Last Friday guests gathered under the imposing arches of Charlton Viaduct to proclaim the launch of this year’s Somerset Art Work’s festival. This imposing structure, set within the beautiful gardens of Kilver Court is also the inspiration and dramatic backdrop for David Ward’s ‘In The Air’ which was premiered that same evening. Curated by SAW’s Zoe Li, the sound installation was specifically commissioned to respond to the setting and combines poetry, bird song, readings and song to create an ambient soundscape celebrating the ‘oasis’ that is planet earth, and the pleasure gardens, large or small instil. The gardens at Kilver Court are truly a hidden green haven within the centre of Shepton Mallett and as such take you quite by surprise.
David has unobtrusively transformed each great arch into a sound room and as guests wandered freely from one to the other, snippets of quotations from Milton, Marco Polo and Homer drew them to another arch where they could catch the sounds of flowing water, rustling leaves or distant trains. Weaving these quotations from antiquity and ambient sounds together is ‘Garden Song,’ a poem written by David and set to music by composer Orlando Gough and sung by Rebecca Askew.
The evening was opened with a speech from our host, English designer and founder of the Mulberry label, Roger Saul, whose enthusiasm to install contemporary art within his gardens is greatly appreciated by the team at SAW. Our chairman, Richard Pomeroy, then welcomed and thanked everyone for attending, wishing all a successful art weeks, artist and visitor alike. David Ward then took the microphone to share a little of the inspiration and thought processes behind creating ‘In the Air.’ He paid particular emphasis on the collaborative aspects of the project, commenting how rewarding and important it is to reach out, to connect with others when our world, particularly at present seems so fractious.
‘Whether a window box or a landscaped park, gardens connect us to a natural world. Gardens give shape to our relationships with nature and are also a deep expression of a profound longing to find a haven, an oasis, a peaceful place in a troubled world. in this sense, gardens can lead us back to some of the great creation myths and echo a desire for an Eden, a Paradise on Earth.’
The storm showers held off until the speeches closed, guests were then able to take shelter under the arches where they mingled, chatted and enjoyed a glass of wine. The more inquisitive sought out David’s soundscape in the less peopled arches and as the last few guests enjoyed the quieter end of the evening the late sun caught a blaze on the arches.
Kilver Court was a wonderful setting for the 2017 launch, as guests departed I heard many comment that they would return at a later date, stating that David’s artwork requires quiet contemplation without the distraction of function chatter to be fully appreciated.
‘In The Air’ is part of the wider SAW programme entitled ‘A Landscape of Objects.’
Kilver Court is Venue 14 and open daily between 10am – 5pm from the 16th September, until the 8th October.
Admission to the garden is £5.00
For those that would like to know more about the installation there is to be an Artist Talk on Sunday 1st October between 2 – 4pm. Booking is recommended, simply contact the SAW office on 01458253800 (Tue & Thur 9am – 4pm) or email email@example.com.
Other venues participating in A Landscape of Objects are Forde Abbey, Lytes Cary and Hestercombe Gardens.
The festival begins this Saturday and promises to be another wonderful year offering a diverse, exciting line up, focusing on the rich and creative Somerset arts scene – I’m looking forward to exploring some of the many venues and I hope you are too.
Wishing everyone a successful 2017 Festival!
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WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY by Davina Jelley
Published on September 18, 2017 // Davina Jelley