Every year, the Clore Leadership Programme takes on an intern from King’s College London during the summer months. This year, Jeff Liu (MA in Art and and Cultural Management) joined the Clore Team in helping with the day-to-day coordination of the second Bore Place Residential. The Bore Place Residential takes place in Kent over a two-week period, and is a key part of the Clore Fellowship programme - as it is held twice, at the beginning and the end of the Fellowship. We asked Jeff to write a short article detailing the Bore Place experience from his perspective.
(Or alternatively titled; Where was I for ten days, is this real life, and what do I do now? )
Where was I for ten days? I’ve just returned from being in Kent for 10 days, a mere 45 minutes outside of London, feeling overwhelmed and confused about the experience that I just had. In the days that immediately followed, I imagined haunting the grounds of the half farm, half farm-style estate, like I had lived there for years. I can still hear the crunch of the gravel as I walked between the old farm stables where I slept, to the main house where we gathered for breakfast and reflections in the morning. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there is a distinct smell to Bore Place, which if I ever encounter again will probably bring back a flood of memories that might otherwise be forgotten. I still remember how delightfully close to nature I felt, when eating fresh farm eggs outside in the green grass by the pond, birds chirping (did you know that Bore Place produces almost 1.5 million litres of milk per year?). I think about the long walk along the public footpaths that led through grass and wheat fields, feeling jealous of those who grew up in the English countryside. Perhaps most of all I think about the whirlwind of learning that took place – learning about leadership, about what is possible within the arts and culture, about those who are making those things happen, and learning about myself.
Is this real life? The first day, busy with the activity of arriving Clore Fellows was just a precursor to the rest of the time-bending madness to follow. The schedule of speakers consists of one or two learning sessions during the day, and an evening session that seems like a more casual conversation. The day sessions range from a series of practical and challenging “what would you do?” real life scenarios (presented by the people who went through them), to informative and thought-provoking discussions and presentations by those who are actively leading and changing the sector. The evening sessions were more personal in tone and setting, with (usually one) speaker, sitting in front of the (unlit) fireplace, being incredibly open and honest about their successes and failures - sharing the challenges and experiences, not just about being “leaders”, but being people, first and foremost, who lead. I wish I had an eidetic memory, so that at any time in the future I could call upon and remember the fascinating and inspirational lessons that came from these sessions. Without fail, every session would provoke many questions and reflections, showing how engaged the fellows were – not content to just listen and accept things as they are. The learning was intense.
The meals were great, shared outside on long picnic tables, like between a giant family. The atmosphere and environment, pleasant and quiet, were so different from the madness of London. A community of sharing and learning was underpinning it all. Everyone was there both to share and to learn, in an open way that seems so uncommon these days. Every night left me exhausted and pinching myself, as a reminder to enjoy and take in this incredible opportunity.
What do I do now? This is a difficult question to answer. Why is this the particular question that I ask myself after this experience? Because I’ve just been inspired. Not just by the wonderful speakers, who’ve just shared their invaluable wisdom and knowledge from being cultural leaders and making change. But also from the people that I’ve just spent the last 10 days with. I’ve just been inspired by the Fellows, who are not there to just follow in the footsteps of those who have done it before, but to lead authentically in their own way based on their own values. Like Hannah, who inspired everyone to make pledges towards helping the environment, and keep in mind that cultural organizations can be leaders in this aspect as well. Like Miranda, who reminded everyone to keep in mind their responsibility towards those who are less heard and less fortunate at all times. I wish I could have spent more time with all of them to learn about what makes each and every one of them tick.
I’ve also been inspired by those at the Clore Leadership Programme that I’ve been lucky enough to work with for the past few months. It’s one thing to see them in an office environment, and quite another to see them in action, where their passion for the arts and caring for others really comes out. These are people who spend all their time supporting others quietly behind the scenes, rarely getting the attention they deserve. Bore Place was an opportunity to get to know them better, and I’ve come to admire all of them much more, for all they do because they are truly passionate about helping people grow.
What I’ll do for now, is try to remember how inspired I am. As someone who is trying to find his own way, not just in the arts and culture, but in life, the experience was something that made me think differently about what I want to do and why. I know now that the questions of what I want to do and why are not the first questions I should be asking myself – the first question should be, what kind of person am I? The answer to this, which I am still finding out (perhaps a bit late), is what should inform the answers to the other questions. I’ve learned that who I am as a person, my personal values, are the things that will shape what it is I end up doing. Like the Fellows, the speakers, and the people from Clore that I’ve worked with – everything they do and work towards come from the core of who they are. Thanks to Bore Place, Clore, and the Fellows, I’m on my way to figuring that out myself.