Thursday May 18th to Tuesday May 23rd
Always an adventure, the Wennington Archive Weekend is several weeks in the preparation, and a week or two in the decompression. With a 24 hour conference built into the pivot point of Saturday to Sunday afternoon, it was even more lively than usual.
There was so much going on that we took surprisingly few pictures of the working element of the Weekend itself, and have had to rely on one or two others for some of the photographs below (thanks particularly to Sam Doncaster). It was very busy.
The week begins: Richard Pemble fixes the Donald Garrod clock.
Okay, here are some stats:
Volunteer Debra Lyons, Richard Pemble, and assistant Archivist Jen Galloway gather together
to make discoveries and solve problems.
Discovery or problem?: Richard with himself.
But it is not all problem-solving, self-discovery, scanning and repairing
The beating heart of any Wennington Archive Weekend: The kitchen:
Vicky and Arlene changing the world a smile, a meal, and a cake at a time
Andy Brighton and archivist Craig Fees (honouring late Wenningtonian Tom James
with the inevitable Wennington Archive Weekend shorts), at serious play.
With project roots in the 2013 Wennington Archive Weekend, Len and Will of the Early Pestalozzi Children Project
bring Wenningtonians up to date, and grow the project further with feedback and insights.
Preparing for a transatlantic - indeed, a transcontinental! - linkage.
Tomorrow: The Common Roots 2017 conference.
Therapeutic community pioneers and depth educators Dennie Briggs and Rod Odgers
join us inspirationally from the San Francisco Bay area.
During the 2017 Wennington Archive Weekend, artist Jonathan Adamson developed the art installation he had begun in 2013, with the planting of the Kaki Tree, by erecting a new sculpture. The kaki tree came from Japan, from a parent which survived the atomic bomb blast over Nagasaki in 1945, and is part of a worldwide project for peace which brings together artists, children and communities. For more on the Kaki Tree project, see here.
At the end of the Weekend, assistant archivist Jen Galloway interviewed Jonathan about the background to the new sculpture, about its conceptualisation and fabrication, about the responses people had had to it so far, and about his own second thoughts.
Jen Galloway interviewing Jonathan Adamson
Background to the tree and to the worldwide Kaki Tree Project
Jonathan early in the installation, Thursday May 23, 2017.
The ideas in the sculpture
The components of the sculpture, and how the elements of the installation work and mean
Responses to and interpretations of the sculpture
A first after-thought: the modesty of the piece....
A second after-thought: the embodiment of absence
One of the joys around Barns House at the moment is the creative take-over by Bobbin & Twine workshops, and the transformations of our spaces into colourful dens and work/play places for creative children and adults.
"We love making things by hand ...So we love to teach these skills in a practical and hands on way, while working alongside people we care about and respect to build a bespoke world, for us and our families."
And we love the colour and design that re-shape Barns Centre on workshop days. We love the scents, and baked chocolate chip cookies (other kinds of biscuits available!), and the colours of different squashes in cold glass pitchers. We love the sounds of children flying kites they've just made. We love the ice creams in hand. We love the manual skill and visual imagery on show.
The tutors are experienced and skilled mums from the local community; the liveliness and enthusiasm are infectious.
"We love to host groups for collective learning, or projects. These can be at our peaceful and stimulating venue with residential accommodation [talking about Barns House and grounds!], or at a venue of your choice. They are usually practical based, learning new skills to deliver a collective end result. It is possible to run a group event for an hour or 2 days depending on what you would like to achieve.
So if it's a WI group who would like to learn more about felting, a hen who would like a weekend party with a difference, or a significant birthday for someone who deserves a craft retreat please don't hesitate to get in touch to find out more about what we have to offer."
Or if you are a member of the PETT community...what could be better?
Spot the kites!
Bobbin & Twine Website, Facebook Page, and Instagram.
(The bracelet and kite-flying pictures are from the Bobbin & Twine Facebook page. The rest are by PETT)
A warm greeting to all our friends and supporters in what has long been celebrated as a season of peace and good will. May there be much of these for each of you this year, along with love and play.
These qualities and experiences will be all the more needed at this time when in the world at large there are so many strains and strong movements towards getting away and keeping [or increasing] distances, when not seeking outright confrontation and conflict on the ground or from on high – more often “a hard rain fallin’” than the “heavenly hosts” of carols fame - filling the sky with songs and salutations.
