Tales of Personal Development at the HoBB

butthope bunnyTitania at the HoBB

Just when I thought my days as a travelling farmer were behind me, I found myself embarking on a trip to Wales.

The Welsh countryside is lush with verdant vistas where nights are as silent as the beginning of Time and days were quiet enough to hear bumblebees suckling the nectar of a bloom.

By the border of England and Mid-Wales, tucked in a cosy nook behind a maze of single-track lanes, lay the HoBB. It was a place that became my refuge for a short moment in time, a sanctuary from the crowds, noise, and technology that afflict urbanites like myself. I came with no expectations save to do a bit of gardening, construction work, and the usual fare that comes with WWOOF-ing.  And that I did.

Each day presented a new challenge for this city journalist who has barely swung a hammer in her life and who lacks the practicality to deal with any more tools than a pen and paper.

Home to Grant and Helen – never a warmer or more genuine couple will you find – the HoBB provided a space for an individual to find their creative self and discover ways they can etch their own contribution to the world.

These discoveries do not come by chance. Nor do they appear simply by showing up at the gates of the HoBB*. They were spurred on by my hosts, Grant and Helen. He, a constant energetic ball of sparks and popping champagne fizz, while she is of the effervescent laugh and homecooked delicacies. With their background as designers, they have a discerning eye, an unrivalled vocabulary of hues and whimsical natures, yet grounded by their strong connection with and respect for the earth.
[*You have to book your time at the HoBB in advance – They do not accept casual visitors.]

The HoBB is a place of creativity and collaboration between the hosts and their volunteers. Examples of both abound, from the rustic doggie gate I helped finish, that was started by a Spanish volunteer called Sergio, to the home-made bread that we devoured heartily for lunch, from the stone forge that was a feature of the HoBB gardens to the miniature elf houses created out of pebbles, twigs, and empty almond shells.

Grant did not waste a single minute. I was shown the best way to handle and use almost every tool in the garden shed. Learning new things was not always a lengthy procedure. There were tasting sessions, such as the 5 minutes spent learning how to use a lawnmower or the one chainsaw blade I sharpened.

Enlightenment was not reserved for the physical either. I discovered which shade of a Welsh sunset was pale puce and that the intention behind every thing we create as humans, even making something as commonplace as coffee or tea for another person, can make all the difference in the outcome and the product.

Each day, I awoke to new challenges, both physical and mental. Out in the field, I found my mind sluggish. After years of using the mental muscle, flexing the physical and understanding the practicalities of nature and physics did not come naturally to me. My attempts at carpentry and woodwork led to a broken gate hinge, a bent drill bit and many a nail hammered in the most unusual angles. But thanks to Grant’s watchful eye and guidance, I was left relatively unscathed by the end of my sojourn, save for a random wasp sting.

Evenings at the HoBB were a return to old-fashioned homeliness, reminiscent of the days where families still sat around the fireplace, put on their favourite raspy vinyl, and talked with each other. Supper was a home-cooked meal that Helen lovingly slaved over all afternoon  in her sunlit kitchen. I recall one evening, after dining to the zestful strains of Bohemian Rhapsody, we supplied our own entertainment by bursting into song, belting out the hits from My Fair Lady. And another, playing a vinyl LP of The City Waites playing Medieval Pub songs – after hearing the band live in concert playing on Medieval instruments in Ludlow.

In the era of technology and television, it seemed other-worldly but there we were, connecting with each other as human beings and not as humans to a machine as is now the norm. What was the norm at the HoBB was laughter. It was akin to being a child again where days were carefree and cheeky giggles ubiquitous.

Time slowed down at the HoBB. But I did not perceive slowing down as a sin as I would have in the city. I allowed myself to slow down and to literally smell the roses. I could walk leisurely enough to spot a snail in my path and put it out of harm’s way or stick my head up in the highest branches of a tree and see the world from the perspective of a pigeon or dove or owl. I could laze and think about what lay in the thoughts of sheep as they bleated and grazed in the nearby field.

There was no pressure from anyone to quicken the pace. All I received from my hosts was patience and an openness and acceptance I find myself wishing every child can receive from their parents or mentors. If a child were a flower, they would bloom at the HoBB.

So as my train chugged back to London and I left my hosts on the platform, I did not feel sad. I felt grateful. Grateful to have met Grant and Helen, for them to have opened their heart and home to me, and imparted their nuggets of wisdom for me to pocket on the rest of my life’s journey.

