A Story Teller in Residence at Bancroft

Like any restless spirit with time on their hands, Anita Marie Moscoso who proudly wears the label ‘storyteller’, was quick to take up residence at Bancroft Manor. She decided that this gothic old mansion was the perfect place for her to haunt. When she is not in the manor you will find her at The Crossroads

The Bancroft Manor and Estate

The purpose of the Soul Food Cafe is to promote writing as a daily practice. The site is quite literally overflowing with healthy and tasty morsels for every writer. It’s full of tips, techniques, references and encouragement for writers of all kinds. Visit it often for inspiration for “listening to your muse”

What’s changed for me over the years as I have begun to haunt Bancroft is this, I am older ( of course because I came to the Café over ten years ago ) I feel like a writer AND a storyteller and now instead of wearing labels that were slapped on my back as I raced through life I’ve kept one because I am fond of it. You can meet Anita Marie at The Crossroads

Anita Marie Moscoso stumbled upon the Soul Food Cafe back in 2004 when she was searching online for a restaurant to have some…

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Consider This Option

If ever writers are stuck for inspiration, they need only to click on Heather Blakey’s Soul Food Cafe to find friendly support from fellow writers from all over the world and masses of sparkling ideas to trigger their imaginations. Heather is a truly creative dynamo, and this is a magic site. I’m so glad I found it. 

The Rookery was the final Advent Calendar in which Heather Blakey featured the work of writers and artists who gathered at the Soul Food Cafe. A hyperlink on each Raven took visitors to individual profiles featuring their work.

The face of the internet has changed dramatically since its inception. Back in the early day’s cyberspace was less crowded and corporate advertising was not as prevalent. When I open sites and find my computer inundated with pop-ups and requests to join mailing lists I confess I click right back out again. But maybe that is just me! I am old enough to remember when this didn’t happen.

Within this site are links to the work of individual artists.

Aside from the endless popups, there are countless courses to fix almost anything that may be ailing people – often at considerable cost.

When it was fully operational The Soul Food Cafe never generated an income. It operated using a different currency. Accolades support that it was a much-loved sanctuary for many people and you only need to visit the Artist’s Loft, take a slice of Pizza or visit many of the Advent Calendars and you will get an idea of how the site freely promoted the work of others. Moreover, if you feel so inclined, nine years after halting her work at Soul Food, Heather is undertaking an archeological dig and taking anyone who is interested into long forgotten corners of the cafe.

…one of those rare jewels in a special crown, Heather brings us all together, no matter what our ages, or experience, through Soul Food Cafe…Now we are really soaring up into the cyber heights with the eagles and ravens! Just as she imagined!
Teresa Seed

Bancroft Manor is in its early development stages but Heather Blakey (who created and grew Soul Food) and I have this vision of populating it with a diverse range of artisans who can work collaboratively if they wish, or simply extend their reach and gain access to like-minded readers.

A project which will give you insight into the potential of Bancroft Manor is Danse Macabre, a site which provides stimuli for anyone who is interested in the Macabre, who is looking for some extra ideas to kick start projects. Danse Macabre is currently being worked by Anita Marie Moscoso and Heather Blakey.

Another project is pitched to those who are interested in evocative ethnography, autobiographical and biographical writing.

If you are interested in joining Bancroft Manor you can choose how much you will pay, in your own currency, for a ‘life-long’ subscription. Subscriptions are used to keep the all associated sites free of advertising.

If you do decide to join us you will not be asked to ‘upgrade’ your membership, pay an annual subscription, be added to a mailing list (to be sold to others) or inundated with requests to pay for any additional ‘steak knives’. You will be added to a closed Facebook group and encouraged to set up an artistic space, post interesting links and let other members know what you are doing. You will also be invited to be interviewed and have your work showcased here on this home site. Of course, if you want to remain silent and be left alone to do things at your own pace no-one will tap on your chamber door making any demands.

