For 11 months, since Blake’s Cottage was acquired, the Blake Cottage Trust has been repeatedly asked for transparency and public accountability. They have been challenged about their disowning of the original project for the Cottage and their illegitimacy as a three-person Trust chaired by Tim Heath.
For 11 months they have not deigned to respond to these legitimate concerns and have not felt that they owed to the public any explanation about what they have been doing, why, or what they plan to do with the Cottage that they have allowed to fall in disrepair.
Then, this week, Mr Heath found out that this matter is about to become public in a more serious way.
So a couple of days ago, at last, the Blake Cottage Trust has deigned to put some more substantial information in their webpage, with some attempt at recovering the original project that they have all along been denying ever existed, as can be seen in the Blake Society’s AGM minutes. Apparently Mr Heath is now suddenly admitting also that the BCT needs indeed more Trustees – something they have arrogantly denied, when indeed they have cared to address the matter at all, up to … well, two days ago.
These last minute tactics of manipulation are not new. When I raised my concerns about the Cottage to the BCT and the BS in November 2015, they didn’t deign to answer either. Then in January this year, a couple of days before the AGM I informed some of the Blake Society Trustees that I would attend and speak out. The result? On the very eve of the AGM they all sent me a clumsy appeasing letter, rich in false statements, in which they yet again praised me and my work, thanked me profusely, and signed with “their love”.
They should have learnt by now that such tactics simply do not work. They have been asked for transparency and accountability in a public project, not to play games. It is interesting to note though, that Mr Antony Vinall, the Blake Society’s new Secretary, has told me in person several times that “Tim likes to play games”. This is the same Secretary who now lies so freely, even in minutes, and denies having ever objected to Mr Heath’s lack of ethics. It seems everybody in these two Charities loves to play games.
So now at last the Blake Cottage Trust has made public its governing constitution. I think I should remind the public about what that document really is:
- A governing document produced by Mr Heath alone, with the help of his lawyers, and with no validity as a Cottage Trust constitution, as it embodies the actual appropriation of the Cottage project by Mr Heath. He did this entirely on his own in October 2014, there were no other Trustees involved. He did this precisely when his probity was being questioned. He did this actively hiding from his fellow campaigners and fellow Blake Society Trustees. He decided on his own what the BCT’s powers would be (including the chance of annual sums towards the provision of pensions for the Directors). This is no public Trust’s document. It is Mr Heath’s means of stealing the Cottage appeal.
Now let’s talk about the BCT’s sudden awakening of their memory, acknowledging that there was a project after all about turning the Cottage into a centre for creation, and not the project “with no vision at all” behind it they have been invoking up to this week.
In their webpage, the BCT claims: “…they can elect to become Friends of the Cottage and thereby receive the gifts that will be made by the resident artists (writers, musicians, painters, printmakers, &c) who will find refuge or respite in the Cottage while it is not being occupied by paying guests.” A couple of clarifications:
- Those of us who created the project never thought of a scheme that would privilege the Trust’s members with art work created in the Cottage. The works would go out into the world for all to enjoy and appreciate. This scheme resembles a lot Mr Heath’s scheme of twenty-odd years ago for Fellows of his Institute of Imagination in South Molton Street – a project defined in both grandiose and vague terms that failed, and has in fact never existed as such. We can’t allow the same to happen to a public project – the Cottage -, and that is why the BCT has to become the consortium that gathers enough people with proper expertise and vision that we promised to create.
- The Cottage as a centre for creation was always the main purpose of our project, and what people supported. It was never meant to be an accessory scheme glued to a Blakean sophisticated B&B, with “paying guests” being privileged as a priority. In short, the project never aimed at people “sleeping in Blake’s bed”.
- As stated above, the Blake Cottage Trust has only yielded to the pressure of nearly a year of acknowledging the original project they have formerly disowned, on the very week in which they’ve found out this affair may soon become widespread known. This follows in the pattern of Mr Heath, the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust of having broken every single promise made to the public and every single work arrangement so far and lying their way through when under pressure. They are not to be trusted. None of the two Charities has honoured so far any of its public commitments regarding the Cottage.
Finally, I’d like you to read this excerpt from a document produced by myself in March 2014, the first articulation in writing of what we wanted for the Cottage to be when we started work on the campaign:
“The function of the Cottage’s open door could be interesting. What if the emphasis shifts from a door open for people to get in, to one open so that the fruits of Imagination go out? Thought of as Los’s forges, the Cottage’s physically finite centre can become an infinite source of energy made manifest through creation, in the arts and literature, in thought, in mental fight for freedom, in true science.”
Back then the Chair sent me an email to state how much he liked my idea about that open door. The idea is repeated in my notes for the launch of the campaign in Parliament in Summer 2014:
“We don’t want people to simply come in, look around then leave, but rather for it to be a place where people think, project and create. It would have an open door, but the emphasis would shift from a door open to draw in, to one open to give out.”
Now read what the Blake Cottage Trust said in their webpage two days ago (I have the screenshot, just in case they decide to change it):
“But more fundamental than size is our aspiration not to be measured by the numbers who come in through the front door, though these are important, but rather by the measure of what comes out of that door – a stream of creativity, prophecy and imagination.”
One of the many concerns about the handling of Blake’s Cottage is how Mr Heath, and by extension his Cottage Trust, has stolen other people’s work. That refers to the Big Blake Project and, of course, to myself. Mr Vinall also told me in September 2015, when I met up with him and his wife Christina to tell them of my concerns about what Mr Heath had done: “I know that the fruits of your work have been stolen, and that other people are taking the credit”.
After all this time, and all the bitterness unleashed by Mr Heath’s lack of ethics and the collusion of the Charities he chairs, after he stole indeed the fruits of my work as well as those of other people’s, after I have denounced him for doing that precisely, he still chooses to use my work in order to try to manipulate the public.
As for his in-jokes, I won’t comment on them, I will just remind Mr Heath that this is no personal matter of his: this is a public project, its concerns are public concerns, his lack of ethics are injuries to the public who has supported that project.
I have called Mr Heath, the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust before, repeatedly, for respect and care for people and their work, respect and care for the Cottage. I am asking for that respect yet again.
Whatever they may think, I am sure that all those who know, love and understand Blake would agree: this is no game.