteering at Lawson Park with Grizedale Arts.
Lawson Park is a space where my old life and new life merge together into a heady mixture of agriculture and contemporary art. After my first visit, I was inspired to leave my institutional role and widen my exploration of art, heading out to South Asia, where I have lived and worked for the past four years. In South Asia I learnt how the art world operates outside Western institutional models, engaging with projects that have found alternative routes for creativity to flourish, including the inimitable Somiya Kala Vidya who provide design education to traditional artisans. I established projects with my peers, which put the power of art in the hands of those not usually given the freedom to explore their creative reflexes, such as Katab: Not Only Money, which recently brought the art work of female Katab (patchwork) artisans to UK audiences.
I returned to the UK in October, and after taking a few months to regroup, I knew I needed to start the next chapter of my arts adventure at Grizedale. It’s an organisation which makes absolute sense to me and reaffirms my faith that art can affect positive changes within society, whilst also having a useful and sustainable function within it. Where my next career steps will take me, only time will tell, but I remain inspired by Grizedale’s example and have the motivation to carve out an alternative trajectory for myself with others who share my passion: to make art useful and to celebrate the ordinary as well as the extraordinary."