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25 August 2012

Over to you...The SAW Open Studios 2012 Artists have their say....

This week's post has been specially created with the input and responses from artists taking part in  Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios 2012. I hope it gives you a taste of what to expect, be inspired from and encourage you to explore the fantastic array of artistic talent that Somerset has to offer! There are many exciting locations, events and workshops taking place this year, so please have a look on the SAW website (link below) for more details.
 From September 15th to the 30th you can visit REAL LIFE ARTISTS in their studios, galleries and in some cases tithe barns and woodlands throughout the county! If you'd like a SAW Art weeks guide, or an Education Pack or just to have a browse through the 221 venues on offer this year then have a click on the link here:
Lastly, a BIG thank you to all of the artists who contributed to this weeks post, enjoy!
Kate Noble – Venue 31, Godney, Wells

 “I am sharing my space VENUE 31, with Susanna Lisle from Bath.”
'Paintings by Kate Noble and Susanna Lisle, explore the use of dazzling colour within contemporary themes.'
“I enjoy Art Weeks because people come to look at my work, who otherwise I should not meet.”

“My special preparations will be to clean out and re-paint my studio space, so that the studio, which is 21' x 11' can have more of a gallery feel.”
Fiona Campbell – Venue 10, West Cranmore

 What are you most looking forward to about this year's Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios?
“It will give me a chance to clear up my studio (much needed!), garden and meet new and regular SAW visitors.”
 Are you making any special preparations to your studio for Art Weeks this year?
“I'm just starting on some new work, so there'll be something fresh for visitors to see as part of my SAW exhibition - a mix of drawings and sculptures. I'll also be offering taster wire workshops each Sunday lunchtime*.”
*Click on link above for more details or artists website below

Chris Jelley/Story Walks – Venue 110, (locations vary visit link for more details)

“My studio is a little fluid as I do the digital storywalks, often the walk itself becomes the studio which I then work into sketch pads and I fiddle / tinker with the tale. I posted a blog last week with images from the Dulverton Walk
“As for special preparations I am hoping to have the new web walker ready for art week, which still might happen (fingers crossed if testing goes well!). Basically it's a very easy way for people to access my walks just through one click on my website. So very excited about that and possibilities there in.”

Join Chris on the 22nd September at 10.00 at the Tantivy in Dulverton for 'The Watching Way' walk! 

 Jane Mowat – Venue 125, Watterow
'Places to Dream In' event, in the woods above Chipstable.

‘A special art installation in a wood above Chipstable. A nest built with natural materials that change and degrade over time by Liz Fathers and a carved four poster bed by Jane Mowat inviting the viewer to sleep and dream amongst the trees. Evening events of music, storytelling, singing or experience the quiet of the wood. Wed, Fri & Sun 6 - 8pm. Visitors advised to wear good footwear.’

I have been in contact with Jane as she organises this special event and installs her bed in the woods. She sent me these images as a sneak preview of the work and location

 Mark Nesbit – Venue 159, Langport

“We [Tracy and Mark Nesbit/two artists at this venue] had plans to renovate an old boiler house to extend our studio space to create a welding/metal workshop and provide wall space for exhibiting, but the terrible weather in spring and early summer meant that these have had to be shelved for perhaps next year. However, to circumvent the problem, we’ve bought a 10 x 3 metre marquee to house our exhibition so there will still be loads to see, probably more than originally anticipated. I have new work as yet unseen by the outside world as well as stuff made specifically for Art Weeks earlier in the year (as well as some old favourites from 2011) which can be seen on my Facebook page and website As one of the new South Somerset reps it has been great to meet many of the other participants, make a lot of new friends, to chat about what everyone is doing.”
Judith Champion – Venue 65, Burnham-on-Sea

“My ‘studio’ (aka the garage) was originally in fact a piggery....mmmm looks a bit like it too at the moment – I am going to have to have a bit (?) of a clear up before I dare open the doors to the public. The pig pen walls are useful for my paint pots and the rest of the space has become taken over with the things that fill a garage over the year. The photos here are very much the ‘before’ versions – I need to clear out the rubbish and get out the white emulsion!

