World Wide Weave in Canada
"Destiny being their guide they builded better than they knew," remarked Canada's first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, of the Canadian Constitution, newly minted in 1867. It is a phrase that neatly applies to the coming into being and ever expanding mandate of Camphill Communities Ontario.
An ever evolving Camphill Ontario ethos carries forward time honoured traditions that ensure grace and ground for whatever is seeking to come forth from the future. Blessings acrue in the form of coincidence and serendipity to accomodate eventualities that sometimes arise at short notice and require the work of many hands. A confluence of elements, past, present and future, opened the way for the World Wide Weave exhibition held in Barrie from April 6-24 of this year. An event carried from venue to venue, in country after country, by the surprise of its own unfolding, the value of this exhibition cannot be overestimated in the lives of all who encounter it.
I happened to be in Ireland in November 2015 when this awe-inspiring exhibition was opened by its curator, Peter Bateson, in Dublin's Civic Buildings. I had a chance to talk to him about the history and purpose of a project to which he was passionately committed and which set him on a demanding course of travel by land and sea and sky. Luckily for the Camphill Foundation he has the keen sense of the fitness of things that befits a good ambassador, to add to his skill in devising, organizing and keeping patient pace with the vagaries that attend the best laid plans of prospective hosts in several countries. The Bateson reports from every leg of the journey provide a connecting link for all the people who have been touched in passing or in their direct involvement with the exhibition itself.
Peter's readiness to go beyond the call of duty is a capacity common among the Camphill co-workers I know and love, never more obvious to me than in the period leading up to the WWW opening in Barrie. Diane and Chuck Kyd, assisted by Elizabeth Campbell and other close associates had already expended great effort in opening a Camphill Store a couple months before in the downtown core that required their daily attention. All other hands were meanwhile on deck in the nearby MacLaren Art Gallery where the fourth annual Camphill Community Action Award gala dinner was to take place on April 4 when 150 participants would pay tribute to a distinguished Canadian craftsman, Donald Stewart. Peter was already at work across the road hanging the exhibition with the help of versatile Andre Benetot in the Collier Street United Church.
This cluster of Camphill events and the media attention generated resulted in a good turnout for the WWW that grew by word of mouth into a paean of praise for the rich vein of creativity evident in the tapestries, expressed in comments written in our guest book and in the faces and glowing remarks of the people who puchased catalogues. One enthusiastic viewer wrote: I am in love with this exhibition! These works eloquently convey a sense of location, activity, community and connection. The warmth, cameraderie and devotionare palpable and such a delightful witness to the wholistic marvel that is Camphill. Bravo! Artistic fruits of Camphill living thus remain a wellspring of inspiration, born of a conversation between souls and rendered in natural materials and striking colours that celebrate the enduring rhythms of everyday life and the work of human hands.
Whether we consciously realize it or not, we are as human beings today always seeking antidotes to ever encroaching images of depravity and despair. Every darkness seeks its opposite. The redemptive qualities inherent in the Camphill co-working tradition left viewers of the exhibition breathless in a part of the soul where they had not been touched before. Reflecting now as I write gives me a sense of the larger picture that is ever in a process of becoming through the balancing of opposite forces in which every human being is engaged. The WWW presents a momentous collective striving in this regard.
September 4, 2016