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How we got to here…

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The Handmade Hotel is just as its name implies…. from the ground up.
Local stone, set up block on block in the traditional way to make thick sturdy walls.
Massive, antique oak wood, salvaged from earthquake damaged houses, cleaned and fashioned to serve new purpose….
Tiles, concrete, paint and plaster. Shrubs, trees and winding paths, all arranged with an eye and a mind to creating a unique atmosphere of living space….
Ten years of time and effort, a slow way to go in this age of instant everything….

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Our original intention was to build a facility that would comfortably cater for the needs of individuals or small groups engaged in the study and practice of a range of various arts and culture based subjects. It needed to be versatile enough to cover a variety of different needs and we envisaged a scatter of buildings set amongst a not too tidy spread of natural styled gardens.

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Above all we wanted it to have a particular atmosphere that we felt would enhance and stimulate the creative process, and this we discovered we could better achieve by, wherever possible, forgoing the professionals and doing a major part of the work ourselves. This made for a much slower progress but has ultimately been so much more fulfilling in the outcome. Not only have we managed to get what we intended by way of physical design but as importantly it has emphasised the human values inherent in environmental work and has suggested the framework in which we plan to continue. The Handbuilt Hotel and Gardens became a work in progress.

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Before long we were attracting people who wanted to help and it was surprising just how many men and women, young and old there were who were willing and eager to join in and have a go. The processes of Building and Gardening seemed to resonate with people in some instinctive way and, living a loose community lifestyle, using hands and getting them dirty, learning the ways of natural materials and the skills involved, transformed work into a pleasure and we found ourselves living an everyday adventure.

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So, The Handmade Hotel and Gardens effectivly became built in the spirit which it was originally meant to serve. The journey has consumed the destination and no longer with any fixed idea of completion, we intend to expand our activities to include the opportunity for more people to engage in and profit from the evolution of the place and the experience it presents.

blueflower1_1-copyAway from the stresses of the world, surrounded by the magical gardens, looking out over the still blue agean sea it is easy to relax into a positive mind set, drop personal problems and drift into an easy sense of sociability.

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blueflower1_1-copyAnd now we are turning a page… The creation of ‘Living space’  has proved to be an enormously absorbing, if not sometimes exhausting medium and thankfully, the momentum has carried us to the point where we can now turn a page and be able to get up in the morning without having to think about building a wall or installing a floor. So we beginn to pick up on the threads of our past careers in the arts and crafts arena, only this time, rather than an emphasis on making and selling, we are focused on sharing our work and our good fortune in having these facilities.

blueflower1_1-copyI have set up my silver smithing workspace and am once again awed by the scope of activity it presents. Tools are the key in this medium and my years hanging out with the metalsmiths in Rajastan gave me access to inexpensive and beautiful hand made tools which i would collect enthusiasticaly for future use.
blueflower1_1-copyI also have a good collection of woodcarving chisels, draw knives, spokeshaves etc. and are putting them to use on the reclaimed oak we have been using for building purposes. It is a relief to be able to work a piece of wood without concern for utility, just carving for the sake of form.
Sculpting is a pure and uncomplicated medium, released from the bondage of convention by such creative pioneers as Brancusi, Picasso, Arp and countless others who embraced abstraction to explore the visual language of line and form.
blueflower1_1-copyAlso, for the less politically correct, Cement Work is a totally fascinating ancient medium that overlaps with other organic materials and presents a vast array of opportunities for creative expression. (we will not be building giant structure of concrete for corporate use) Moderation and measure are our guides.
blueflower1_1-copyIn the same vein, i am nostalgic for the first material i ‘mastered’ and which through the seventies and eighties kept me self-employed, mobile and always furnished with challenging commissions, for equipment cases and luggage, clothing, decor, you name it, i made it…..Leatherworking unfortunately is dependent on killing but is arguably a most ancient art/craft that should be preserved and i am considering renewing my involvement.

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As well as giving classes ourselves in a variety of media and materials, we are offering space and equipment for readily experienced artists to bring their own agenda and work in an inspiring environment away from home. We are also welcoming artists who would like to take advantage of our ideal location and the use of our facilities to lead their own study groups.

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O.k it is true that we are still building and gardening and most likely always will be. It has provided the grounds for so much learning that i am surprised that i never found my way there before. Wearable and decorative art was always my field and over time i have had love affairs with leather, wood, stone, fibres, metals and glass, but the making of environments to be lived in has presented an eyeopening field of creative technique and an exposure to a multitude of natural materials, including not least of all, where gardening is concerned, the amazing and awsome element of biological growth itself.

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In fact the garden has emerged as something of an all encompassing arena for creative activities. It provides a potently inspiring atmosphere that lends itself as much to personal contemplative study as it does to work of a more social nature, as well as offering its lively and profound space as a living canvas to augment with the ongoing work of our hearts and hands.