Peter Bateson

Peter Bateson 2017-02-09 13:28:36

World Wide Weave in Switzerland

In February 2016 the World Wide Weave Exhibition arrived in St-Prex, near Lausanne on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Camphill Perceval is situated a short walk away up the hill, overlooking the medieval town and with a spectacular panorama of the lake and the French and Swiss Alps. The council of the local commune had placed at our disposal a beautiful large, light, purpose-built exhibition room in the municipal centre called Salle Araucaria, named after the tree outside. For Camphill Perceval this was a major event, greatly expanding the community’s vision of its own place as an integral part of the worldwide Camphill Movement. It was also the occasion for many wonderful personal reunions and new encounters. We had good publicity and an excellent illustrated article in the main Lake Geneva area newspaper ‘La Côte’, which helped to spread awareness of the exhibition and the work of Camphill.

Many visitors came from far and wide, from the whole surrounding area, from German Switzerland, Ticino (Italian), from southern Germany and southern and even northern France. One special guest was Brigitte Köber, the first weaver in Camphill, who established the craft along with Elsbeth Groth in Cairnlee c. 1950 and whose picture and story appear in the exhibition. She now lives in retirement near Bern. Many Camphill residents and co-workers came through the exhibition during its stay and it became quite a lively social centre, attracting lots of people just to spend time together in the presence of the beautiful and inspiring exhibits, and to deepen their appreciation of what was actually on view. 

As in all venues since the beginning of the exhibition tour, visitors experienced that it could sometimes take two, three or more visits for them to feel they had really taken it all in. This was shared by members of the public from all walks of life in the Lake Geneva area who came to the exhibition in large numbers. The director of a prestigious art gallery in Lausanne expressed enormous appreciation for the quality of the exhibition. An English visitor who lives near Geneva recognised the daughter of friends in one of the photos, a weaver who had participated in the creation of one of the English exhibits. With such anecdotes our planet becomes smaller, the links between countries stronger and above all the connections between people more real and authentic.

Concerts were organised on all four of the Sundays during the exhibition, including musicians from Perceval and also professionals who offered their gifts. In the second week a surprise occurrence affected us deeply. Thérèse Burg, Perceval’s music therapist, died suddenly just three days before the concert she was due to give with her partner Michael Binder. The end of the exhibition was marked by a glorious impromptu performance of folk-music by musicians from Perceval and Camphill Le Béal in the French region of Rhône-Alpes. 

The exhibition displayed incredible creativity and a marvellous range and diversity of colours, materials and techniques. Many visitors were touched by the love and joy which radiated straight to the heart from the photos and exhibits. The exhibition evoked in many visitors a feeling of amazement at the quality of the works on show. They could experience that the pieces themselves and the accompanying texts and photographs shone a light on the essential humanity of the creators, amongst whom the valuing of each individual person is paramount, and where disability becomes a secondary or even irrelevant issue. It was an intense and enlivening experience from beginning to end; four weeks of celebration, of festival, of personal encounters, an all-embracing healing immersion in the Camphill Movement!

A warm and living tapestry of human relationships on a global scale – this was the vision with which the enormous project was launched and this was the strong impression left behind in St-Prex when the exhibition moved on. It was enormous in terms of the soul-forces and qualities invested in it, by Peter Bateson as the director of the project, inspired and accompanied by the Being of Camphill which has worked with him and with us, and fully supported by Camphill Foundation UK & Ireland through which the whole project came about. In St-Prex the exhibition was also sponsored by the Council of ‘Fondation Perceval’ and the Camphill Association in Switzerland. Enormous enthusiasm and commitment also came from all the teams of helpers in all the different venues, and the helpful staff in those places, and each individual textile artist who left a little bit of him or herself in the exhibits. Hundreds of hands joined together in weaving these interlocking threads between so many people – it’s tremendous! 

I am happy to add that six of the pieces were purchased during the exhibition’s time in Switzerland and will find new homes here, four of them in St-Prex.

(Translated from the original French)

Denis-Pascal Donnet

Denis-Pascal is a very experienced weaver who leads the weaving workshop in the Ateliers du Glapin, St-Prex. 

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