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My First Bodge Job

posted 25 Apr 2011, 06:39 by Matthew Speakman   [ updated 25 Apr 2011, 06:41 ]


OK, it wasn't actually my first show but it was the first I’d done purely off my own back. Let me explain, I bodge in Whitefield, Bury courtesy of the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) and I’ve done a few small country fairs with them mostly as an enthusiastic volunteer with a few bits and bobs to sell, as a passenger in their van and, because they’re an environmental charity, getting a free stall. I’ve always enjoyed these events and had enough success to encourage me to have faith in what I’m doing.

Yesterday’s event, Chorlton’s Big Green Festival, was my first solo appearance, the official launch of, well, me and my local debut to boot and, let me be plain, it was a raging success and I loved it!


The event itself celebrates sustainability and various green issues and is usually a good show with maybe 50 stalls and apparently 6000 visitors last year and live bands playing through the day and into the evening.

On the day of the show, the sun came out and I was given a fantastic spot, things were looking good. People started to flow, and from this point, things seem to be a blur of smiling people, face-painted children, wood shavings and endless cash flowing through the hands of my truly wonderful assistant for the day. I was “in the zone”, no time for toilet breaks, food or anything other than making the kids smile with hazel flowers, (make your own bouquets, £7 a go) intriguing the smiling faces with captive rings and coping with the constant invites to other similar events, commissions, suggestions and contacts. So much so that if it wasn’t for my indefatigable assistant I would struggle to remember who any of these people were!

The day flowed smoothly, if whirlwinds can be said to flow, the people kept on coming, and kept giving us money and my energies were constantly supported by the never ending compliments and some of the most positive feedback I’ve ever received.

By the end of the day I realised all the stalls around me had packed away and all the people who’d been eyeing up my more expensive stools and my hazel armchair finally couldn't resist the temptation and had run off to the cash point. As we packed up, the bands continued to play and the people drank organic Perry into the night as I walked home to an early night after thoroughly enjoying the virtues of one of my foot massagers.

Looking back on this now its hard to convey the glut of strong emotion I’m left with, there have been times when I seriously doubted not just my ability but the ability of bodging in general to every be enough to support me, not just financially but in the ineffable ways that make a person feel complete or at least useful. But now all those endless hours making wood shavings and fodder for the charcoal burner alone under my tarp, make more sense than I ever thought they could. I’m immensely buoyed by the compliments, and lets not mince words here, the love. Yes, the love. I can plainly see the affection people have of my work, my rattles, spoons. stools and chairs even my door wedges. This, my craft, my(dare I say it? Yes) my art, literally my blood, sweat and tears can actually move other people, many other people in the same way it moves me.

I’m immensely grateful for all the help and support I’ve been fortunate to receive before, during and after this, the most successful day I’ve ever had and I’m now more committed than ever to bring the joys of bodging to Manchester. This event WILL be the first of many and I now, finally, for the first time in my life feel like I’m on my way to feeling complete and satisfied, or at least useful....

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