In 2017 SWCWT commissioned Emma Dove to make a film about our woodland site. Her 40 minute film captures the people, the stories and the natural environment including archive footage over the past 20 years.
Taliesin Film is now available for private screenings. Contact: Alyne Jones by email email@example.com
From our first event, held 1,000 nights before the Millennium and blessed by the beautiful Hale-Bopp comet, we have always been a collective. All of the initial meetings were conducted in Galloway, ensuring that everyone involved had a sense of ownership and sharing.
Founder Trustee Ed Iglehart writes:
In 1995, the idea of a Millennium Forest stirred the enthusiasm of many people, proposing to extend and improve native woodland areas all over Scotland and re-establish and strengthen the connections between communities and their local natural history. Reforesting Scotland (RS), which developed from Bernard Planterose’s Tree Planter’s Guide to the Galaxy, was and continues to be very influential for a number of us. When RS held its annual Gathering at Laurieston Hall in 1995, there was much talk of the Millennium Forest project, and an old friend, Tim Stead pointedly noted that there were no proposals from Galloway, the most forested part of Scotland. He and Eoin Cox, stalwarts of Borders Community Woodlands, bullied Alyne Jones and myself into trying to organise local interest. Alyne organised a meeting of potentially interested folk, and I invited Tony Bonning, the owner of Taliesin, thinking he might be interested.
A local voluntary association, Southwest Community Woodlands (SCW) came into being, its core being made up of folk whose interests in local environmental matters had come together earlier in response to proposals to bury nuclear waste in the granite hills at the heart of the Galloway Forest Park, the bulk of which lies in the west of the Stewartry. Southwest Community Woodlands Trust (SCWT) was then formed to provide the corporate identity required by funding bodies, most notably the Millennium Forest for Scotland Trust (MFST). A divergence of priorities between MFST, (countable trees and hectares) and SCWT (people, plants, creatures, places and their relationships) resulted in a cordial separation, and SCWT continues to develop in association with a number of local initiatives, including riparian planting along the upper Urr and elsewhere, native tree nurseries, and the creation and development of our community woodland centre at Taliesin.
Alyne writes: Taliesin has given us a focus over the years spent working together; enjoying ourselves creating community buildings, woodlands, craft items with wood, wool, stone, air and fire. All these elements which go to make a place where we meet, in a sanctuary with awareness of the nature of our species, and how we connect with nature and each other in harmony. We have flourished as an organisation principally because we bought our own piece of ground, giving us stability and inspiration to work with the land, planting trees and giving the plants, animals and birds a place. Our facilities are a water pipe from an underground spring, a compost loo, and ponds we have created over the years. Blessed, thankfully, by the fact that mobile phone signals are almost nonexistent, it is always a peaceful place to whittle and carve out ideas over a few days.
Willow Framework of Cloud Chamber before Wattle and Daub.
The Cloud Chamber built on top of the hill was the inspiration of Galloway clog and shoe maker, Godfrey Smith, who sadly died on 12 January 2015 . The willow framework was made by Trevor Leat; daub and lime overcoat by many, including Jem and Jools Cox, Godfrey and others. Inevitably, due to the passage of time and weathering, this structure as well as many others built over the years at Taliesin has disappeared, including the first ladies loo! It was replaced by the composting “loo with a view” made as a ‘course’ in roundwood construction led by Jem, who then led a ‘course’ to thatch the roof.
King Island Alaskan Kayaks
Building Alaskan Kayaks in Galloway was the first course of its kind in Scotland, conceived and organised, again, by Godfrey. It was the wettest October in Galloway on record and we were flooded out. Despite this setback, we were all inspired to construct four kayaks and the muddy mess that was our workshop was the next project at Taliesin requiring complete trench digging and re-engineering our site.
Peg Loom Weaving.
At almost every Gathering we have had at Taliesin in recent years, you will see young and old busy surrounded by piles of sheep fleece. Sue Appleyard has taught all of us to make peg loom cushions and rugs over the years, and the intrepid folks who make camp in the woodland while we are having our events, have groundmats made on these looms. It is the ultimate secret of camping when the night temperature drops!
How did the group of people who founded Taliesin come together in the first place?
My personal account will follow in the next item….Beginnings in Galloway, Land and People.