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3 October 2013

Interactive Art at Venue 28

Now I have been quite closely involved following the preparations that have gone into creating Venue 28 at Westcott Farm. I attended two of the Artists Walks that Lyn Mowat organised back in the Spring, also my partner Christopher has created one of the venue's installations.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the venue as just that, a visitor and although I had met the majority of artists involved that would be exhibiting at the farm I didn't have full knowledge of all their styles or practice and so I was greeted with a very pleasant surprise. 

The outbuildings were all dusted down, spider free and well swept creating excellent spaces to display work. Sue Lowe's collagraph  prints welcome you as you enter the main barn and they look stunning on the soft red brick wall. The room also features a collection of landscapes by Peter Messa, Veronica Clegg and Annabel Gaitskill Anderson; their individual style and use of colour surprisingly complementary.

Lucy Lean had been busy collecting mud but I had no idea quite what she was creating. Her installation is suspended from soft time worn beams, the round discs made from Westcott mole mud and soot hung on lengths of roughly spun wool - the concept being that this structure taken and formed from the landscape it now sits it can be returned to the land and earth leaving no trace.

Next to Lucy's installation are vibrant paintings by Micaela Beckett and Elizabeth Edenborough's sensitive studies of light. 

Lyn's studio is also open, we only got to peer through the window previously and her sculptures and paintings are literally dancing with life.

So where is the interactive art on the farm? 

Head away from the barns, follow the yellow bunting and little yellow arrows and you will be led to the orchard. Here Christopher has mown a Labyrinth for you to follow but before you do so you must select a Teasing Tag from the metal trunk and follow it's prompt as you walk the path. When you reach the central tree tie your card with your answer on the tree.  I spoke with one visitor whose card had instructed her to write a poem as she walked the path. The initial response was there is no way she could just conjure up a poem from thin air, but to her great astonishment and satisfaction her poem is now hanging from the branches of the apple tree!

Along the path of the labyrinth and as you approach the orchard, Gordon Field has installed his tree aura viewing boxes. Over the course of the two weeks Gordon has dowsed and then mapped the energy fields of particular trees that can be found within the Westcott landscape, two are in the orchard, the others can be viewed across the valley.

Gordon discovered his skill for dowsing over four years ago. He now offers workshops so that others may also connect with trees. The workshops take place at Otterhead near Taunton and the cost is £30 per person, the next available dates are the 13th and 27th October. So if his art installation here inspire you why not give it a go?

We spent a surprising two hours enjoying and participating with all the work on display at Westcott. I would highly recommend a visit, I know the weather has been wet of late, take a brolly to walk the labyrinth and maybe wear some wellies, my toes did get a little damp in the long wet grass.

The prints and paintings on display are naturally all for sale. The installations however have all been created by the artists with no outside financial backing and have been created purely for of the joy of art for arts sake; for you to enjoy also and maybe in the knowledge that other projects naturally lead on from such energy and creativity. It is wonderful that the owners of Westcott Farm, Lyn and Magnus Mowat enabled this group of Somerset artists to come play in the landscape at Brompton Ralph.

The end result is very uplifting and that is surely how you wish to feel after leaving an exhibition which is part of SAW.

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