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31 January 2013

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself...

'Let's meet at the Brewhouse, it will be good to put faces to names and reassure one another the SAW Blog is in good hands.'

I arrived first, bought a coffee and found  a seat. I would be easy to spot on this quiet Monday morning, the cafe was empty, but how would I recognise Natalie my predecessor? Any worries soon dissipated, as instead of the obligatory red carnation, in walked a young woman carrying a large blue metal tool box! Regular readers of the SAW Blog will be well aware that Natalie's inspiration and muses are often to be found in the tool shed. 

It was for me to introduce myself and explain why the team at SAW felt that I could be entrusted with the blog that she had created and nurtured these past three years. 

Natalie Parsley and Davina Jelley SAW Bloggers
Art and education are what originally drew me to Somerset from my childhood home in Kent. Upon graduating from my degree in textile design I was sad to be leaving this wild, beautiful and green county. A job opportunity within the art department at Somerset College of Arts and Technology enabled me to return within the year and during the twenty years that have since past I have been fortunate to make a career within the arts and creative industries. For fifteen of those years I have successfully run two craft galleries, the first in Dunster and currently Number Seven in Dulverton. Both were established and built upon the success of supporting, promoting and selling the work of individual artists. I have commissioned, bought, exhibited and sold work by many leading UK designer makers, exposing their work to a wider and appreciative audience in West Somerset. This has provided me with a sound understanding and sympathetic approach when dealing with professionals who have a wide skill base and  an array of technical processes - from ceramicists to jewellers, print makers to sculptors. 

SAW felt that this background lent itself particularly well with it's newly planned two year project. An exciting programme of events is promised, beginning this summer with an exhibition at Barrington Court entitled 'Make the Most' and will focus on the relationship between artisans and their translation of locally sourced materials. An ideology, obviously very close to my heart and that of our SAW patron Kevin McCloud.

I have also been a regular participant of Somerset Art Works and many of you may recall the brightly wrapped tree, land art installations that featured for several years in Dulverton, Dunster and North Hill, plus the subsequent photography exhibitions. Others of you will be familiar with my partner, Christopher Jelley's current Storywalks. 

As the new resident blogger I would like to thank the SAW team for asking me to be more closely involved with such a vibrant community. My aim is to make the blog a positive hub where SAW members can connect, share ideas and promote their work. Many SAW members live in rural areas where working as a professional artist can be quite solitary. There is a rich social network of artists and like minded colleagues on line. A positive world which can easily be dipped into on your coffee break to make you feel human once more, reassured that you are not alone throwing pots or painting canvases in a cold studio! In fact if you have any ideas to share that would make interesting editorial or your own regular blog that you would like linked from the site do get in touch. I hope I can continue to inject and convey the same energetic enthusiasm that Natalie has expressed.

The SAW Blog is of course accessible to the wider public who enjoy visiting the many studios and supporting the artists involved. I am sure there must be a collective noun which we can employ to positively describe devoted SAW followers? Without them SAW would not be the success that it is today. For you too are encouraged to comment and join the buzz, here you will find news, reviews and insights into the world of Somerset artists. 

The eagle eyed amongst you may recognise Andy Davey's work in the background of the photograph above. Based in West Somerset, his current exhibition, Work Surface, is at the Taunton Brewhouse until the 23rd February. Do pop in and take a look if you can. I particularly appreciated the way he had merged the boundaries of his work into the gallery environment by writing, drawing and painting onto what can sometimes be described as sterile white walls. Natalie has written about her reaction to his exhibition on her new blog Spanner in the Workzs.

So that's me saying hello and welcoming you, I hope to meet many of you in the virtual world and you never know we may meet out there in the real world too - my name if you didn't catch it is Davina.

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