Guides are now available in libraries, Tourist Information outlets, galleries and museums for Somerset Open Studios 2018. Between 15- 30 September, artists are opening their studios and working spaces to the public for Somerset Open Studios. The event allows a rare opportunity to meet and talk to artists and makers in their workplaces and learn first-hand about their creative processes. And, of course, there is the option to buy or commission work direct, at best prices.
The event is an ideal time to experience the different aspects of West Somerset in a new way. Venues can be found in all sorts of unexpected locations and buildings, from farmyard barns to quayside shipping containers. A number of venues, such as Lanacre Barn Gallery, near Withypool, and Ford Farm Studio, near Wootten Courtney, lie in beautiful, out of the way locations on Exmoor. Others lie near rural villages on the edges of the Brendon and Quantock Hills, such as Lyn Mowat’s Secret Studio, near Brompton Ralph. Guided by directions in the Open Studios guide booklet and looking out for the distinctive bright yellow signs, a day seeking out these artists’ studios can be an adventure in itself.
Other venues, in Minehead, Blue Anchor and Watchet, are a short side-step from the recently-opened stretch of the England Coast Path from Brean Down to Minehead. These coastal venues can also be easily visited on foot from a ride on the West Somerset Railway from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead. Within Minehead itself there are five venues to visit, offering work in a range of media, including watercolour and oil painting, fine art prints, jewellery and textiles. It is worth going a little way out of the town centre to see Joanne Horrobin’s enameled copper vessels and sculptures.
Watchet offers the largest cluster of venues on the art weeks trail, 6 venues featuring 10 artists. Studios are dotted around the town, several in artists’ houses. On the quayside, Contains Art houses four artists’ studios in converted shipping containers and an exciting, colourful installation by Georgina Towler will be extending into the welcoming courtyard. In addition to its open studios Watchet also offers two gallery exhibitions during the art weeks fortnight, Lydia Halcrow’s ‘Mapping Place’ at Contains Art and a retrospective of the artist John Wealthy at The Lynda Cotton Gallery in Swain Street. All in all, easily a packed, full day out for art lovers.
Another highlight of the trail will be Andrea Oke’s residency project ‘Shadowlands’ at Halsway Manor, The National Centre for Folk Arts, lying on the slopes of the Quantocks (NB 27 – 30 Sept only). Halsway is imbued with a rich folk heritage encompassing dragons, murder and ghosts. Andrea’s work is bringing these stories and other local legends and folklore to life through delicate papercut silhouettes and animations. Combine a visit here with other venues around the Quantock villages of Crowcombe, Bicknoller and Stogumber and Cecilia Leete’s jewellery workshop at Upcott Farm.
The influence of West Somerset’s beautiful landscape, coast and colourful heritage can be seen in much of the art on display and can add a new dimension to a visit to the area.
Be careful to check artists’ open days and hours in the 2018 Open Studios Guide, which can be found in Tourist Information Points, Libraries, Museums, Galleries and other cultural centres as well as cafes, bookshops and other selected outlets. To receive a copy by post please email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can browse an online version at somersetartworks.org.uk.
Somerset Open Studios is presented by
Somerset Art Works
The Town Hall, Bow Street, Langport, TA10 9PR
Tel: 01458 253 800
About Somerset Art Works (SAW)
Somerset Art Works is part of the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio of funded organisations for 2018-2022. As Somerset’s only countywide agency dedicated to developing the visual arts, SAW initiates a wide range of projects in a variety of settings, working in partnership with other arts and non-arts organisations. SAW works to increase public engagement, weaving together communities and raising the profile of the vibrant contemporary visual, digital and applied arts in Somerset. Somerset Art Works aims to support artists who want to work professionally and are looking to promote their creative businesses. www.somersetartworks.org.uk
Image – ‘Lee’ by Georgina Towler