Paintings, sculpture, print and jewellery are amongst the art that will be on display in galleries, studios, barns, a library, a hospital and an old prison. Somerset Art Weeks Festival showcases the work of more than 300 artists, with exhibitions, talks, films, installations and workshops across the county.
This year celebrates the 25th anniversary of Somerset Art Weeks, an annual county-wide celebration of the variety and quality of contemporary visual art that can be found in Somerset. The Festival takes place every other year, alternating with the biannual Open Studios event. It is firmly established as one of the biggest showcases celebrating the visual arts in the South West.
Artists and exhibitions include:
A Long Hundred
The landscape and history of Somerset’s peat moors will feature as part of an installation in a medieval fishery building. The exhibition includes large peat pigment drawings and wooden sculptures, each the size of a traditional sod of turf. Frome-based artist Lotte Scott is working in collaboration with Natural England to create the installation in the Abbot’s Fish House, a building owned by English Heritage.
B-Wing, Shepton Prison
A group of artists has created work in response to Shepton Prison. Through sculpture, installation, poetry and immersive images, they explore memories, healing and human relationships through the prison environment.
Recycling and upcycling
A number of artists have used upcycled objects to create their work, some of which comes with an environmental message. At The Art Bank, a former HSBC building, Dimitris Koutroumpas uses reclaimed books and magazines to create live book gardens – miniature gardens inside books. Sculpture and furniture are created from recycled materials at Matney’s Shed, and artworks made from reused materials will be on display in the setting of a 1930s hardware store at Greening the Earth Gallery.
Behind the Scenes at Crispin Hall
Visitors will be able to explore unseen areas of the newly-restored hall, including a Victorian ticket booth and back-stage room, where textiles, paintings, ceramics, prints and digital images are displayed.
25th anniversary exhibition
A special exhibition at Taunton Brewhouse will celebrate the 25th Anniversary and founding of the organisation. 25 members who took part in the first event 25 years ago will display work and talk about their involvement with Art Weeks. The exhibition will give an opportunity to look back at the successes of members past and present, and to see how the event has grown.
In addition to over 130 venues all over the county, the festival also features a number of specially commissioned artworks, including :
Ask Somerset’s Plants
This new participatory sound work fosters connections between people and plants, by addressing our everyday human problems and dilemmas through natural history. Artists Fiona MacDonald and Marcus Coates are asking the public for questions – political or personal, practical or profound, large or small, questions which do not have answers that can be googled.
Drawing upon the stories of pilots living in Somerset, Memory takes the audience on a visual and aural journey from the axons and neurons found inside the brain to the distinctive topography of Somerset. Artist Suki Chan has been filming around the county, including interviews with Robbert Turner from Westonzoyland Aviation Museum and Ex-RAF pilot David Linney who shared some extraordinary stories about his love of vintage airplanes.
Artist Emilie Taylor will be creating an installation inspired by the ceramics collection at Somerset Rural Life Museum. The museum’s Donyatt slipware collection will be on display, and Emilie’s installation will be exhibited in the museum’s historic Tithe Barn.
Resources will be available for schools and colleges to plan Art Weeks visits. There will also be Family-Friendly activities and a Family-Friendly Finale weekend.
From August, free guides will be available in Tourist Information Centres, libraries, galleries, museums and other outlets across the county and beyond, as well as an online version available via the website. The guide lists over 130 Venues as well as special events including SAW projects and commissions, workshops, demonstrations and Family Friendly activities.
Notes for editors
Somerset Art Works is an artist-led organisation and Somerset’s only county-wide agency and charity dedicated to the visual arts. It initiates a wide range of projects in a variety of settings, working in partnership with other arts and non-arts organisations and receives funding from Arts Council England. SAW works to increase public engagement, weaving together communities and raising the profile of the vibrant contemporary arts in Somerset.
Visit somersetartworks.org.uk for more details and updates on special events and projects.
Published on September 3, 2019 // Sarah Adey