What happened with the Blake Cottage appeal
The Blake Society has been publishing some documents in its webpage: a “Felpham Cottage timeline”, “Minutes on Cottage” and “How the Cottage Funds were raised”, that attempt at defusing the concerns and questions that some of us have been addressing to both the Society and the Blake Cottage Trust. In particular, they’re trying to neutralize some of the concerns I have made known in this webpage and to the press.
Rather than being a contribution to the restoration of truth, dialogue and good will, these documents constitute a further manipulation of facts, with a fair share of false statements and concealment.
The Blake Cottage appeal started its public phase in 2014, and things started going wrong fairly soon. Since the first problems arose I have been trying to engage Mr Tim Heath, Chair of the Blake Society and now of the Blake Cottage Trust, the Blake Society Committee, then the Blake Cottage Trust once it was created, into a dialogue. That makes more than three years of unanswered calls for communication. I am not the only one who has been asking questions and making calls for dialogue that have been met with silence, disdain and contempt for truth. There are quite a few of us now.
For a long time I didn’t make public the whole story of what exactly went wrong in this sad affair and what was my experience of it, nor did I show the evidence I have. The first reason was that it would be a time-consuming endeavour, and I am very busy. The second, and perhaps the most important, was that it is a sad and rather unedifying story, woeful for those who love the work of William Blake. All this time I had been giving instead the BS and BCT Trustees many chances to prevent this from happening.
After the exhibition the Blake Society’s Committee made of their silencing tactics at their latest AGM, on 20 January 2017, and the publication of the documents mentioned above, I see myself in the need to explain clearly to the public what has happened, step by step, and show the relevant evidence. If I don’t do so, the BS documents, with their manipulation of facts, may make it appear to others as if it is me who is lying, even slandering, and I am not going to let that happen.
After I made public in my blog in this webpage what had happened at the 2017 AGM, the BS Treasurer Luis Garrido wrote to me and told me that “there is no need to go on resenting the past forever”. It is a very strange thing to say in regards to a disgraced public project and the deceit of some 700 generous donors, and it is making the problem personal. I have also been able to confirm that the Blake Society Trustees are slandering me, with a nasty load of sexism involved: they say that I am “a woman scorned”. If this is what these people are telling to others, perhaps even to themselves, to justify the baffling mismanagement, to say the least, of the Charities they are supposed to serve, and after my inexhaustible efforts at engaging with them, and everybody involved in the project, in a constructive dialogue, it becomes clear to me that they are out to cause me harm. Surely, they do so because they are scared, but still, I won’t let them do it. I will defend, and protect, myself.
Therefore, the present section of this webpage is dedicated to my testimony.
The story is long, convoluted, unpleasant, and probably with no interest for anyone who has not been involved in, or supported, the Blake Cottage project. It became a book-length document in eighteen chapters.
Unfortunately I couldn’t make a simple, concise narrative of events: because of the degree of dishonesty and the slandering involved, I saw myself in the need to include in this testimony all the evidence I have in the form of documents and correspondence, which will make the reading at some points repetitive. It may not be a pleasure to read, but it is a document that shows, to whoever cares to know, what happened exactly with the Cottage appeal, step by step; it shows that things have been very wrong indeed; that the Blake Society Committee always knew things were wrong and decided to ignore it, then collude, and that my actions have never been stirred by resentment or ill will.
To write this testimony has become a rather liberating process for me. Truth does that, and I know that its very existence is a contribution to the restoration of truth that will, in time, show its relevance.
The Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust know, and will remember as they read these documents, that I am telling the truth. At any point they can still say, to me and to all the people that they have used, harmed and betrayed, that they are willing to engage in an open, inclusive and truthful dialogue so that Blake’s Cottage becomes what we promised that it would be, finding solutions that are fair to all, and transparent to the public. That door, from my part at least, will always be open.
Antecedents of the Blake Cottage appeal. Mr Antony Vinall is introduced.
The Cottage appeal was always a Blake Society project, and our aim was always to create a large consortium of accountable individuals and organisations to run the Cottage.
Why I would leave the Blake Society. Mr Henry Eliot is introduced.
Mr Heath’s system of divide and rule. How the Big Blake Project was used then elbowed out.
Mr Heath disappears at the most crucial stage of the Cottage appeal. Involvement of his personal life in the appeal. Ms Paige Morgan is introduced. A reflection on scapegoating, power, a cover up and tribal behaviour as backbone to this testimony.
First big crisis in the Cottage appeal. Evil is hell.
Hell continues. A catatonic Committee.
I resign. A farcical negotiation. A grotesque document.
The crowdfunding appeal, centred around Mr Heath, and other ignominies.
Work on the appeal resumed in earnest. Reappearance of Mr Eliot and last moments of genuine collaboration, with some preparations of the further nastiness to come.
The last of my work for the appeal. Last Committee meeting. Hell renewed. The near disappearance of the Committee, as we prepared for the AGM.
Last struggles for transparency. More contraries in action as a response. Financial concerns. A last event in the Blake Society. A cowardly Committee. I leave the Cottage appeal.
The Cottage is purchased. The original project is disowned. The Cottage is appropriated by Mr Heath. An illegitimate Trust. The Blake Society, left in the dark. The Big Blake Project is elbowed out. Felpham angry.
The Blake Society Committee washes its hands off its responsibility for the Cottage appeal. They start to lie. A document to remind the BS and the Blake Cottage Trust of the original vision, asking for dialogue and to have truth restored.
Mr Eliot is rewarded. A wobbly Secretary. Some Blake Cottage Trust’s tricks under Mr Heath’s rule.
The Blake Society Committee: a commitment to corruption. A Treasurer’s admission. Much cunning. The 2016 AGM: lying to the Blake Society members, and an un-elected Committee. The new Secretary, Mr Vinall: a commitment to lying.
An “open day” in Blake’s Cottage and an attempt to trick the community in Felpham. I decide to go public. Famous benefactors. Infamous Trustees, and the making of a scapegoat.
The latest developments around Blake’s Cottage. The Blake Cottage Trust’s lack of a consistent project and plans for a new building. The Blake Society’s and BCT’s extensive lying to the public. Muddled finances. Futile attempts of dialogue. The disrepair of the Cottage. Some conclusions.