In the Blake Cottage Trust’s Journal entry of two days ago, inconceivably titled “Treasures in Heaven”, the Trust claims that its “primary concern during our first year has been to safeguard the structure of the building while we move towards a full and complete restoration.”
First paragraph, first fresh lie. The BCT only managed to put in supports for stopping the thatched roof from collapsing more than a year after the Cottage was purchased. Throughout the BCT’s existence, its primary concern has been to deceive the public, to lie, and to hold on to a historical building and a project that don’t belong to them, manipulating information and abusing power.
The public and donors to the Cottage appeal must be reminded, over and over again, that the Blake Cottage Trust, set up in secret by the Chair of the Blake Society and consisting only of he and other two men, all of them with no previous experience in handling such a complicated project, all of them ambitious and who have repeatedly proved to be arrogant, unprincipled in everything that touches on this project and to have an enormous contempt for truth, is not the organism that we aimed at creating when we started the Cottage appeal – the large consortium of accountable individuals and organisations that we promised donors (actual and potential) and the public that we would create.
The intention of creating such a consortium had solid grounds behind it. Had it been set in place, funds would have continued to be raised effectively throughout the past year, the Cottage wouldn’t have deteriorated further, and all the lying and unscrupulous activity that have thrown so much mud in Blake’s direction would have been avoided. No one would have then been allowed to hijack and appropriate this beautiful project.
So when the BCT claims that it “is doing everything in its power to secure its future”, it is indeed lying, and with no little cynicism. It seems evident that they have some degree of power and so far are managing to be protected, at least locally in West Sussex. They also know how to wield their powerful firm of lawyers in order to intimidate people and try to tone down the press. But they do not care about the Cottage, and all they’ve been doing is engaging in low politics, intrigues and digging themselves deeper and deeper into a pit of unethical behaviour that will be extremely hard for them to climb out of.
Though it’s never too late. They can always own up to their mistakes, apologize to the public and donors, be part of the solution. Never too late, that is, unless the Cottage is completely ruined, in its material fabric and… well, spiritually, in the sense of “spirit” that Blake cared about and the reason why we initiated this project in the first place, in a time that seems now painfully distant, and innocent.
In an article appeared in the local press yesterday the Trust claims that”There has been a lot of speculation about the ultimate use of the cottage”, but there hasn’t been “speculation”. The misinformation has come from them and the Blake Society, and we have to remember that to this day they have never cared to make public their records of decision making or a consistent project for the Cottage.
As soon as it was purchased in September 2015, both organisms in fact disowned the original project, and denied that it had ever been a Blake Society project in the first place. In the Blake Society’s AGM in January this year Tim Heath, who chairs both the BS and the BCT, made the extraordinary, and insulting, claim that the appeal had succeeded because of its “lack of vision”, as if we hadn’t dedicated endless hours, endless days, entire chunks of our lives (as I certainly did) to articulate that vision.
If you go to the Documents section in this webpage you will find “A Vision for Blake’s Cottage”, a document I sent to both the BS and the BCT a year ago to remind them of the original project, and of their obligations, and asking to meet up with them and all parts involved and find a solution to so many conflicts. They arrogantly ignored that document, that plea and all my repeated attempts at communicating with them. During all this time and up to August this year, when they found out that an article about the Cottage was about to appear in The Sunday Times, they didn’t bother to make public any consistent plan for the Cottage, and only a few days before that article appeared the only thing they made clear was that they intended to rent out rooms in the Cottage for private guests. That intention appeared in their own website.
As soon as the Sunday Times article appeared, and a further comment in this blog, challenging that plan, they deleted that information from their webpage and now are making attempts to convince us that they mean to respect the original project, some way or another, though now they talk of that as a secondary purpose, which was never the case. We wanted to make of the Cottage a home for the dissenting imagination, and that meant for it to be a place for creation, for artists, authors and thinkers, including the creation of a House of Refuge for persecuted writers, all of those aims which would have indeed honoured Blake.
To do all that we needed, again, an accountable, trustworthy organism, the consortium we had promised to create. People who are serious about their work and respect the work of others, people who respect donors and their wishes. What kind of artists are these three people, who have done nothing but lie since they acquired the Cottage, going to invite, with what criteria or authority, and what good can come of it all now?
They have also lied to the local press in saying that it took “several years to raise the initial funds to acquire the Cottage”. It took little more than one year, and it is really about time that they stop manipulating information.
If you care to know what I mean by that please read the former entries in this blog, particularly that of 18 September regarding the extremely worrying lack of consistency in the Blake Society’s and Blake Cottage Trust’s financial information.
I am aware that there are other people campaigning for the Cottage to be repaired and accessible to the public. Up to that point, I agree, both things have to happen. But I want to make clear in this space that I am not attending any meetings organised by them and will not engage with them. One cannot clear up the prevailing confusion by adding more confusion, without having facts right, and with the same tactics of manipulating information and contempt for truth that we are supposedly protesting against, particularly when some of these people have their own agenda, including the rejection of the original project. I am playing no games. Nobody’s games.
Finally, I’ll just comment on the last paragraph of the Blake Cottage Trust’s entry in their Journal, that, in the circumstances, is both sanctimonious and cynical to a near pathological degree. Mr Heath quotes one of Blake’s favourite passages in the Bible: Lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt … for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
In a disturbing tendency of creating a revolving dialogue, or warning, or mockery that sometimes seems aimed at himself, Mr Heath seems to be pointing at the treasures he’s laying up. So far, regarding William Blake’s Cottage, Mr Heath’s actions, the reasons behind them, and the Blake Society’s and Blake Cottage Trust’s actions, in colluding with him and with a cover up, have been using and abusing other people, their work, their good intentions and their generosity; active and willful harm in fact of some of those people, with no little bullying involved; lying, appropriation of other people’s work and of a beautiful project worthy of Blake and of the donors who supported it; incompetence; abuse of power; meanness of spirit, arrogance, a depressing lack of human dignity and any sense of ethics; cowardice; a mockery of everything that Blake stood for in his life and through his work; the building up of the worst insult that Blake has received after his death… the heart of people who accumulate such frightful “treasures” is, I’m afraid, in the farthest possible place from Heaven.