Lived Life Experience – Memoir

I could live in a treehouse. I mean it, I really could! It would be like being on a permanent camping trip. I could fish for trout, hike in the woods and sleep under the stars every night. Of course, it would have to be a treehouse with a fast Internet connection and a kickin computer setup, or all bets are off. A girl has to have her standards you know. *wink* Diana Adams

I have no idea what has got into the drinking water of the Bancroft Estate but whatever it is I have decided it should be bottled. Heather Blakey, one of the creatives who has taken up residence here at Bancroft Manor, claims she has always wanted a treehouse. She says that when she realized that, as Diana Adams suggests, she could dream like a child and create the treehouse of her dreams here on the estate, she leapt at the opportunity. When found the picture of the one shown here she knew she had found just the right place. Happily, because anything is possible on the Bancroft Estate, Heather could click her fingers and the treehouse of her dreams materialized.

Now she has set up workshops out there and other residents are clambering up to join in to sit around yarning and working on Lived Life Experience projects. 

Of course, when she is not here on the estate, she does also run these workshops in Castlemaine and is prepared to work with those who take the time to contact her. She also finds time to work with Anita Marie Moscoso and Danse with the Macabre. As I said “something has got into the water. Perhaps the water is somehow connected to the magical waters of Castalia.”

Colouring Stories

It is interesting to watch as Heather steadily digs away in the Way Back Machine and draws out stimuli that she so effectively used with her students over twenty years ago. Young participants in her recent Stories by Me course enjoyed these quirky exercises just as much as the students she worked with back all those years ago.

Soul Food Bumper Catalogue of Creativity

“You have power over people Mrs Blakey. You can get everyone in the room to write. How do you do that?” asked Jason from Keon Park Primary.

“We belong to the force of Blakey” said Avril, a member of a small working group at Keon Park Primary School.

When writing or talking about the Soul Food Cafe one does have to keep in mind that its original purpose was not only to publish fun projects, for both primary and secondary school students that I was working with at the time but also to ensure that students had a readership. Primary school students who I met, years after I had worked with them told me that they still loved showing off work that had been published on the internet, back in the days when the internet was still youthful and uncluttered.

Colouring stories went down well with all ages. One favourite…

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Diverse Creative Projects at Bancroft

We have wandered roads together
played and learned and found each other
hand in hand the journey winds
through the back roads of memory
through the pathways of new learning
up the stairs where magic beckons
into caverns dark
and to the morning.
Waking we have joined the circle
glowing dawn forever holds us.
Fran Sbrocchi

Anita Marie Moscoso and Heather Blakey, each of whom have established themselves at Bancroft Manor, have been working collaboratively and spending some time Dansing with the Macabre. If you visit the site you will find that it is full of interesting stimuli and has lots of prompts that folk can work on in their journals.

When she is not off ‘Dansing with the Macabre’ or running a creative Lived Life Narrative course in Castlemaine, Heather Blakey is working in her apartment at the Manor, wandering down memory lane, remembering the times she travelled with a host of Soul Food patrons. She is busily putting together a retrospective of the decade when she created and managed the Soul Food Cafe.

Suzanne, who revels being in nature and had recently made Descansos, inspired by all the talk about visiting cemeteries “had the compelling urge to stop and take photos of stone angels“.

There are diverse spaces available at Bancroft and you certainly do not have to confine yourself to the Manor House. She hasn’t revealed her location yet but I assume that Raven’s Apothecary is located deep within the woods that are a part of the estate.

If you established yourself in space at on the estate what would it be like? What projects might you be inspired to undertake? Check out the Artist Loft in the Soul Food Cafe to see just what an interesting group of creatives found their way into the site.

Residing at Bancroft Manor

Are you brave enough to go into the woods at Bancroft Manor and meet with some of the darker residents who talented artists such as Brian Froud so imaginatively capture.

Perhaps you will join in and Danse with Macabre and use information you glean to write a dark dark fairy story.

All associated Bancroft Manor sites are free of pop-ups and advertising. Perhaps you will join, help to promote this creative collective and help us keep the sites free of corporate advertising. Or maybe you would like to extend the reach of your creative endeavours, whatever they may be, and, upon subscribing, secure a link featuring an image of your work. For details about joining check out the FAQ page.

Warm the Stone Artist

To highlight the therapeutic power of creativity

When you look for the person inside do you see a living, vibrant being or has your creative side been calcified and turned to stone by the ‘White Witch’. In The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe it is Aslan who miraculously revives the statues and infuses them with life. At Bancroft Manor, like its predecessor, the Soul Food Cafe, it is art and writing that warms the stone artist

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