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Peter Bateson 2017-02-09 13:34:42

WWWeave in USA, Norway and Finland

After its successful visit to Barrie, Ontario, Canada in February 2016, the World Wide Weave crossed the border south by road and arrived in New York City in time for the 50th anniversary celebration of Camphill in North America. This gala evening and dinner took place in a spectacular venue Tribeca 360, with a panoramic view of Lower Manhattan, and was attended by a large number of Camphill board members, friends, supporters, parents, residents and co-workers. It was a glittering occasion and the exhibition was displayed on a huge rail and curtain construction which formed one side of a long entrance hall to the gala venue.

From New York City the exhibition moved upstate to the town of Hudson and the Solaris Centre for Social Arts, the Main Street focus of the life of Camphill Hudson, a thriving and developing urban initiative. The exhibits looked marvellous in the large and light-filled room behind the popular gift shop, and with the entrance right on the main street of the town it brought in a large number of interested and appreciative visitors. People from nearby Camphill communities Copake and Triform were able to visit and also friends and supporters of Camphill from all over the New England states.

The next move was south again to Pennsylvania, for no less than five weeks at the Lincoln Building in the special heritage site of Historic Yellow Springs in Chester county, about 5 miles from Camphill Village Kimberton Hills. The original building on the site was opened in person by George Washington in 1777 as a military hospital, and later there was a Civil War hospital and orphanage. The current building was erected in 1900, also as an orphanage. Historic Yellow Springs in West Pikeland has a mission to share, preserve and celebrate its heritage by focusing on visual arts, history and the environment. The exhibition filled four spacious rooms on the first floor of the historic building, in what had once been the girls’ dormitory, kept deliciously cool by the air-conditioning – it was boiling hot outside!

Executive Director Eileen McMonagle was a tremendous support and helped to achieve widespread publicity for the World Wide Weave, not least in a whole page article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, with syndication throughout the whole of Eastern Pennsylvania. It was immensely gratifying that many people drove long distances to see the exhibition from all over that area and from New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The warmth, appreciation and positivity towards the exhibition and the work of Camphill itself were overwhelming.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer article Eileen McMonagle described the exhibition as “a wonderful show and a great story about the power of creativity”.  She said that “the forefront of the Camphill Movement is the understanding that people living with developmental disabilities and learning differences have extraordinary creative talents and skills of all kinds such as practical, social and artistic”. She also said that “Everyone at Historic Yellow Springs is honored to partner with their neighbours and friends at Camphill Village Kimberton Hills and the communities of Soltane and Beaver Run to present the show to the region”.

At the end of its time in North America the whole exhibition travelled back across the Atlantic by FedEx and after a short summer break in England it took to the air again at the end of September for Oslo, to form part of the 50th anniversary jubilee of Camphill in Norway.  This took place in the renowned Holmenkollen Hotel near the famous ski jumps on a hill overlooking the city, but the exhibition was in the exceptional setting of Oslo City Hall, a landmark in the city centre right on the harbour side with a view out over the fjord. This venue afforded the largest, lightest and most spacious venue of the entire two-year project and the central location in such an iconic building ensured a steady flow of visitors, including tourists from all over the world. Having the really excellent City Hall restaurant and café on the mezzanine above also helped! 

It was a wonderful experience to have the exhibition as part of the 50 Year Jubilaeum and it created another focal point for the event outside the hotel, along with a lively and colourful whole-day craft fair held in a neighbouring market square. The Jubilaeum itself was a full-on conference with prominent guest speakers, discussion groups, artistic activities and social events, not least a spectacular gala dinner attended by the king’s sister Princess Astrid, with a speech given by the Mayor of Oslo. 

After the close of the event, the exhibition went by road to Camphill Rotvoll-Kristoffertunet  in Trondheim, where a small exhibition of a selection of pieces took place, thanks to the initiative of local board member Astrid Sandvik. It then travelled again by air from Trondheim via Oslo and Stockholm to Helsinki for a two week show in the Finnish capital, financially supported by Camphill Finland. This was the twenty-sixth and final venue of the World Wide Weave tour and took place in the ultra-modern Pasila Library, a short distance north from the centre of Helsinki. 

Already in mid-November the days were very short and it was freezing, with day time temperatures of -7°C and a lot of lying snow. This, however, did not stop people swimming at night in the harbourside sea-water (heated) pool in clouds of steam and magical fairy-lights, the most courageous among them even daring a few moments in the unheated section, usually accompanied by loud screams. 

The World Wide Weave exhibits were displayed all over the very light and spacious library building, on two floors, and looked wonderful against the minimalist backdrop of white walls, wood and glass. As in almost all venues, including Barrie, Hudson, Yellow Springs and Oslo City Hall, there was a festive opening event attended by many residents, co-workers, board members and friends of Camphill in Finland. Also, most importantly, as in other venues, there was a tremendous amount of interest, appreciation and warmth expressed by the general public, both towards the exhibition itself and the work of Camphill more widely. 

When the exhibition closed, on 1st December it flew back to Britain and the forty-five exhibits which had been purchased during the course of the tour could be posted to their new owners. Some of them had patiently waited for almost two years to take possession! Some interesting crossovers have taken place, for example a piece created in The Lantern, England, now resides in Canada; two others from England, Sheiling Thornbury and Delrow, are in Switzerland and France; the piece from Moscow, Russia, is in England; from Tapola, Finland to Dublin, Ireland; from Duffcarrig, Ireland to Tapola, and also from Ontario, Canada to Tapola. The exhibit from Glenora Farm, Vancouver Island, now lives in St-Prex, Switzerland and the exhibit from Perceval in St-Prex has gone to a house near Winchester Cathedral, England. The piece from Staffansgården in Sweden has gone to Hudson, New York;  two from Cairnlee to The Mount, England and Vidaråsen, Norway; from Camphill Scotland to Oslo; from Coleg Elidyr, Wales, to Simeon, Aberdeen; from Tigh A’Chomainn, Aberdeen to Ghent, New York. A number of communities which preferred to have their own piece back home, offered to pay the full exhibition asking price, as a generous gesture of thanks and appreciation towards Camphill Foundation, for which the trustees are enormously grateful.

All that remains to be said is that a good number of exhibits are still available for purchase and these beautiful creations can be viewed on the Foundation website at www.camphillfoundation.net. The price is very reasonable but any difficulty with this can be discussed with Peter Bateson (contact details on the webpage). 

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