David Bramwell

Artist Residency at Hawkwood: David Bramwell

I was lucky enough to return to Hawkwood this year and stay at the lodge at the bottom of the drive, a self-contained cottage with real fire, kitchen, cosy bedroom and tables at which to work. I enjoyed starting the day doing qi gong in the garden space and walking up to the main house for breakfast, a journey which sharpened the appetite.


The lodge was a place of quiet and solitude which is exactly what I needed, to focus on a specific writing project and to allow time to think about how I wanted this to evolve in 2023. After breakfast, I took walks through the woodland around Hawkwood and meditated on the countryside and let ideas that were bubbling up settle and take shape.

I was working on an extended piece of writing about folk horror, the Wicker Man, mayday rituals and why, culturally, we tend to represent the pagan, the animist as the bad guy in films and TV series, such as Wicker Man, Children of the Stones, in MR James stories and more recent films like Midsommar.

I was also taking time to read and listen to people like Alan Watts who reminded me that the great myths of western culture, which he calls the Ceramic and Mechanical Myths of Christianity and science, put humanity apart from nature through the creation of a hierarchy which used to bene called The Great Chain of Being. this way of relating to the world was a very different cosmology to our animist ancestors who saw themselves as integrated into the natural world not superior to it.

From this came the idea of releasing 8 booklets to coincide with each festival date of the pagan 8-fold wheel of the year. I got excited about this. It wouldn’t have had time to crystallise without the time and space at Hawkwood. to sleep on an idea, night after night, and wake up and be able to follow through is not always possible in our home environment with demands of the people and tasks around us. Hawkwood provides that nurturing space for magic to happen.

As much as i needed solitude I was also grateful that a group who were there for the week doing a crystal workshops kept coming over in me over during meal times to ask if I wanted to join them for conversations!

My week concludes with a performance of a show called The Cult of Water which neatly tied in with some of the themes I’d been working on. it was a collaboration with Fiona Eadie who I’d met during my first visit to Hawkwood in 2021. Fiona was researching folk stories and I asked if she would like to perform a story relating to water and Stroud’s local river. A year later the conversation in Hawkwood’s library came to fruition. The night ended by the spring, a group of us singing and giving blessings. It couldn’t have been a more enriching week for body, mind and soul.

Words by: David Bramwell.

Read David’s Guardian article here.

With thanks to the Francis Reckitt Art Trust, DCMS & Arts Council England for their funding that make these residencies possible. Read about our Artist Residency Programme here.


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