After her stay with us as a Dolbryn Creative Retreater we asked Nana Ocran to write a short blog post about her experiences with us and on the Retreat, we feel the best way to share how our retreats work and their benefits to the creative and cultural sector is to let our Retreaters tell you about them rather than just me and Sion banging on about how great they are every day, so here's Nana's view of her Retreat back in December ........
A train, a bus and a van took me from London to rural West Wales just before Christmas last year. A little under five hours of seamless travel had me arriving at the Dolbryn Creative Retreat, situated in a tranquil, family-run campsite in Carmarthenshire. Here, off season, I took up a two-day residency which featured a substantial home-from-home lodge space, access to open grounds, a cosy brewery, views of starlit skies, and a generous 2-hour session of much needed conversation, mentoring and reflection on my creative practice.
To paraphrase part of a post I wrote at the time, there is a certain kind of magic in being able to provide an expansive mental and physical space for artists, curators, cultural producers, and a pretty much anyone who needs time to think and room to breathe in a reflective atmosphere that’s miles away from nonstop urban energy. This is what was provided to me, as an inaugural “Retreater”, by Creative Director David Edmunds and his partner Sioned. The couple live and work on the grounds and strike a fine balance of guiding your stay (friendly, clear and instructive emails or texts pre and post visit) while leaving you to soak up the Dolbryn energy by yourself.
This was West Wales mind, a few weeks before Christmas so it rained; a lot. That meant that a second-day walk and talk meeting was substituted with a cosy fireside chat, which felt pitch perfect for shedding some London vibes and dialling into a few creative blocks that have started to build.
There’s a lot to unpack about my practice, which is essentially the ongoing development of a digital platform as an archival repository for thoughts and ideas from emerging voices from Africa, with an additional plan to focus a similar lens on Latin America. The broad church of culture emanating from this creative project essentially (in David’s mind) revolves around me.
As an agent, a conduit and curator of the platform, a sense of fluidity is what he saw as way to invigorate the project – by spring boarding (through collabs, timelining and commercialising) the richly curated collection of stories and images that already exist. To chat organically about value, dreams, creative development and my curatorial voice needed, at a time of personal creative hiatus, to happen in a rural space that encourages new or often suppressed thoughts of collaboration and creative experimentation.
It's tough back in London, finding the same type of serenity, but the sense that the Dolbryn experience has added creative value and is now woven into to the story of my practice is priceless.
The retreat wasn’t about getting permission to dream, or even about a revolution of thoughts. This isn’t my biggest takeaway. It is much more about a generosity of spirit and a necessary recalibration of energy that makes Dolbryn a restorative experience that’s so worth tapping into – especially for us city dwellers who want to dream big or bigger. I‘m spreading the word on this one!
Some Images & All Text provided by Nana Ocran – Founder and Editor of People’s Stories Project.