November, and one of the regular dates in the SAW diary is of course the AGM, not the most exciting event I admit but one that needs to officially be held so that Somerset Art Works can continue to function as an organisation and support the vibrant events and exhibitions that it is known for. The afternoon provides a great opportunity for its members to meet with the board, put names to faces and of course meet with other members, but what I think is its true strength (aside from the delicious cake!) is the Chair’s annual report, which highlights all the wonderful projects that have taken place the previous year. It certainly provides a time for reflection, when you are in the midst of it all, you sometimes don’t fully appreciate the extent of the work created and the professionalism of everyone involved. This depth and breadth of the projects realised between 2017 – 2018 was highlighted in two films that were shown on the day. The first being MUSE: Makers in Museums, which focused on the artists’ experiences and Processions, which although completed this year began in 2017.
I certainly felt very honoured to be able to join the Procession’s celebration this summer and so too did Pauline Watson as it was a project very close to her feminist heart. Pauline has been involved with SAW from its very early beginnings and was in fact responsible for appointing Carol Carey as creative director. She has now decided to retire from the board stating what a pleasure and privilege it has been to support so many inspiring and creative partnerships within Somerset over the years. I’m sure she will still keep a keen artistic eye on the future of SAW, which next year will be celebrating it silver anniversary.
It certainly was all change on the board this session, as Louise Betts, youth and community officer with Travelling Light Theatre, also stepped down and our resident chair for the past few years, Richard Pomeroy took a side step, remaining on the board. In his final role as chair Richard thanked Pauline and Louise for their support and welcomed Patricia Dixon and Anne Jones, who is also to be the new chair. Patricia Dixon was the coordinator and driving force for SAW’s Z Twist programme back in 2014. Anne Jones is currently on the board for Take Art and at one time was their chair. It will be wonderful to have two new personalities, who have a passion for promoting culture within rural areas, invigorating an already vibrant SAW board.
Next year will of course be a ‘Festival Year’ for SAW and Richard’s report highlighted the variety of locations and events that attracted 75,000 visitors during 2018’s festival, making Somerset feel like ‘the world’s creative hub for those two weeks of September/October.’ Between them, those visitors spent £250,000 on art and craft, drawn to visiting venues by the colourful guides, of which over 40,000 were distributed spreading the word locally and nationally that Somerset is a county that values the visual arts.
Whether you are an artist or organisation planning to taking part or one of our valued supporters and visitors 2019 promises to be an exceptional year celebrating 25 years of Somerset Art Works.
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WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY by Davina Jelley
Published on November 26, 2018 // Davina Jelley