Alison Park

Alison Park and her family run Sizergh Farm and farm shop, with a cafe and community garden. During Covid, Alison was inspired to make a collection of tiny houses, inspired by folklore as well as contemporary happenings, and a sense that it’s important to pay attention to the small things in life, and to creatures other than human …

“During Covid, mysterious things happened, things that we didn’t understand and couldn’t comprehend. Before our rational recent past folklore and myth focussed the minds of rural people and even I can remember being regaled with a particular story of bogarts by a lad who worked on the farm. One of the liberating activities of my youth was appearing in a Kendal community play about a murky figure called The Bogeyman.

These houses came about through the need to construct during the time when in the farm shop and kitchens we were industrious in the extreme, making and delivering food, welcoming worried customers and trying to square their anxieties with our own cheerful and continued service – what key workers did and do.

So the houses were for the fairies that live around the pond, who also ventured into the material world as science grappled with human bafflement. Steve Messam made the Little Folk signs that have long alerted visitors to the presence of other creatures, and they are definitely accompanied by the less gentrified bogarts.”

Answering the three Artful Questions

What does creativity/culture mean to you?

Being surrounded by beauty and wonder; the transformations of nature, both emerging and dying, the benign and the obscene (death and destruction feature just as much as blossom and bloom).

Culture is what people make of all this interconnected world, material and otherwise.  Culture is transformation: geology, geography, natural history, the mosaic of land use, farming, building style, folklore and the way we represent belonging and not belonging.

Connectivity … Covid-19 has forced us all to reimagine ways to connect. What have you missed – and what new possibilities have opened up?

Because of the lack of disturbance the Artic terns on the Farne Islands moved their nesting site to the outer islands;  I wondered how the hidden creatures might emerge from the background. Bogart houses appeared on the island in the pond.

Place – How can we, collectively, and artfully, better care for our environment?

Honour our immense good fortune to live in this place. Keep it local and particular – these treasures are on our doorstep. We can draw attention to the small scale as much as the expansive. For farming it’s always about seeing what’s there, reading the landscape. On an organic farm we must see the ubiquitous dock and dandelion as an indication of something going on beneath the surface. Is there a mineral imbalance in the soil that is allowing that species to dominate? What will correct it? That’s a form of alchemy.

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