This story is about my connections with the Blaise Castle Estate in Bristol, in both my private life and my work with acta.
This story was made over five days at Access Creativity Theatre Arts (ACTA) in Bedminster, Bristol, to celebrate the organisation’s 21st birthday. Participants were ACTA workers.
It was led by Clodagh Miskelly, Eileen Haste and Paddy Uglow on a theme of “21 years of acta” and was supported by Bristol’s Museums, Galleries & Archives.
My first memories of the Blaise Castle Estate are sunny Saturday afternoon picnics with my Mum, my brother and our dog. My Mum telling me about her wedding reception at the Blaise house and how one of the waitresses spilt red wine on her wedding dress.
As a child I would ride around the estate with a local riding school, always fun, but sometimes a bit scary, as I hadn’t found where the brakes on some ponies were!
School used to take us running cross country through the estate, a particular torture for me, as I’ve never been the sporty type; diving in to the bushes for a fag was much more my scene.
At university when I was desperately trying to think of a scene to paint, it was the folly at Blaise Castle that provided me with that inspiration.
It seems no surprise then, that Blaise has featured so strongly in my work at acta.
Back in 1996 I worked with a group of young people to devise a performance in an amphitheatre that we built in the woods at Blaise, bringing to life the myths and legends of the estate.
Working with a group of boys and a group of young mums, we made two short horror films, set in the Blaise woods.
The video section of the young carers performance “Questical” was filmed at Blaise, and what fun that was, running through the woods, with a couple of fairies, a prince, a princess and a wicked Queen!
The backdrop to the “imp’s” section of “Stepping Stones” was filmed at Blaise, a wonderful and magical production, in Lawrence Weston. The Imps then made a surprise special performance at my wedding.
I didn’t notice any red wine spillages on my wedding dress, but Blaise Castle had some how managed to find its way even into that special day.
Guitar music created by Jez Taylor / acta, used under copyright licence.
Postcards of Blaise created by City of Bristol Museum, used under copyright licence.
All media not otherwise credited created by the story author, or permission obtained, used under copyright licence.