My momentous moments at the HoBB …

* carved the “Butthope Bunny” totem out of Hawthorne wood for the sheep post (image above)
* uprooted and replanted “underdog” bulbs
* learnt Grant’s special “fisherman’s knot”
* fixed a sheep gate for farmer Colin and his sheep
* mixed cement
* laid down bricks and insulated a potting shed with re-cycled insulation board, staples, nails, hammer and chicken wire
* drew up a blueprint for a dog bod, complete with electricity points, doors and windows
* finished a rustic doggie gate started by another WWOOFer
* trawled the local pubs with Grant and Helen, chugging down Stowford Press Cider from Herefordshire
* stood inside the hollow of a 300-year-old yew tree and caressed one that was 2,700-years-old
* attended a storytelling session at Bishops Castle
* dined with archaeologists specializing in the Roman period
* went on a Sunday excursion to Acton Scott historic working farm and milked a fibre-glass cow
* learnt to sharpen the blade of a chainsaw, mow the garden, and how to use a pick axe properly
* explored the small market town of Knighton, Powys
* spotted a sheep-shaped measuring tape in Knighton’s one wool shop
* did a lightning tour of Ludlow led by rapid-fire guide, Grant
* had tea and cakes at an old-fashioned English tea house in Leominster
* learnt how to use a manual and machine jig saw, and how to drill a hole properly
* learnt when to use a nail and when to use a screw
* visited one of the oldest fortified manor house in England, Stokesay Castle
* assisted Jan Walmsley in creating a Facebook page of her 630 miles Round Wales Coast Walk to help raise funds and support for the Knucklas Castle Community Land Project
* tasted the most delectable and tender Black Welsh Mountain lamb.

More tales of Personal Development at the HoBB >

IMAGE OF LEARNING. Project launched 1995





Area of Work

Opening thoughts and devising projects on the subject of Good Quality CLOSURE


Life is a race at a fairly fast pace. It needs to be continually studied as ‘answers’ keep evolving. Few, if any, have all the answers but through  learning new ways to question, personal understandings can be reached more easily. The image of learning, as Deep Thought knew, lies in asking the right question. And the image of understanding comes from not jumping to fixed conclusions.

There are many groups in the World for individuals to join.  Each group defines its own rules to confine its members.  Most of the time, these groupings get along fine, but now and again, a clash between group ideals occurs, conflict erupts and people get hurt emotionally and physically.

The one central global problem creating conflict is ‘poor quality closure’. In essence, this is people jumping to conclusions based on low understandings, history-rooted attitudes,  rumours,  poor judgements and old-time creeds.

Before the advent of print and the World’s ability to spread its many different ‘teachings’, disparate ideas proliferated.  Print distilled these ideas. The internet speeds this distillation process but it is slow going because we are all still trying to negotiate a shared way through such a vast legacy of learnings.

Image of Learning  [Combined BIOS]

Its co-founders Peter and Grant, share an interest in Closure.

They met at the University of Central England whilst Peter was studying Art [Practical] M.A.  Visual Communication. (Thesis: Closure) after working as a teacher following an Education [Theoretical] B.A.  (Open University ) Arts & Humanities.

Their first three papers were:

‘The Value of Closure’
‘The Elements of Sequential Art’
The ‘Use of ‘Story’ within the Educative Process’

CPD (Continual Professional Development):

‘Management Development & Team Leadership’ [Beeches College]

‘Computing Software :  QuarkXpress; Photoshop’  [Bournville College]

‘Print Making’          [Birmingham Print Workshop]

‘TV / Video Prod Course’   [Birmingham University]

‘Web Design’            [Inst. of Art and Design, University of Central England]

‘TV Prod Course’       [Selly Oak School]

‘Business Funding’     [Birmingham Chamber of Commerce]

‘Business Marketing’  [University of Aston in Birmingham, Small Business Centre]

‘Pottery Course’.         [Bournville College]

‘Educational Dance’    [Midland Arts Centre]

‘Digital Publishing:  Adobe Illustrator; Freehand’. [Aston ITEC]

‘Team Leadership – Live Wire Business Growth Challenge’ [Aberdovey Outward Bounds Centre]

‘Calligraphy Course’    [Midhurst School]

‘Writing in Education’ [Winterbourne College]

‘Public Speaking and Chairmanship’    [Birmingham School of Speech & Drama]

‘Peter Pan (Set Construction and acting). Wuthering Heights (Set Design)                 [Crescent Theatre, Birmingham]

‘Storytelling’ [Aberystwyth University. Lifelong Learning]

‘Writing for Sound’   [Aberystwyth University. Lifelong Learning]


Clients include:

Birmingham City Council: Visualisation of the City Pedestrianisation Scheme,

Design of Educational Visitor Centre in Ireland (Peat Workings)

Designs for School Literature in six languages for Swedish Paper Manufacturer

Digital Imagery adaptations for Ikon Gallery with Matt Fisher and Chris Stirrup

Birmingham:  Digital Imaging & Animation Prog. Design, supported by Photopack/  West Midlands Arts

Handsworth:   Opportunity to explore numeracy through sound, story, role play, icons, art, movement ; in conjunction with Birmingham Education & Business Partnership

Whitton School: Illuminating and Re-writing their  ‘300 years in the making’ during Big Arts Week.

