With the launch of Somerset Arts Weeks, now running until 6 October, communities across the county have access to an extraordinary range of projects and activities – 109 exhibitions, events and artist-led projects and more than 400 artists participating – for everyone to enjoy and experience.
Locally, browsers can find a number of fine exhibitions of art and crafts without having to travel far. At Milverton’s Victorian School House ‘On and Off The Wall’ is an exhibition of ‘affordable work’ by 5 contemporary artists which includes jewellery, painting, pottery and prints.
Caroline McMillan-Davey’s exhibition at Willow Acre Barn, Chipley, Wellington, displays evocative paintings of coasts and countryside by a professional artist whose work has been shown in several prestigious galleries, including Royal West of England Academy and the Royal College of Art.
‘Our view of the Blackdown Hills’ at the Somerset Skills and Learning Centre in Corums Lane, Wellington, is an exhibition showcasing the work of learners who attend Fine Art Classes, showing both diversity of landscape and of activities that occur there. Tutor Virginia Chester said, “These are all works by amateurs, many of them retired, who come to classes to paint simply for pleasure.”
The beautifully restored Chapel at Cotford St Luke is the venue for 4 artist friends whose combined work has been inspired by the local countryside. The various mediums used reflect the colours, textures and patterns in nature. The exhibition includes oil paintings, photography, textiles, jewellery and hand-crafted, kiln-fired ceramics.
Somerset Arts Weeks (SAW) is an artist-led organisation, the only countywide agency dedicated to “developing visual arts, weaving together communities and supporting artists”. Its organisers “want Somerset to be a place where people expect to engage with excellent visual art that is surprising and distinctive”, and have extended its activities into schools. InspirED Somerset aims to “enrich creative learning for Somerset children and young people bringing the skills and expertise of arts and media professionals direct to schools, colleges and children’s centres across Somerset. The InspirED consortium – comprising Somerset Art Works, Somerset Film, SPAEDA and Take Art – has been awarded a three-year contract by Somerset Schools Compact to deliver the new universal arts and education network to which all educators working with young people are encouraged to subscribe.”
SAW Patron Kevin McCloud, presenter of TV’s ‘Grand Designs’, said, “Somerset Art Weeks is a much-loved and thriving annual event and I’m proud to support it. It plays an invaluable role in identifying and celebrating a huge variety of creative activities and projects in this county, finding emerging artists and raising awareness of them. I urge you to go out and enjoy this glorious festival of cultural exploration.”
A comprehensive guide to all the events of Somerset Arts Weeks is available free of charge at Tourist Information Centres, libraries, online and at each of the exhibition venues.