However, I am very much looking forward to the art weeks – I am doing it on my own this year which should be a challenge but I always enjoy meeting the roll on Sept 14th!”


Simon Ledson – Venue 30, Lower Godney, Wells

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios?
“Opening my studio, this will be the first time in three years I’ll be opening my studio, I took time out to finish my MA in fine art. I enjoy having my studio open to the public you meat interesting characters. It is beneficial to me as an artist to get a response from my work, it’s how work moves on and is also the time to visit other artists in there studios.
And finishing the work on time!”

 Are you making any special preparations to your studio for Art Weeks this year?
“A new body of work, started this work in November
Decorating and a good clean out.
Working on an installation art piece – in a way of showing the work.
Producing small and more affordable works.
Make the studios and venue space interesting, a new piece of work will be installed in the river by the studio.”
Tony Davey – Venue 115, Minehead
Thanks, Andy who sent me this image of his studio today!

Jenny Graham – Venue 80, Moorlynch
"I have been trying to finish my new photo-etchings for SAW and get them all framed. Plus tidying out the studio. What a lot of work, but worth it in the end. Here's one of my latest prints; I'm doing a series based on British woodland."


13 August 2012

3-2-1 Karst Off!

Tucked away on 22 George Place is Plymouth's newly emerged contemporary art gallery and studios, 'Karst'. The building is on a site that was originally a chapel before it was bombed in WW2 and is now an artist-led exhibition space and studios for both local, national and international artists. In fact, the most recent exhibition, titled, 'SpaceInvader' featured a site-specific piece by the three artist based German group, 'Konsortium' (Lars Breuer, Sebastian Freytag, and Guido M√ľnch). With lots of post-Olympic talk in the media at the moment regarding, the 'legacy' of the Games I wondered myself, if Karst was a legacy of Plymouth's hosting of, 'The British Art Show' from last year. Yesterday I decided to pay the gallery a visit and see for myself this enterprising and exciting new space and what opportunities it had in store!
(above) Outside Karst on 22 George Place, Plymouth - To those of you who don't necessarily know Plymouth that well, head towards the Royal William Yard, turn right onto Stonehouse Street then right again onto George Place.

 I was more than a little bit 'miffed' upon arriving at Karst on Sunday afternoon, as the exhibition I came to see was closed! Great! In retrospect, I did not realise at the time that the show had ended a month before in July, duh, and I had come a month later expecting it to be open! Whoops! At the time when I was there on Sunday, I did not know this. I even wrote a long ranty blog post about it, here, until today when a friend informed me of my BIG mistake (my apologies, as soon as I realised my error I got on here to correct it straight away!) So luckily for me an artist (with a studio space in Karst) happened to pass by and let me in to have a look at the gallery!

Ahem! Anyway, I was finally in! It didn't bother me too much that I'd missed the exhibition as I was more keen to see the gallery space itself, if I could have seen the show in its full glory then that would have been a bonus. The exhibition space itself is huge! And has big chunky brickwork, columns, sky lights with silver tubes coming down and concrete floors which make it the perfect, urban and contemporary space for exhibiting in.

Whilst most of the 'SpaceInvader' show had come down, there were maquettes of the show displayed on plinths. It looked like the artists had really worked or 'invaded' the height, width and scale of the space, putting contrasting and juxtapositioning imagery together on a grand scale. A canvas of a radiation symbol remained on the wall and from what I could read from the maquettes the show itself as a whole must have looked quite 'graphics-like' in its use of big, bold imagery and text that I am sure, if I had seen it would have created a kaleidoscope of narratives and meanings. Or as, the blurb describes it, 'As a ‘gesamtkunstwerk’ (German for a universal, total or ideal work of art)'. I hope that the 'slick-ness' and advertising-like style of this show doesn't set a precedent in the form of a 'house-stlye' in which all shows are similar. I think it must be hard, as a new gallery, to have to establish your identity and branding/ethos of 'what you are' without segregating yourself or being too niche. Karst definitely has some great, exhibition titles, curation, and design behind it. It looks cool!

