Words and pictures by Lara Platman
From living in the bustling London community of Shoreditch to finding happiness on a plot of Cotswold land. I look back on the journey to discover how I got here.
Every now and then you take stock of your life and reflect on what you have achieved and what dreams you may be planning. I only really do this when my birthday occurs and it takes me by storm. I often wonder, ought I to reflect a little more often, plan a little more frequently – in order to calm that storm somewhat?
This year was a big one, not necessarily in age (although penultimate year before midlife), but with a huge storm that overcame me on my birthday. I sat amongst what I think I had achieved – my new plot of land.
Had I envisage buying a plot of land? No! Had I dreamed of building a house? No! So where did this suddenly appear from? Surely subconsciously I had always dreamed of building a house on farmland? My reflection of life opened up a flurry of mind boggling thoughts of when and where did this all begin and I have to admit………… I know exactly where!
You can create something from nothing
I was very fortunate growing up with parents who always supported me no matter what. With a good education at school I also learnt from the craftswomen and men they employed in their theatrical dresswear hire business. I learnt the basics of my ethos, ‘you can create something from nothing’.
From a thread you can create a dress, from a shoebox you can create a photograph, from a paintbrush you can create a piece of art, from a spanner you can create a car and so it goes on.
I went through life making things. Confused as to why people bought things readymade, thinking that surely to make the item is more worthy and better quality to hold than a mass produced item. To this day my strong belief is that handmade wins.
The house that Lara built?
So here I am, sitting at the mill race edge that runs through my plot of land with a view to building a house (I will be project manager and have skilled contractors actually build the house). It seems to me that I sublimely planned this. Let’s go back a step and see.
I took a Fine Art and Photography degree. Set up as a photographer. Travelled with my camera. Left London for a commission on the Isle of Harris to create a book about Harris Tweed. Came back to London and needed to leave almost straight away. Moved to the countryside (with relative distance to London) and set up home. Missed the buzz of the city and the photographic studio I shared. Set up a workshop at a stable yard with at least some kind of community. And here is where I pick up my current story.
Navigating the child gap in a 1964 Land Rover Series 2a
I bought a Land Rover. Living in the countryside allowed for this and I have always been interested in cars, (I have a race licence, ride a motorbike and photograph cars). I knew I would be able to service it too. Splitting up with a boyfriend at a really precarious age of “Oh shit I have missed out on having a baby”, I decided to restore it and take exactly 9 months to do so. 9 months turned to 19, the gestation period of an elephant rather than a human, my car was born.
The owner of the farm where I rented my workshop, soon saw my dedication for creating and completing something. He offered me the plot of land I was working in, to which before I could even complete a thought…
“Oh my god yes I would love to have this!” Spurted out of my mouth.
Growing into myself
And there you have it. No planning as such….Well, apart from finding the money, sales of nearly everything I owned and getting more corporate photographic jobs to help pay for the purchase and build. I sit here now with my legs over the edge of the mill race thinking about my decision. Was this simply luck or did I create the luck?
Why did I think I would love to have this? A plot of land on a farm beside a quintessentially British village, with a startling loud mill race running through the middle of the garden and a brook at the far edge of the land. Trees, ridge and furrow fields, horses, sheep and cattle surrounding it, with reasonable distance to a city and wonderfully open minded people in the village.
Surely this IS the reason for growing into yourself, to create a home that is encompassing the world you love?
Happiness in a Cotswold field
I am awaiting the council planning decision, and discovering ways to find money to build the house, whilst researching solutions to create a passive construction. However, I didn’t have these ‘hurdles’ in my mind when I said “Oh my god yes would love to have this” because I suppose………. this land has ground and the luxury of water – whatever else needed to create a home can be made, by hand.
Reflecting on how this all happened I can see that restoring my Land Rover brought me to this place, to this position of ‘now let’s build a house’. Not only did my darling of a car allow me to fulfil that child gap (and quite frankly over the past 2 years since having worked on her, I have been so much better at those childless moments). The car has positioned me on a plot of land which I am now to call my home.
So, something from nothing. You can make anything. Just need some bricks – right?
Lara Platman is a photographer and writer. To see more of her work visit Lara’s website.