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25 September 2014


On Monday I had the opportunity to head out East to visit a selection of studios participating in this year's Art Weeks.
My first port of call was to see Jane Mackey at her wonderful home and studio in Haselbury Plucknett near Crewkerne. Jane's venue has twice won 'most favourite venue' and I knew I would be in for an artistic treat. Her and her husband have worked incredibly hard restoring their historic home and when Jane originally signed up to take part in Art Weeks 2012 the outbuildings that she planned to turn into her print studios were pretty much derelict. So not only did she need to complete her studio in time, she then had to get busy creating; there certainly is nothing like a deadline to make you turn out some work instead of procrastinating about it! 

Jane taught art for thirty years and found during that time no window in which to be artistically expressive herself. After attending a few refresher courses on various printing techniques Jane has surrounded herself with the equipment to experiment with most processes including woodcuts, screen prints, etchings and monotypes. An 1890's Albion Press stands proudly in her studio and if you sign up to one of her workshops you too could go home with a set of your own prints produced on this wonderful piece of engineering. 

Jane Mackey
The house is also open with an extensive exhibition of Jane's captivating Somerset landscapes, which are very reasonably priced. There is also a pop up cafe, where you may enjoy tea and cake either admiring the ancient beamed ceiling of their dining room or sitting out on the lawn. 

A great Venue to visit and one that is open every day during Open Studios from 11am until 6pm.

Next stop was Somerton, somewhere I have not had the opportunity to visit in the past and I was quiet taken by the town's distinctive architecture. I also got distracted in the vast antiques centre, however I had come specifically to visit the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen and catch up with Mayumi Kaneko - one of the four artists awarded this year with a SAW Creative Pathways Bursary. 

Mayumi Kaneko
Mayumi had set up her loom in a room that lent itself well to working in for it was airy and filled with natural light. Her aim is to capture the movement of the River Parrett as it journeys through the Somerset Levels, highlighting the positive aspects it brings rather than focusing purely on the devastating floods of last winter. The final pieces are due to go on show at an exhibition in Japan this coming October. If you wish to witness Mayumi weaving with Japanese paper yarn, you will find her at the Guild on Monday 29th September, Tuesday 30th September and Wednesday 1st October. 

Tricia Burridge
Throughout Art Weeks the guild are presenting a number of demonstrations by their members; embroiderer Tricia Burridge was busy on her sewing machine when I visited. For details of their events during Art Weeks please refer to page 48 of the SAW 2014 guide. I left the Guild cradling a box of Christmas presents!

Time to head off for my next destination, en route I called into the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury for coffee & cake and another quick look at Kate Noble's exhibition in the gallery upstairs. I had not had a chance to take it all in on the night of the SAW launch party and felt it warranted a second look.
The next part of my journey took me along some splendid straight lanes that are so distinctive of driving on the Levels - my destination Venue 169, Thornreed Studios and the home of artists Jane Peck and Simon Ledson.

As well as being busy painting his well know landscapes, Simon has also spent the Summer months mentoring artist Andrea Oke - another of the SAW Creative Pathways Bursary winners. Her work in response to the Levels is displayed for you to see and is something quite unique. Andrea has recorded conversations with the local population, capturing their valuable insights regarding it's wildlife, the landscape and of course the consequences of flood. Andrea has then taken these recordings, monitored the sound waves and then interpreted these soundscapes into 2D images. The results are very stylish, striking in their simplicity and very well executed. I am pleased to say that some little red dots were already next to a couple of her pieces.

Andrea Oke
Simon Ledson
Thornreed Studios are open everyday during Art Weeks between 11am until 6pm, do visit if you get the opportunity. The pub next door to Jane and Simon's studio apparently is highly recommended - all I can say that if a pub can survive somewhere that remote it has got to be worth hunting out and surely a great lunch out is all part of the Art Weeks adventure?!

Open Studios runs until the 5th October, there are over 200 Venues to choose from, I urge you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity, to step through doors rarely opened to the public and visit the artists in their studios - it makes buying work from them, in their homes, to hang in your homes a very memorable experience.

20 September 2014


Choosing where to visit...
In the post before last it was the artist's ability to capture light within landscapes that drew my eye in the SAW brochure, this time it's the words. When submitting their entries for the guide each artist is restricted to using a set number; these venues stood out for the imaginative and creative stance they took.
VENUE 46 Liz Gregory & Tim Martin
The list approach: Art Birdsong Coffee Devon Edge Fields Genuine Heads Ironing Jovial Kettle Landscape Moving Narrative Otter Private Questioning Reflect Silence Tension Understanding Village Washing Xerox Yorkshire Zest
They also promise pop corn.

VENUE 144 Angie Rooke
The poetic approach: Welcome to my studio. Here I sit, throughout the year and get a wonderful view of the world - sky, shapely hills and trees to mark the year. Bare branches, then the purple hue of buds, the brightest greens through to the autumn glory. Back again to winter and staying in the studio listening the rain. Paintings from my local walks and travels to Cornwall.

VENUE 159 Chris Lee 
The humorous approach: Drawn with the tiniest nibs and the largest hands, (whilst perched on a three legged stool), my drawings are expressive and intricate views of the buildings and townscapes around us. 