I sincerely felt like this venue has great potential and has been making all the right connections with the local University and providing studio space to local and national artists. This was another bonus that whilst I didn't get to see the show, I was very kindly shown the artists studio spaces which again, are huge and present a brilliant opportunity and resource for the growth and sustainability to the contemporary artist community and people of Plymouth. I look forward to seeing what Karst does next, (...although I will make sure not to turn up a month late!!)
(above) Space debris - the remnants from the previous exhibition.

Big, bold and beautiful! -Karst certainly has an impressive exhibition space.
Visit these links here, for more info!

4 August 2012

Parsley's most wanted 2012!

The wait is almost over! 42 days to go until Somerset Art Weeks: Open Studios 2012!
15th - 30th September
Get your FREE guide (featuring over 200 venues!) available at arts venues, galleries, theatres, arts centres, libraries and assorted shops and cafes throughout the land.
Alternatively, you could request a copy to be sent to you or download the pdf version on our website. For details of how to do this and more click on the link here:

In fact, whilst you're here, you can start planning your art weeks visits right now, with my own top twenty selection of arts weeks venues for 2012! Truth be told it wasn't easy to whittle it down from around 40+ venues I originally circled as being of interest, so I've included an extended list at the end of this post with even more venues that I'd like to visit. As ever, these represent my own interests and opinions and I would strongly recommend everyone having a look through the guide and picking out the artists/art forms that appeal to them (there's plenty to choose from!) Besides, some of the best arts weeks venues I've ever visited, have been the ones I accidentally come across on route to somewhere else. So, please enjoy this selection. I hope it inspires you to get out there and visit the fantastic artists we're lucky to have here in Somerset!

 Venue 19: Noah's Ark Studio (Irene Jackson and Christine Farnworth) - Baltonsborough
Printmaking, multi-media techniques, drawing, painting and photography at this venue. Sounds great to me! Thought the images at this venue looked interesting.
  Venue 25: Red Brick Building (Paul Branson, Richard Pelham and Julie Avenell) - Glastonbury
Many tales of the arts have been told of a red brick building in Glastonbury. This is a new educational centre for the arts that I have heard of, but yet to have visited. So really intrigued about this venue.
 Venue 29: Mark Hey - Lower Godney, Wells
This place is and I quote, 'full of collective strangeness' and cider (what a combination!) Categorised in the guide as a mixed media venue this studio bakes its own bread, makes its own beer, cider and larger. This sounds wonderful to me!
Venue 38: Chris Lee - Wells
Exquisite architectural drawings from this Urban artist.
Venue 54: Pete Beer, Guitar Maker - Axbridge
The great thing about Open Studios is the chance to see the 'working' practice of artists and makers in Somerset, so how cool to see a guitar maker and their studio.  
Venue 63: The Old Manor Gallery (Malin Basil) - Brent Knoll
Trompe l'oeil still life paintings. I've always liked Magritte and Surrealism and it looks like there are echoes of those in this work.
  Venue 102: Rachel Waldock and Lucy Large - Near Watchet
I came across this venue last art weeks, whilst on a tour of the Watchet/Minehead area and really enjoyed the work here. Its a great venue too. Looking forward to going back again this year.
  Venue 115: Andrew Davey - Minehead
Eat your heart out Jasper Johns! These abstract/representational paintings by Andrew Davey look really dynamic and exciting. I'll be interested to see what scale they are on?
  Venue 125: Jane Mowat - Waterrow
Hand-printed woodcuts inspired by stories and folklore as well as inspiration from the wood and the woods themselves! Special evening events and installation (a hand carved 4-poster bed) made by the artist in the wood above at Chipstable on WED, FRI and SUN 6-8pm with music, singing and storytelling. AND...artist, Liz Fathers, will have some naturally built nests in the woods as well! 
  Venue 130: Gordon Field - Culmhead
This studio is AMAZING! I've had the pleasure of visiting it before and it is full of wonderful art works, natural and man-made objects, curios and things to discover. Definitely worth a visit!
On Sat 22nd - 5pm there will be a fire sculpture event to celebrate the Equinox
Sun 23rd - 2pm there will be an artist's walk through the Otterhead landscape
  Venue 138: Studio Open: Artists Exchange/Studio Works (Hacker Farm, Eunju Yoo, Hazel Holman and Sebastian King, David Davis and Chantelle Henocq) - The Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre
 Eunju and Hazel will be based at The Brewhouse during art weeks interacting with the public and making new work (performance/film/felt/embroidered works) in response to those meetings. Plus you get to see Sebastian King's photos (as featured in this year's Open Studios Guide) in the flesh accompanied by commissioned poems by David Davis.
  Venue 140: Gary Dickins - Taunton
If interesting, rich, aged and weathered surfaces, painterly techniques and textures are your thing, then these mixed media paintings are for you! Making use of found materials, from rusted metal, felt and leather to velvet, wound dressings and wallpaper the abstract surfaces in Gary's paintings are very tactile and evoke connotations of history and alchemy. Great stuff! 
  Venue 141: Gill Jones and Nigel Banks - Somerset College (Conference Centre), Taunton
Not, exactly a studio..but a great exhibition space located in Somerset College's Conference Centre. Featuring Nigel's intricate and painstakingly hand made collages and Gill's prints/mixed media and photography of the human body.  
  Venue 159: The DB Group - Mark and Tracy Nesbit - Langport
See Mark's coloured and textured paintings that use plaster and chemistry to create their rich, dynamic surfaces and Tracy's mixed-media craft items as well as conceptual art. Viewers to this venue be sure to ask, what the 'DB' in 'The DB Group' stands for...
Venue 174: Unravelled (Leah Hislop, Bryony Tidball, Nina Gronw-Lewis) - Cotley Nr Chard
Its the return of the Tithe Barn! The infamous Tithe Barn, Cotley, Nr Chard makes its fourth Art Weeks appearance this time hosting a weaving of installations, sculpture and thread. Worth visiting alone to see this work in a unique and unusual context that is the Tithe Barn. A specially created venue for this year's art weeks.
Interactive weaving wall (open daily)
Weaving workshops on weekends- bring textiles from your past
Saturday 22nd storytelling - weaving words and spinning yarns 6pm
Sunday 30th Leah Hislop site specific installation will be finished and revealed 11-6  
  Venue 188: Lopen Farm House (Pauline Rook, Anna Howie, Steve Payter) - South Petherton
Looking through the guide this venue stood out to me purely for the visual images (of which one of three is shown here) which look like excellent examples of photography.