Bordesley Green:  Out of School Hours extracurricular Workshops on Survival

Lee Bank:   Strengthening Community  through documenting & dissemination  – Human Facilities Management

Robin Hood School : Self-empowerment  – ‘Mind over Mouse’ Part of ‘Teachers and Artists  Working Together Scheme’.

Trainer/ Employer for Schools ‘Work Placement Schemes’

YTS Trainer/Employer – design and implementation of an extensive on the job training Scheme in Creative Technical Imaging.

Folio and Career Surgeries for individual Art and Communication degree Students through B.I.G.

IT skill ‘Return to Work’ Training for volunteers from Birmingham Volunteers Bureau

Freelance Storyboarding Pop Videos/ TV Commercials/ Print


Combined bio of Peter & Grant prior to launch of “Image of Learning”

1965:  Produced First 8 mm Animated Films (Fun Animation Projects)

1974 – 1999  Teaching 25 years  [Year 1 to Year 6]

Special Needs E2L Imparting Active Teaching

Subject Range: Art; Craft; Science; Health;

Literacy & Language; Mathematics; Sport

Mentoring 19 to 21 Years

1974 – 1980 :  Mariculturist

1976:  Partner: Ginger Man Studios (Arts and Crafts Designers)

1977:  Lyricist for S.Wales Rock Group ‘Calix’

1978:  Co-founder, Chair and Trustee Reg. Educational Charity ‘World of Water’

1983:  Founded ‘Think Tank’. Thinking with action on people’s aims.

1983 – 84  Promoter for DJ ‘Trevor T’ and TVRT Recording Studios

1983 – 1996 Graphic Authoring; Story Boarding; Cartoons;  Illustration; Art; Design; Print; Workshops

1983   Format Design for TV Series: : Prog. pitch to BBC TV (Michael Garrod/ Continuing Education Department)

1986:  Joined Griffiths Reaney Design Associates – Interior Designers

1987:  Co-Founder and Director of Design Workshop (Architects and Interior Designers)

1988:  Guest Lecturer, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of Central England

1989:  Founding Director of Hickton Madeley Interiors

1992:  Authored stage play ‘KK & GM’ for Crescent Theatre, Birmingham.

1992:  Director of MacLaren Marketing, Wolverhampton. UK

1993:  Founder of imprint ‘Little People Books’

1993:  Co-Founder and Director of ‘Karavadra Multimedia’


Combined bio from launch of ‘Image of Learning’ in 1995

1995:  Launch of  ‘Image of Learning’

1996:  Creative Director : MIPF (Midlands Independent Production Forum based at VIVID) Film:  “10/34” for B’ham Film Festival

1996:   Web Site Design and Gallery Installation of  ‘The Nine Tenets’. First  Café Surf in Birmingham, UK.

1996:   Authored: ‘Ring in the New’ Animation short pitched to British Film Institute / VIVID

1996:   Authored: Prog. toon series pitch to Sky TV (The Alterers)

1999:  Launched ‘The HoBB Project House’ UK

1999:  Co-refereed the successful ‘Art and the Internet’ Millennium Bid with Liz Macgregor, Ikon Gallery.

2000 – present:  Manager. The HoBB Project House



Combined Publications & Reports:

Harrier Comics

The e-brain (1994)

Eddy Champion Comic (1995)

AV Producer: ‘Tapman and Pluggy’, with the support of Education Dept., Severn Trent Water. 1995 (See also: Case Study No. 7)

Medieval Pond Culture (with Casey, A.)

Elf early reading book series

Experience of Materials and their Application:

Clay sculpt;   Plaster reliefs;   Plasters in Construction; Concrete (carving), Living Willow; Stone walling.  (See Natural Materials); Scale and perspective drawing; Papier Mache (puppets); Metal (sculpt); Wood (constructions); Water Colour Paints / Inks;


Television Interviews:   1984 OB with Dan Cherrington (BBC Research History of Monastic Carp Culture);

Live at BBC Pebble Mill at One (OB Fresh Fish Buying)

Guest Radio Slots:    Radio WM (Phone-in);   BRMB (Interview);   Radio Bristol (Phone-in)

Community Radio:    BHBN.

 Exhibitions and Performance Events:

1979 – 1980:     ‘Piscatorial Memorabilia’, (Exhibition) Aber-Gwen Visitor Centre, South Wales

1982 – 83:  “The History and Future of Aquaculture” (Exhibition) Nature Centre (Birmingham Museum  & Art Galleries)

1982:    Watercolour Paintings of the Built Environment, Birmingham Midland  Institute

1982:    ‘When Santa met Neptune’, (Performance poetry) Rackhams, Birmingham

1983:    Future of Aquaculture, Brighton Exhibition and Conference Centre, Sussex

1983:   Hellensborough Museum,  (Aquaculture Exhibition), Scotland

1983:   Dumbarton Museum & Libraries, (Aquaculture Exhibition),

1983:   ‘Enviromental Awareness’ Exh. in conjunction with Whirligig Theatre Co.  Alexander Theatre.

