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For the past year the volunteer group (The Boon Day Group as we have been named) has worked hard to get Coniston Institute back into shape. Having raised more than £10,000 (with grants from Coniston 14 and the Rawdon Smith Trust), work began today stripping out the old kitchen. It was a vintage English Rose kitchen but fits of territorial behaviour resulted in padlocks being bolted to the fronts of many of the lovely aluminium cupboards, not realising that they were a British design classic! The company that made them, Constant Speed Airscrews originally made nose cones for Spitfires and parts for Lancaster bombers throughout WW2, but after the war, being left with a large workforce and a stockpile of aircraft grade aluminium, the company went on to design the English Rose Kitchen. This was quite possibly the first ‘modular’ kitchen range in Europe. We did managed to sell the units on ebay but only for about 5% of what a reconditioned one would cost. Never mind!
2009 Greasy Pole Champion Adam Kane reclaimed his title this weekend at the 2011 Crab Fair and Sports, Egremont. In torrential conditions the Pole proved nigh on impossible, but with perseverance the competitors gradually dried the pole as they gained height with each effort. An engrossing three way dual ensued between the pack leaders Lehn and Moorfoot, with Master Kane ultimately claiming the shortest ribbon and his prize of £5.00 cash and a leg of lamb sponsored by Wilsons Butchers of Egremont. That's Wilsons Butchers of Egremont.
The organisers would like assert that Adam Kane is no relation to Alan Kane (nor Jeremy Deller) the artists responsible for bringing the Greasy Pole back into operation as a seminal public sculpture of the Discursive Age and dangerous sporting apparatus.
Greasy Pole Results:
1st Prize: Adam Kane
2nd Prize: Sarah Lehn
3rd Prize: Josh Moorfoot
A Hudson GA Sports Correspondent
There are only so many jars of traditional British pickle you can consume in a year, and my annual pickling has in recent harvests expanded to include a number of Asian varieties. This recipe book, The Perfect Pickle is a well thumbed and stained inspiration, as was our visit to Japan in 2006. One of the most magical Japanese pickles I tasted, and sadly the nost hopeless to replicate at home, was one made with rice wine lees (the stuff leftover from saki brewing) - an unforgettable, ancient flavour with all the complexity and more besides of any European fermented food. At Lawson Park we regularly make kimchi (a fiery and restorative Korean short-term pickle) for which use the legendary Madhur Jaffrey's recipe, and my nuka box (a paste of fermented rice bran into which vegetables are buried) is now in its third year, having even had to travel to Germany to help cater a Myvillages seminar.
Just now, we have a great many vegetables still in the ground that are fast deteriorating in the stormy weather. Purple shiso is a stunning-looking plant most often grown here in the UK in bedding schemes. We grow it in the polytunnel (as well as the green variety) and now is the time to harvest the large fragrant leaves for winter use. This year I'm again simply layering them flat in a glass jar with miso paste, using a flat knife as if I'm buttering a whole load of sandwiches. It'll last the whole winter, and the mix makes all sorts of delicious soup bases and dressings.
One of our volunteers Michael Davies who was with us for 3 months left us with a very interesting and well written blog entry for our website about his time at Lawson Park.
When I came to Grizedale, being a working class boy from suburban Glasgow, I couldn't have been farther from home, in these rural Lake District surroundings of the staggeringly beautiful and impeccable Lawson Park. Thankfully I was met with a genuine acceptance and quiet assistance by the residents, the degree of which has surprised me somewhat.
I came here without particular proclivity for, well, anything useful. Fresh from art school, your eyes can still be a little dewy - because art schools aren't really schools are they? And what you learn in them can so easily, and often, amount to nothing at all. In fact it seems an absurd misuse of the word art, or artist, if one thinks it can be proscribed or created through a meagre three - four years in a non-school. What they do achieve though, in general, through provision of their nurturing time, space, framework, is capacity for critical outlook and thought, which is a powerful, vastly under valued skill, and quite ominously rare. But this capacity must be applied with rigour and insight to far more than just insular gallery exhibits.
I see Lawson Park as a yardstick, a benchmark, a tan line, err... it's like white bed linen that shows up all the dirt, hair and nasty bits that we all leave behind and makes them so obvious that we really can't ignore them any longer, in fact they become to clear that we can examine them in comfort and wonder at how they came to be, and perhaps devise ways of not getting so dirty in the future. The shit streaks and sweat patches that as a society we've grown so used to hiding under dark colours and deodorant that only once you see them you realise how easily they can be washed away. Perhaps I’m being a little think with simile, but simply put, they have a good life here, and eminently worth striving for. There are so many things that are lost to habituation of city life and work - most significantly the manual work of making or growing - which has dislocated so many lives with the reality of our existence. This disjunction grows greater by the day, observable through the sense of suspicion and uncertainty on the part of the ‘offcomer’ people from cities, at anything that is not qualified by the framing mechanics of consumer packaging, sell-by-dates and GDAs - an odd reversal of the stereotypical country folk’s distrust of everything technological.
I've spent my three months here a bit like a sponge, quietly absorbing and reticently retaining as much as I could. I've even washed Andy Warhol’s collection of cups, and wiped down surfaces used by some great minds. But alas, my summer not-a-holiday at Grizedale is at an end and now I must go off into the night and squeeze myself of all this juice.
So long, and thanks for all those Sophistocakes (copyright Benjamin, M. Z. 2011)
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