"Three very different photographers are showing their work in Lopen, south Somerset. Pauline who works in Rural Documentary, Steve who produces photographically 'Image Art' and Anna with her fabulous images - never previously seen - of wild horses in the Camargue." -Pauline Rook
  Venue 194: Kathrin Khan-Davis - Hinton St George
'Upcycled' jewellery and gifts! This looks and sounds very cool! Plus there are workshops on Sundays if interested (booking required).
Venue 197: Jenny Mellings - Crewkerne
Photographic meets painted landscapes, I was intrigued by this image in the guide. The red looking trees, plants and landscape reminded me of the 'red weed' that takes over the Earth in H G Wells' 'War of the Worlds'. It might be completely nothing to do with that, but I like the unfamiliar-ness to the look of this landscape that I'd be intrigued to see if its continued in her other work.
  Venue 204: Hacker Farm Pop-up Museum - Yeovil
Another inventive concept from the creative minds at Hacker Farm. This time taking over empty shop spaces in Yeovil's Quedam shopping centre to create an installation that is part gallery/part museum. Interacting with Yeovil's rich history and creating new work in the form of QR codes, punk rock posters and tractor parts (that's where the 'farm' part comes in) -expect an exciting fusion of new and old coming together!  
Venue 219: Richard Pomeroy - Bruton
Large scale body-prints, paintings and drawings from Richard Pomeroy (who those of you who remember exhibited at The Brewhouse gallery earlier this year). Big, bold, contemporary and colourful, I look forward to seeing what Richard will be doing next!
Phew! And here's another twenty or so, that whilst I didn't include in the image above I'd still recommend a visit to:

‘Outside the box’ at Kings College- venue 139
‘Thread’ at Somerset College- venue 142
The Studio Diane Burnell- venue 143
Ashar Works on plaster- venue 185