At the same time there is Hope – as across the globe, sometimes in small but important ways, groups practice and offer an alternative to such fracturing and strident posturing. And on that small scale for balancing we at PETT have worked with many of you and others, our extended and valued community of friends and supporters, to grow and keep ever closer in touch, in tune, broadening and deepening our sense and living reality of interconnectedness. This year that connectedness reached a new peak in July at our Gathering to both mark our 50th year of active existence, and anticipate how we shall continue into and through the next half century. Touching for us was the physical and engaged presence of all those who could join us in Toddington; uplifting too were the communications from many more, of their presence with us in spirit and mind on the day, as at other times. Such a Holding in Mind on-site and from afar we all know is not to be regarded lightly or appreciated only casually. The state of being together not just in a group, but as a group, is a truly powerful thing that transcends time and physical distances. Little wonder such a state of togetherness is a fundamental foundation of planned environments and their potential for living therapy in such human and humane environments
Hence, the regular communications from and via us to you all over the year through the Archive - whether Newsletters [complete with photos], letters and messages from PETT Fellows, Patrons and Supporters or other contacts that offer updates and new information, or that ask questions posed to us by people and groups interested and/or experienced in planned environments or Therapeutic Communities. And these are not just quanta/packets of data; they are all the actual and symbolic expressions of our ever growing network of interest, care and concern for all those, past, present and future, in need of being and belonging. In some respects PETT offers a refuge and repository for these “Lite Ages”, perhaps a bit like early medieval monasteries, which kept the light safely burning in the Dark Ages when much of human knowledge and compassion risked being lost forever. I don’t want to stretch the analogy too far, but it came to my mind in July again, when David Millard declared how much he valued PETT as a “Safe Deposit or Storage” for so much of value from the TC tradition, and experiences that could easily be lost.
So, Light there is in an era when dark clouds of ignorance, suspicion - hate, even - don’t just loom on the horizon, but are advancing from several directions. We at PETT, as many of you, don’t just remain stalwart in promoting planned environments, preserving their legacies and contributions and supporting/encouraging groups committed to offering the potential life changing experiences a planned environment approach embodies. We know we too must grow, and that means changing in important ways - or there will be no future for us. Therefore, we were delighted this autumn to yet again be awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, this time a Transitional Grant to assist us in our task of making ourselves a Trust fit to meet the challenges that will take us forward to 2066 (and all that!). On our website you can see the details of the Project for which we have received funding, a not small part of which involves volunteer engagement in various areas, including creating a Heritage Garden on our grounds. This Grant, on top of others we have received, encourages us greatly to see and feel that we are recognised and can well have a future that will equal or surpass our first 50 years of service.
As always, along with the hope and growth that change brings, there is Loss as well. We have lost several supporters along the way this year through death or serious illness. One whom I trust you will understand that I single out is our PETT Trustee and former Executive Director, John Cross. Last year, having had many years of excellent health [“so far as I know”, he was wont to observe], John suffered a series of strokes. Despite being stabilised physically, he has lost his hitherto sharp mental capacity. And we have now lost him from our Trustee group, although we are comforted to know that he is being well looked after at home by those who have long loved him dearly. And he remains in our hearts and minds as we continue on with much of what we know John would approve.
So some lights might be going out across the globe but not all of them. Some are fiercely burning still, PETT amongst them, with your support. And from within this light we wish you, our friends and supporters, and all those living and working with and as groups, health and happiness over this Christmas season and throughout 2017. And to paraphrase the philosopher/polymath Wilhelm Leibniz, “If we get closer and stay together wisely, we shall not go far wrong”.
Richard and the Trustees and team at PETT
All photographs are from the grounds of PETT: Daffodils planted by our friends from the Caldecott Association bloom behind the Kaki Tree, a sapling from a Japanese persimmon tree that survived the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945; daffodils and blooms.
Members of the team, with flowers, to the kaki tree.
Trustees Rosemary Lilley and John Moorhouse,Trust Secretary Maureen Ward and Executive Director Richard Rollinson in eleven o'clock silence.
Places of memory, solace, reflection and resolution.