Thursday 26 January 2012

Urchfont Manor - episode 2

You might have sat on one very special bench outside Urchfont Manor at tea or coffee breaks or for our 'goodbye' group photo last year as above. That special bench is in memory of Tom Barklem, a past Vice Principal and lecturer of ancient history who led many of his adult students around Greece and Italy on educational expeditions. Tom wrote the small book 'The History of Urchfont Manor' which is a fascinating story about the building and the alterations made over the centuries as different generations 'modernised'.

Tom has three sons and as well as a lovely garden bench, they now wish to buy Urchfont Manor itself and retain it in its current function to provide residential adult education. This seems to be the fairy godmother act that everyone was hoping for but never really thought would materialise. As you might imagine, this does not automatically 'save' Urchfont as Wiltshire Council need convincing that there is a demand 'out there' from adult students in order to persuade them to accept this bid and not to seek a much higher one, which they might get on the 'free market'.

Wiltshire Council have been censured for their lack of public consultation before last weeks vote so another is being taken on the 30th January. Can you help them in their 'consultation' and email the chair, Jane Scott and let her know how vital and enriching Urchfont has been in your life and wish it to continue providing adult education. So many of you come to Wiltshire from other parts of the UK and other countries of the world. Let her know what a gem Urchfont is in the world of adult education' and most importanly of all, please give your backing to the Barklem bid to buy Urchfont Manor.

Please email Jane Scott before the 30th - 

Many thanks to you all.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Sad news of Urchfont Manor

I have very sad news about Urchfont Manor College. Wiltshire Council has decided it must close to save money. So unless some rescue plan or fairy godmother comes forward, it will close its doors in September 2012. I am sorry that the devoted staff will lose the jobs they all do so well.

I can't say how sad this makes me to lose such a wonderful venue as I have been teaching at Urchfont since 1982 as a young embroidery tutor alongside Val Campbell Harding. I have become fond of the heroic staff who give their services so cheerfully. My husband has worked out that I have spent a whole year of nights slept there in total!

Events such as the Distant Stitch Summer School will go ahead as usual this year and Mandy has said that they will make sure it is one to remember. So this will be your last chance to meet up at Urchfont - so sign on now before it is full. Even though the venue for the 2013 is yet not known, two tutors have been booked already so be assured it will take place and we will establish a new Summer School 'home. It will be difficult to find somewhere as good as Urchfont, but I will try my best.

Urchfont is the City and Guilds Examinations Centre for Distant Stitch. This will be re-located to another similar Centre in due course so all business with City and Guilds will continue as normal as far as students are concerned.

Similarly with the Masterclass weekends I tutor, a new home will be found for us to meet up for our weekends together.

To remind you of those lovely days at Urchfont, take a look through the Summer School pics on the Distant Stitch website and wonder back through the years to see Urchfont Manor and fellow students and their work. 

Walking around the gardens at Urchfont on a recent frosty day.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Looking into the nest

'The Empty Nest', shown in my previous posting, will be part of the 62 Group exhibition, 'Interventions', at Platt Hall from tomorrow until 19th May. Check out the opening times on thier website

I wonder why I was attracted to this recent find in a nearby hedge, a small nest? It has been lovingly constructed in the shape of a heart by a goldfinch someone said.

A communal drawing day at a local church hall allowed me precious time away from the computer (much as I love you) to do some drawings of this nest. A warm-up exercise asked us all to do an 'unseen' drawing with our eyes closed of our faces by recording only from touch with our left hands. A very interesting exercise!

Here are a few of the most interesting ones of my little nest, done perhaps as a way of 'looking into' something.
Chalk on black paper, using the edge of the square pastelstick.

Charcoal and soft pencil.

Black pastel stick, charcoal and soft pencil.

Monoprinted base layer with added black pastel chalk and pencil.

Second print with added drawn lines of black and grey pastel sticks.