1983   Who’s Book is it Anyway, Birmingham Nature Centre

1997   Water on the Beach, (Performance Storytelling) Brighton (Part of High Tide Event)

1996   ‘Inspector Clue Bod Investigates’ Birmingham City Council Discovery Day

1985:   ‘The Water Palace’, Central Library, Birmingham

1986:   Wednesbury Art Gallery & Museum, (Aquaculture Exhibition), Wednesbury

1986:   Art Gallery, (Exhibition) Rugby Library, Rugby

1986:   ‘Wet Harvest’, (Aquaculture Exhibition), The Bass Museum, Burton-on-Trent

1986:   Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, (Aquaculture Exhibition), Coventry

1986:   Warwickshire  Museum, (Aquaculture Exhibition), Warwick

1987:   City Museum & Art Gallery, (Aquaculture Exhibition), Stoke-on-Trent

1991:   ‘The influence of Fish in Design’, Birmingham Midland Institute.

1992:   Alternative Perspectives, Mine Gallery, Birmingham

2005:   ‘Working with Nature’, HoBB Gardens, Heyope.

2008:   ‘Retrospective’  WoodBod, HoBB Project House

2015:   ‘Concrete Sculpt’, HoBB Gardens, Heyope.
Group Exhibitions:

* University of Central England,
* Lichfield Guild Hall
* International Convention Centre

1992:   ‘Friends Show’, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery, Birmingham.

1993:   ‘Plant Crossing’, Botanical Gardens Gallery, Birmingham

1993:   Choice Gallery, Birmingham

1995:   Earth Centre, Conisborough

1996:   Brighton Festival

1996:   The Nine Tenets of Tomlinson and Jessé, Café Surf, Birmingham

1996:   ‘Who’s Book is it Anyway’, Part of Birmingham Readers & Writers Festival

 Online Interactive Evolvement:

1999:   Nine Tenets Part 11. Writings to accompany the work of OliverTomlinson. See “Finding a Match”

2000:   ‘Contemporary Italian and Spanish graphic design and folk art on Citrus Fruit Wrappers from 1930’s’

2002    ‘The Art of it’. Online writings to remember the work of the Late Jonathan Inglis.

2004   BIG ARTS WEEK  Case Study 01

Commissions: (abridged):

Birmingham City Council Landscape Practice, B.B.C., Central Independent Television, Austin Knight Advertising, Black Country Development Corporation, Black Theatre Co-operative, Bugle Films Ltd., Cadbury Schweppes (Case Study No. 3), Centro, Custard Factory (Digbeth), Forward Trust, Freestyle Productions, Gillette, GKN, Granada Leisure, Groundwork, Healthy Birmingham 2000, Ilford Photo Ltd., Jaguar, King Edward VI Foundation, Kokuma Dance Theatre Company, Letts Educational (Case Study No.4), MEB, Mercia Sound, Midland Bank, Morrison Developments (Case Study No.5)Royal Mail (Case Study No.6), SCS (Specialist Computer Services), Structured Training, Switch Design, Tibbatts Interior Design Group, Training and Creative Resources, West Midlands Travel. (Full List available on Request) 


NAA (National Association of Artists)

NUT (National Union of Teachers)

BAT (Birmingham Arts Trust)

VIVID (Formerly Birmingham Centre for Media Arts)

BEAF  (Birmingham Educators and Artists Forum)

1988: Hon. Member of European Society of Perspectivists

1992 – 1995 Crescent Theatre: Set Design, Theatre Marketing.

1995  National Small Press Association

1996 – present: Acting Secretary of “Birmingham Image Generators’

1996:  Steering committee of the HUB (Birmingham)

1998:  Birmingham Education Arts Forum (BEAF)

1996: Book Packagers Association

1998: Article 31 Action Network

2001 “Grwp Amineiddwyr Cymru” (Welsh Animation Group, Cardiff)

2000 “Creative Network” University of Central England

2004 “WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)

2005 “PAF” (Powys Arts Forum)

2008 – present  “HelpX” (Global Student Skill Exchange)

If we should know about YOUR Organisation, please contact us    


NEW from Image of Learning:

Producing original, bespoke writing, graphics, photography and illustration for AR (Augmented Reality) projects

The Image of Leaning project continues to grow. We welcome views and contributions. These can be sent via comments or presented live for discussion during workshop sessions at the HoBB Project house. Contact us for available dates.

Page 1 of 131234567891011...Last»