“Perched above the sea in the ancient fishing hamlet of Bucks Mills, the Cabin was the studio and summer residence of painters Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards from the 1920s until Judith’s death in 1971. The interior and its contents have remained preserved, almost as the women left them, for over 40 years.” National Trust Website
During my residency at Bucks Mills Cabin, I will be moving between books and poems set by the sea, my own thoughts about growing up on this coast, and the stories I collect from visitors. These words will be set out around me like a bird’s bower, inviting those who spend time with me to write as well: Here is a pen, I will say, and paper. Write me how it feels: Here, now. In this way, we will share a while in the peace, effort and concentration experienced by the Cabin’s former owners, Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards.
The Cabin — like the tiny island on which the Moomin creator Tove Jansson and her partner lived and worked for decades — is a powerful symbol for me of female dedication to a simple life of creative practice and closeness to nature. I’ve had photos of the Cabin by my writing desk for years, so to be resident here myself is a heady feeling.
“So beautiful. There is such a grace in your writing.” Aurélie Baudrier, Head of Communications, Jan Michalski Foundation.
I was privileged to be one of the inaugural-year recipients of a residency at this leading European foundation for writing and literature, staying in one of 7 new architect-designed ‘treehouses’.
The Foundation describes its mission as being “to foster literary creation and encourage the practice of reading through a range of initiatives and activities. These include mounting exhibitions and cultural events that have a connection with writing and literature, making a large multilingual library available to the public, awarding an annual prize in world literature, granting financial support, and…hosting a writer-in-residence program.”
The residency was awarded so that I could devote my time to completing the Wild Patience Scrolls, while locating them in an international context.
“Elegant, humble.” Dr Martin Shaw, mythologist and story-teller
Writing a mile on scrolls of paper as long as the pool, I asked swimmers at Pells and beyond this question: When did you feel most wild and free? In your body? Your mind?