Tuesday, 7 May 2019
Meeting Dame Joan Bakewell
My three month residency with The Hosking Houses Trust is sadly nearing a close. During my time here in the beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon countryside, I have completed the first draft of Sew on the Go, started a collection of poetry inspired by my stay, and created a range of hand-crafted artefacts based on a 1930’s floral tree made entirely out of wool and encased in glass. This precious item, was kindly given to me by the Trust’s Director Sarah Hosking. It lived on a little shelf in the cottage here in Clifford Chambers the last time I was awarded a residency (whist I was writing my second book, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Hatmaking, Kyle Books). It completely fascinated me, and when I left, Sarah generously offered it to me. It has always been on my mind to make some work inpsired by it and I feel it is fitting that I have finally got round to doing so whilst in residence this time. I will be selling this work at Stroud Open Studios over the next two weekends to help raise money towards Sew on the Go (see my next Unbound update for further details).
A heartfelt thankyou to all of you who have so generously supported me. We are now 77% funded. But there is still a gap to bridge! If you would still like to reserve your copy of Sew on the Go by pledging, or know of someone who might be interested in taking part in this truly creative project, there is still time to jump on board. Just click on the link:
Having ‘a room of one’s own’ in which to write, make and contemplate has been the most magical gift, and the financial support of the bursary (which is awarded as part of the prize) has meant peace of mind for the duration of my stay. There has been one big change to the cottage since I was last here and that is the addition of a light-filled studio. This space has made the world of difference. Funded by The Arts Council to the tune of £37,000 and designed by Stratford-Upon-Avon architects Studio Spicer, it means that you are no longer working in the dark!
I was thrilled to be asked by Sarah to take part in celebrations this weekend to open the new studio, a task that was performed with great aplomb by Dame Joan Bakewell, broadcaster, author, journalist and passionate advocate for older people. It was such a pleasure to meet her. She has always been a huge supporter of The Hosking Houses Trust, and indeed, gave Sarah one of her first donations - a cheque for £30 many years ago! Dame Joan was tasked with undoing 100 bows tied over the door of the new studio, each bow representing one of the writers who has stayed here ( I have the honour of being writer 100).
Sarah Hosking and her 100 writer bows
Afterwards in the Clifford Chambers village hall, around 70 guests heard Joan quote selected passages from A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, the title of which lends its name to the residency. It took me right back to my first reading of the book whilst studying for my English degree at St Andrews University. I felt the frisson of the words all over again, and offered up a prayer of thanks for the progress women have made since it was first published in 1929.
We have come so far, but we can never stop pushing further and fighting for more. There are women the world over who are still denied basic rights and freedoms, girls who have no chance to make something of their lives, let alone the luxury of a room of their own.