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25 September 2013

On The Road

Our SAW venue was closed on Sunday which gave us the perfect opportunity to go exploring, so with map and brochure in hand we headed Chard way...

The first exhibition we called into was that of the Blackdown Hills Artists and Makers, BHAMM, at Cotley Tithe Barn. 'Skills Unearthed' explores the crafts and industry of the Blackdown Hills, for some of the artists involved this marks the end of a two year project and they have drawn inspiration from themes as diverse as corn dolly making to the World War Two airfields nearby. 

This is an exhibition that requires the visitor to invest a little time in drawing out and understanding the history, background and research that has gone into the final work. I was particularly intrigued to visit having followed Gillian Widden's progress with her teasel sculpture and wished to see the finished structure in situ, you can read more about her project on an earlier post here

Alongside sculpture there is weaving, film making, photography and sound installations - a good mix of media. Ruth Bell's dance and film piece Sky Dancing explores the history and character of Dunkeswell, based on interviews of people who remember the dances at the airfields during WW2, the film brings their memories to life alongside conversations with current skydivers and pilots.

On Friday 4th October at 7pm there will be a dance performance by Ruth followed by Jive lessons so you too can have a go and take your own memories home of dancing in the Blackdowns.

Those that live and have lived in the area will no doubt resonate with the history that these projects celebrate and remember, and will hopefully leave with an enhanced outlook on their familiar local landscape. It is poignant that these memories have been captured before they truly disappear. The black and white portraits of the surviving American war veterans who were based on the airfields nearby are not sweetly nostalgic but quite disturbing and beguiling. It is a fitting reminder not to take people at face value - it is all too easy to dismiss a stranger's story filled past and realise that we must converse more to truly understand and appreciate the person within.

This is thought provoking exhibition by a professional group of artists and well worth a visit.

It was time to head on to our next port of call, Venue 67, Corvids at the Jackdaw Studio, so we followed red signs and yellow signs and were delighted to find a marvellous pub for Sunday lunch!

Tummies full, the flock of birds outside welcomed us to The Jackdaw Gallery, their poetic entry in the SAW brochure had stood out in the listings and I too am fascinated by these intelligent birds.

Cruciform against blue skies, soaring and tumbling, silent, raucous, always here or there, coming and going: crows, jackdaws, jays, magpies, rooks and ravens command attention and demand representation. As a group of five artists we celebrate the sound, sight, image, texture, and movement, shape, and character of these paradoxically ubiquitous but enigmatic birds. 

The gallery was small but perfectly formed and we spent a while appreciating the wok on display. The mix of ceramics, collage, painting and photography worked well with the theme gelling it all together. There was also a selection of Hilary Dixon's poetry and novels for sale and it had been her words published in the SAW guide that prompted our visit and we were pleased we had.

Unfortunately we were unable to make a larger purchase from The Jackdaw Gallery as there was no magic PDQ machine available. We didn't have enough cash between us and it is rare these days to carry a cheque book. So be prepared and do pack a cheque book so that you can make some pleasing impulse buys whilst on your art week travels as many of the venues will not have card payment facilities due to their temporary nature.

On the way home we saw more yellow signs tempting us down unknown lanes but they would have to wait for another day, it was time to head home and dream of Corvids.

En route this bus stop grabbed our attention and we just had to turn around, stop and take a picture, it's nothing to do with SAW 2013 that I know of, situated not far from the Holman Clavel can anyone explain it's origin? 

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