Yurtle 2019

This is the year!

2019 is the year that I will get my beloved ‘Yurtle’ out of dusty, unsuitable, temporary storage in my husband’s working garage, give her some much needed love and set her up again as my working studio/gallery on our plot.

This has been my dream since I purchased her in 1999! But somehow life kept getting in the way.

Yurtle was hewn and lovingly constructed in Dumfreisshire in 1999 by a, yurt living couple, who lived, back then, in the gardens of Orchardton Castle, with their first baby.
Mark (Hamilton?) created this small size 14 foot, Kasikistan style, ‘ger’ in his forest workshop in the grounds. The main body and roof poles are all beautifully sawn from a single, large, ash tree and each pole is carefully shaped, steamed and bent to create this domed roof. This is what makes Yurtle really quite a special tent. The tarps were painstakingly sewn in a castle ballroom by Wanda.
They believed that these ‘prototype’ tarps had a design fault, so gave me a considerable discount. I later discovered what that was for myself!

This was my winter Solstice greeting image from the very first time I lived in her. When her tarps were black, not fading out to grey as they are now. It was a magical experience, those first months, on my father’s farmland, living as close to the land as I could.
This was cut, abruptly, short by a storm force 10, that, literally, peeled the top tarp off and exposed my whole life to the elements. This was the design fault. The top tarp did not come down far enough. The wind eventually just got underneath and peeled it like an orange! I remember just hanging on, for what seemed like hours, fingers bleeding, screaming into the wind, until, eventually, I was forced to let go.
The site looked like a bomb had hit it the next morning and I sadly dried and packed it all away, taking this disaster as my cue to leave and move back into my father’s house as I planned my next direction.

One of my curious visitors in that time introduced me to a Scottish saying, usually used referring to the round chapels found across Scotland…’Nae corners for the de’il to hide in’.
This is how living in the round feels. Whole. Complete.
I’d picked up a charming old, old Polish/Russian woodburning stove, in a Munich flea market, that while, due to no seals, did not hold heat, burned brightly and hot in the heart of her.
I had never been happier in the UK.

After that the yurt came with me everywhere in my wee white Transit van/home.
I devised a clever storage system that meant I could live in the van even when yurt was in it.
It then came back out to Germany, Munich where I lived in a kunst farhien (artist’s community) for 3 years. During that time it was used as a venue/chai shop/bar for many events. Someone even asked if it could be a venue for a dominatrix, he thought it had that kind of vibe, but I was unsure as to how well it would be looked after, so declined! Great times!

Later it was borrowed by some friends who, I gather, had a fun year at the Green Fair with her, but, unfortunately, were, for whatever reason, unable to return my beloved yurt to me.
My life was fairly chaotic at that time and, to cut a very long story short, my adventures carried on without her.
But I was always worried.
When at last I found myself more settled here, in a static caravan, in Scotland, a friend here kindly agreed to make the epic drive from West Argyll to Brighton to recover her.
It was strange going back to Brighton, were I had completed my Visual and Performing Arts degree in 1991, but so many familiar faces were still around. The present occupants of the housing co-op house had been told that it belonged to someone else!!! She had been stored in an under-stair cupboard so, happily, was in reasonable nick. I was told I was lucky to have come when I did, as there had been plans to clear that cupboard out, due an impending eviction! So lucky! It took me quite a while to find forgiveness for those friends of old! But Yurtle and I were, at last, reunited.

I had talked with the local laird (landowner) about moving into it and was shown some lovely possible sites, but my work, as castle cleaner, and meeting, my now, husband meant that did not quite come together (although I did erect it outside my caravan, using it mainly as wood storage for a year.)

Since getting married and moving into our current home she has had quite a few outings. Normally as extra space at friends weddings, and, once, as a Tai Chi studio at our local arts festival. She was borrowed once when she sustained a small break in her crown, but the guys who borrowed it did a great repair. I have though become very protective of her now.

In 2012 I set it up as ‘The Charcoal Yurt’.
Open all day, everyday, for 2 weeks, during another of our annual, community, arts festivals.
I made my own drawing charcoal and invited all to come, to be involved in the making of charcoal and encouraging everyone to have a go at drawing with it. Unexpectedly the planning department saw my sign on the road and came up, serving me with a notice. No yurt had permission to be set up for longer than 28 days!! Mine was set up with no infrastructure, only a ground sheet, in my garden!! It did become like some kind of dark comedy when two planners arrived on site to argue that I must take it down. I simply could not believe it! They were slightly appeased when I explained that I was not charging for the experience.
I later found out that other people had also been ordered to take theirs down. This area was ‘yurtist’!!!
We have since been forced to apply for planning permission, for a permanent yurt decking, and I am planning on re-siting her in a different position than agreed, so bracing myself for more of that non-sense!

Since that event she has only been erected one more time, for a friend’s 60th birthday festival…..

And now she lies, still inappropriately stored in my husband’s oily, dusty, working garage. Our proposed new shed still not built due to the pressures of my husband’s business.

Unused and unloved. The door, that I had always intended to build, still unbuilt. The longed for PVC windows have been added, but I have never seen how they work. The repairs and maintenance urgently needing doing.

The serious depression I was dealing with, during this time, meant that I simply could not face dealing with her and this only contributed to the great sadness and lack of confidence I was experiencing.
I simply did not feel capable.
In many ways the state of the yurt echoed the state of my mind and body.

It makes total sense to me that, now, after I have worked hard the last 3 years to heal through doing my creative practise, my ‘activate’ has led me right back around to this huge part of my life. My Yurtle.

To set her up again, give her the care, make the long awaited door, create a semi-permanent site for her in our garden and move my Gaia related practise outside into this pleasing, holding, warm, woody, fire heated, closer to the elements, space, seems to be, clearly, the next logical, step.
This is, now, the right time to do this. All the lights are green!

Opening her up as an open gallery also will give visitors a better idea of my heART and provide a more authentic environment for its creation. Providing a versatile venue for everything from circle gatherings to film showings, story telling and children’s puppet shows…not only as a gallery.

It also has became apparent to me that I feel SAFER, more prepared for oncoming climate change, if I am back in the more physical routine of managing such a space. It always was my ‘prepper’, retirement plan!
I will be returning to collecting water, lighting fires and all round heaving and carrying again. I will become fitter again and, very importantly, be enabled to move again when I wish. And of course closer to my beloved Earth.
So this new adventure begins.

Currently the snow lies thick on the ground., but I have begun spending the money necessary.
I have bought a small box trailer (which will double as a small workshop in bad weather and more suitable storage) and a new tiny wood burner (my old one is sadly flaking cast iron now and suitable for a public space).
I have sourced the ash for making the door, priced up the wood needed to build a new wooden floor and done endless designs of both. I think I have cracked the optimal systems for my plans now! I am pricing the 1/2 ton of sand needed to prepare the already hardcore, seasonal site in our garden.
It is all go!
So this will be my focus for the foreseeable future.

It will be a while until I can settle fully back into my Gaia experiments again, but have happily stumbled upon a project I can join using the ‘72 seasons‘ from Japan as a structure for producing small artworks and poems in between all this hard work! That and updates on my progress will become the body of this blog for the time being.

Crosby, Stills and Nash’s ‘…we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden‘ plays on the radio….I find myself smiling at the divine timing of it.
I have got to….and am going to!
Wish me luck in the all the doing of this long held dream! It still all seems quite challenging for this ‘older’ lady!
Seed intentions are planted.
Roll on spring!

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