In the Autumn of 2020 we are hosting a series of Borrowed Time interviews / conversations with significant voices speaking to our discussion of death and dying. Each of these events takes place on a Friday timed to allow as many participants from other countries as time zones will reasonably allow. Each lasts around an hour and time will be set aside for audience questions and comments.

The second in the series takes place on Friday November 20, 2020 at 13.00 GMT. We’re delighted to welcome artist-maker Yuli Somme who is in conversation with Director Richard Povall.

Yuli will give us a virtual tour of her busy workshop on Dartmoor and then we’ll open up a conversation and discussion about natural burial, the cycle of life from soil to soil, about using local materials and meaningful, collaborative design. Somewhere along the way Yuli will talk about regenerative agriculture (she sources the wool she uses from Dartmoor, as much as possible, in what in recent times had become a heavily loss-making industry. And oh yes, about food too…

If you have to make a think, you must know the background of it, the skeleton, the foundations, the actual stuff that the materials have grown out of, their connections with their natural background, their biotechnics – and then building can begin. And then the reason for making, the purpose, the human connection. All sides must be considered and known. You cannot just make.

– From Hand Weaving and Education by Ethel Mairet (Faber & Faber 1952)

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[photo: Fern Leigh Albert]

Yuli came to England from Moldefjord, Norway at the age of 5 and studied the low hills of the Devon South Hams, wishing they were a bit bluer, colder and higher. Dartmouth felt like a goldfish bowl after the vast expanse of the fjord. In her early 30s she came to live in Chagford, Dartmoor, and felt more at home.

Her passion for wildlife and farming eventually gave way to textiles and weaving as a career choice, but she sees these interests as interconnected, part of an holistic approach to her work. It’s not just about the wool, it’s about how the sheep fit their landscape, their resilience, their management, welfare and the environment they graze.

Wool has always been her comfort and passion, arising from her heritage of Norwegian knitting, embroidery and weaving. She loves its tactility, history, culture and ecology. This runs deep, in a place like Moretonhampstead where she rents a chapel as her workshop and where wool was the mainstay for trade and employment until the 19th Century. Her English ancestors, the Tozers, were wool merchants and sheep farmers here.

A 17th Century law decreed that the dead must be buried in wool, and this ancient tradition inspiredYuli to develop a modern alternative to imported wooden coffins. Much of her work is making shrouds and soft, woollen coffins. Bellacouche – meaning beautiful resting place – is the name of Yuli’s former workshop in Chagford and adopted for her business name.

At a time when we are bombarded with choices,Yuli wishes to make offerings that grace our lives with a simpler vision using materials that are already at hand, traceable, local and of course, organic!

The cost to take part is £5 (free for members)

To the Lowlands


Borrowed Time: on death, dying & change is our primary focus for 2021. There will be a series of events, exhibitions and other activities culminating with an extended festival throughout November 2021. 

The call for participation is still open (deadline December 13.

Borrowed Time is an summit in partnership with Dark Mountain and Falmouth University. Dark Mountain have a parallel call for submissions for their Issue 19: Requiem (deadline November 13)