Somerset Art Works- celebrating 25 years of Somerset Art Weeks

This year is the Silver Anniversary of Somerset Art Weeks and the first event in 1994 featured 160 venues with artists, groups, events and organisations all taking part. Somerset Art Works invite venues featuring in this year’s Festival to consider celebrating the Anniversary when planning their exhibitions and venues. In a change from the last three Festival years, there is no one-word theme this year but instead an opportunity to celebrate the anniversary and history of the organisation and reflect on the vibrancy of arts and creativity in Somerset. Participating venues are invited to celebrate the Silver Anniversary as part of their exhibition, if they wish, which will then be indicated against the venue entry in the guide.

SAW invites venues to celebrate in a number of ways- maybe your venue has an artist who took part in the first event? ‘Silver’ may appear in the work of participating artists in different ways- as a material property, in the title of a piece of work or as an exhibition concept/idea. The participating venue or group of artists may want to thread the notion of silver, anniversary or celebration through their exhibition. There could also be elements of reflection from artists and organisations who are long-term members, looking back on their participation in the event over the years.

SAW are open to ideas as well so if you want to let us know what you’re planning, then please get in touch. We’d also like to hear from anyone who took part in the first event. As this is Festival year, venues are encouraged to present group and curated exhibitions, with artists collaborating to create something different to the Open Studios year.

Dictionary definition:

‘A transition metal, silver is found in nature as the native metal as well as in combined form in ore minerals. It is valued for use in jewellery and other ornaments and formerly in coins, and the decomposition of silver salts by the action of light (depositing metallic silver) is the basis of photography.’


Chemical and physical properties: Pure silver is nearly white, lustrous, soft, very ductilemalleable, it is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. It is not a chemically active metal, but it is attacked by nitric acid (forming the nitrate) and by hot concentrated sulfuric acid. It can be beaten into thin sheets, bent and is relatively soft and dense. Symbol: Ag

Material properties of Silver… guilding, photography, silver making.

Associated terms: Silver lining, silver medal, silver screen, silvered, quicksilver

Synonyms: shining, lustrous, bright, gleaming

Origins: Old English seolfor, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zilver and German Silber.Latin ‘Sylva’ means timber.


SAW’s plans and projects for the 2019 Festival

The Silver Anniversary of Somerset Art Weeks will host a diverse programme of inspiring exhibitions, events and workshops in over 100 locations across Somerset, alongside exciting new commissions, group shows and education projects by over 300 artists. Explore a great showcase of contemporary art and craft in all media including:

  • A series of commissions under the title ‘County of Contrasts’, exploring the enigmatic elements and hidden stories of the County through site specific work- new artistic approaches connecting with Festival visitors in unexpected ways
  • SAW Craft Residency at Somerset Rural Life Museum with South West Heritage Trust and associated Makers. Celebrating craftsmanship in Somerset and beyond
  • A special exhibition at Taunton Brewhouse to celebrate the 25th Anniversary and founding of the organisation. An opportunity to look back at the successes of Members past and present and to reflect on the development of the event and their work
  • Four Creative Pathway Bursaries, supporting emerging artists to develop and show their work
  • New for this year; four Project Development Bursaries for Artists, supporting mid-career artists to develop their ideas and ambitions
  • SAW’s Education programme with resources for schools and colleges to plan Art Weeks visits. There will also be Family-Friendly activities and the Family-Friendly Finale weekend
  • Specially-invited guest artists, curators and partner venues taking part, from around the county and further afield
  • Workshops, talks and guided visits- part of a special Silver Anniversary Events Programme