Festival dates- 23 September- 8 October
Somerset Art Weeks is the unique celebration of Visual Arts in Somerset.
Alternating between Open Studios and Festival years, Somerset Art Weeks is now firmly established as one of the biggest showcases celebrating the visual arts in the South West. With over 350 artists in 120 venues for 16 days of this autumn’s Festival, many venues have embraced the theme ‘Prospect’ in their shows and events.
Somerset Art Works continues to support the arts in Somerset and facilitate exciting, challenging and inspiring artwork with a curated programme of commissions and partner projects all of which place Art in the heart of the community.
Among this year’s Festival highlights:
- ‘A Landscape of Objects’ featuring specially commissioned artworks and installations located in some of the South West’s most beautiful gardens such as Kilver Court, Hestercombe Gardens and Forde Abbey. It includes Lytes Cary which will also host a special contemporary craft showcase weekend (23-24 Sept).
- Somerset Art Works and Somerset Film present a programme of films, curated by Josephine Lanyon, featuring films by artists Ben Rivers, Luke Fowler, Sarah Miles and Adam Chodzko (28 Sept-1 Oct).
- A Family Friendly Weekend finale (7-8 Oct) with plenty of workshops and ‘have a go’ activities for children (and parents!) to enjoy in venues extending a special welcome to families.
- Creative Pathways bursary exhibitions. These bursaries are an important part of SAW’s work which encourages emerging artists to develop their practice by providing a range of support such as mentoring, studio space, materials and advice. There will be four Creative Pathways exhibitions, located at Dove Studios, Black Swan Arts, The Eastville Project and The Old Brick Workshop. There will also be a Creative Pathways retrospective at Taunton Brewhouse.
Some of the other SAW-supported projects and partnerships include:
- Gather-ing – located at Somerset Rural Life Museum, a contemporary craft exhibition responding to the function of the Tithe Barn
- MUSE (Makers in Museums) – eight venues across Somerset and Devon featuring responses by contemporary artists to fascinating historic collections
- Prospectus – a pilot project led by artist Anna Best for a new form of art school in the dispersed art community of Somerset
- ‘New Wave’ – a reunion of alumni from West Somerset Community College, curated by Toni Davey, located at Contains Art in Watchet, responding to Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave’.
- ‘Ephemeral and Eternal’ – an installation of new work by Fiona Campbell and Angela Morley, looking at nature’s capacity for renewal, in the Round Tower at Black Swan Arts in Frome
- Water-Meadow-Wood – a presentation of artwork created by participants working with resident artist Elizabeth Jardine, through an exploration of the natural, cultural and historical heritage of Yeovil Country Park. Part of SAW’s Community and Education programme.
- ‘en Plein-air’ – open-air painting by visiting Russian artists will form an exhibition at The Gallery in Castle Cary. The Russians will also be working alongside Somerset Artists during the summer.
Artist-led venues feature in all five regions of Somerset; Mendip, Sedgemoor, West Somerset, Taunton Deane and South Somerset. A rich variety of mediums, materials and methods will be on show in over 120 venues, with a wide range of skills on display.
Some of the more unusual venues to look out for include scrapyards, bookshops, tithe barns, pubs, a paper making mill and all of Wells High Street! Established destinations take part along with newer venues including the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury, CICCIC in Taunton, Lanacre Gallery on Exmoor, Heritage Courtyard Studios and Andelli Art in Wells, Clayhill Arts near Bridgwater, Bruton Art Factory and a special pop up exhibition by Cavaliero Finn at Monks Yard in Ilminster.
Festival years continue to delight audiences by enabling artists to participate in themed exhibitions and group shows alongside specially commissioned SAW projects. Visitors can expect to be inspired and surprised by experiencing art in a variety of unusual and special locations with the opportunity to take part in workshops, activities and talks. The vast majority of the festival is free to attend.