Last night was the opening night of the degree show at Edinburgh College of Art, where Charlie's film about Aran, Mutonia and his life was presented for the first time. I'm itching to see the film, as I'm sure many are! Charlie gave me permission to share a few production stills, and here are a few of my favourites. You can read more about the development of the film and Charlie's perspective over on her Tumblr blog.
Yesterday also bought news on the Yard too - the long awaited planning permission that the community needs to stay here forever has been approved.
The Yard is now officially a public sculpture park (come artistic/alternative/green working/living museum)
Although the 100% demolition order was revoked back in February, it was done so on the understanding that the planning order was going ahead. All authorities involved had given their consent, however it took quite some time to get all the boxes ticked and everything in writing, and that left the community vulnerable. An appeal was lodged mid April against the annulment of the demolition order, with the intent to reinstate it, and 29th May sees everyone (our lawyer and the council) in court to defend. Now that the planning order has been fully approved and everything is in writing, there's no reason the appeal shouldn't be won.
This week should also see the signing of the new contracts for this now very official place. Until the court day has passed and those contracts are signed I suspect there won't be the sense of relief that I think there ought to be, but nonetheless, gaining this planning permission and everything that comes along with it - including the protection by government authorities as a 'point of specific cultural interest' - is worthy of celebration.
Laws and attitudes as they are make living like this exceptionally difficult. When you don't live in a house or a flat or something else made of bricks and mortar, you tend to fall between the cracks. The double decker was reported as a fixed structure, and therefore an abusivo, simply because it is lived in. The fact that the electricty cable can be unplugged, and the fact that it's on wheels and has an engine and actually runs and is a vehicle and is the very opposite of a fixed structure is a concept the law struggles with. At least, that's my perspective. The double decker may be too costly to drive very far or very often, but she can still drive away and leave no trace, which can't be said of a house.
This particular legal battle has run for two years, and is one of the most challenging the Yard has faced in it's 23 year history. It's been a very difficult journey for all involved, especially for those who have liased with the lawyer and the geologist and the council and the whole team of supporters on a regular basis. Many thanks are owed to everyone who has helped reach this point.
The Yard has been settled for a long time now. People have put down roots; many children have grown up here over the years and have moved on. The new planning permission makes the settled nature of the site official.... what started as a community with a want to live outside of the usual rules has in my mind become, well, assimilated. This has been happening progressively over the years, yet somehow, to me at least, these new contracts bring that to reality.
Don't get me wrong - everyone is over the moon that they've won their right to stay, even with the strings attached. Communities like this rarely win, particularly in Europe where unfortunately there's still an unacceptable level of intolerance and prejudice towards outsiders and nomadic people. And the strings themselves aren't there to strangle.
A precedent has been set.
There's a lot of work to do over the coming months, and folk have already made a start. The Yard is looking a lot tidier, and now that there's hope, they'll find the energy to get creative again.