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  • Writer's pictureamanda haran

Exploring The Invisible Networks That Bind Us Together

Plants for textile collaborative community nature art and weaving ready to be harvested
Field full of dandelion plants and their seed clocks ripe for harvest

My introverted inclination has required some long-term attention to adjust to being a collaborative textile artist. The execution of co-curation needs your character to be open, trusting, friendly, flexible and brave, to say the least. Networking is a necessity that I first truly understood when I started work in Coventry. I was proud of the mycelium system that grew from one positive interaction to another. Once it gained momentum, it was a blissful place to call home. Derbyshire requires the same approach to allow my soul to find its creative tribe. I function so much better holding hands with others.

This week, my soul was soared by visiting Rowan McDonald from Holistic Restoration in her Matlock farmhouse kitchen. The project she champions with others is 'based on the latest scientific insights...(to guide) people towards inhabiting our ecological roles in landscapes once more. It allows the landscape and human to heal as one, connecting us to what came before and offering humanity a beneficial role to play as the future unfolds.'

Operating from the Midlands Restoration Hub, I was initially attracted by a facet of the operation called 'Woven Earth, ' which is the knowledge transfer piece of this jigsaw. Having conjured my schemes to work towards making my practice more sustainable, I wondered if they'd help. A few weeks later, I chatted with Rowan over a traditional farmhouse dining table. The 160-acre site is in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales. Where this table lives, the land is full of tangles of nature, dotted with welcoming sheep and sprinkled with the most beautiful chickens I have ever seen. It's a piece of bliss.

I think Fortune has provided the perfect site for my natural textile adventures as it not only has the most fantastic soil and people to collaborate with, but from May, it boasts five acres of dandelions - a target plant of mine to experiment with for cording. It's a genuinely creative feast offered by brave networking. Hence, some initial flax seeds have been sought. Where and how they grow is yet to be ascertained, but one thing has been learnt from Rowan. She asked what my vision would be of working with them. I wanted a little patch of land to discover how to grow, process and create with flax and then teach others. I had described spading the soil over to prepare the land. I loved her sharing how this physical exertion method was not used on the site as it destroyed the mycelium, the connection I had metaphorically prized since being taught about through Walking Forest. I will learn new ways, and I am excited to do so.

The invisible networks that bind us together, people and soil, can reap the most bountiful rewards when carefully nurtured. With Rowan's help, I plan to build and learn to care for all types of these in the kindest way possible.



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