Studio doors were opened Somerset wide this morning, so do go exploring our beautiful county and support the artists who contribute to making it the vibrant place that it is.

14 September 2014


This year's Somerset Art Works Open Studios was officially declared open by our Chairman Richard Pomeroy on Friday evening.

The celebrations were held at Glastonbury's Red Brick Building, a community arts hub that has injected new energy into what was a sadly neglected and derelict area of the town. I must say how invigorating it is to see a building being claimed and used by it's community.

This is the first time that SAW has held a launch party of this style. It was felt that the Open Studios event warranted a more relaxed informal affair that reflected it's members, and everyone who attended seemed to thoroughly enjoy and enter into the spirit of the evening. 

It offered artists from across the region not only a chance to relax amidst their preparations before opening their doors this Saturday, but also to meet with one another; it is often the case during Art Weeks that if you are participating it is very difficult to leave your venue to see any of the other diverse events that are taking place. The artists also got to talk with members of the Friends of SAW and SAW's valued sponsors, amongst them Bruton School for Girls and Somerset College of Arts and Technology. 

The evening was organised by SAW's Festival manager Zoe Li and the team at the Red Brick Building. Richard Pomeroy welcomed guests and reminded us that this year's festival was about visiting artists in their studios, seeing their work in the environs where it was created, away from the anticipated white of gallery walls, to see it in a living space, and what a privilege it is to be allowed into such a personal creative hub.

Tom Clark, a patron of the Red Brick Building had organised an emotional performance of Caryl Churchill's ten minute play, Seven Jewish Children - A Play For Gaza. This may seem a sobering act to choose for a celebration but it served as a poignant reminder that although we may be in a room full of artists we do have our feet planted in reality and we are not all lost in a world of whimsy and oil paint. SAW sees itself as an arts platform, providing support and collaboration to all aspects of the artistic community within Somerset. When the performance had come to a close, a collection was made in respect of the author's wishes, Caryl Churchill has stated that anyone wishing to produce it may do so gratis, so long as they hold a collection for the people of Gaza.

It was then Hacker Farm's turn to swing the atmosphere in the room back to party mode. Their performance of electronic sound built gently above the hubbub of conversation until the sound encompassed the whole room and their set was well received.

All in all the evening was a great success and we would like to thank all those that joined SAW in celebrating the county's largest arts festival.

The artists' studio doors open from 11am this Saturday until Sunday 5th October. There are 205 venues to choose from showing a huge variety of work. The Art Weeks guide has all the information you need to gain the most from this year's Open Studios. Do check with each venue for their individual opening times.

I hope you enjoy discovering the artists that live and work in Somerset, who contribute to making it the vibrant county that it is. Do support them, visit their venues, perhaps even buy some work to take home.

If you wish to receive up to date details about all the events as they are happening during this year's open studios you can sign up to receive regular posts from the SAW Blog by registering your details where it says FOLLOW BY EMAIL to the top right of this page.

You can also find us on Twitter at @SAW_Ltd and @ArtWeeks14


8 September 2014


Browsing the brochure, choosing where to visit, what draws you, what pulls your eye? The artist only has a small  image and a few words to portray their individuality and say 'Hey, come visit me!'

For this post I thought I would feature the venues whose images of landscape swayed my gaze with their ability and skill to capture light.

VENUE 22 Christopher Richards: Working with richly layered and textured acrylics Christopher aims to capture within his landscapes the drama and mystery of the natural elements. An established artist since the 1970's you can visit Christopher at his studio in Minehead. 

VENUE 54 Camilla Clark: Visit Camilla in her West Monkton studio, where using watercolours, oils, and the collagraphic printing process, she captures the clean, crisp colours of Cornwall and the soft, muted tones of the Quantocks. 

VENUE 79 Jane Mackey: Jane's large studio houses an interesting selection of printing presses and was voted 'most favourite venue of 2013. Alongside her studio is a gallery area where her exhibition entitled 'A Celebration of the Somerset Countryside' will feature her original prints and paintings using traditional methods including woodcuts, screen prints, etchings, monotypes and oil paintings. Also to tempt you are the historic tea rooms and gardens which are open daily.

VENUE 103 Pauline Sayers: Pauline explores the transforming effects of light and colour in the Somerset landscape, capturing it with either her camera, brush or pastel - the results are quite atmospheric.

VENUE 172 Janet Westover, Patrice Hamilton & Brian Hutchings: The artists based at Yew Tree House are all inspired by the Somerset landscape. Here you will find a selection of painting, prints, drawing and photography. 

For the opening times of each venue do check the SAW 2014 Guide. If you haven't got yours yet they are available from tourist information centres, libraries and art venues throughout the region. You can also order a copy to be sent straight to your door by sending an A4 SAE (£1.17) to SAW LTD, Town Hall, Bow Street, Langport, Somerset TA10 9PR

4 September 2014


Many of the SAW 2014 venues welcome families, however during the weekend of the 4th and 5th of October there is a exciting array of extra activities and workshops planned. The weekend also links in with the world's largest drawing festival - The Big Draw. Details of all the creative fun are listed in the centre pages of this year's guide. I have selected a few that caught my eye, never mind if small boy doesn't want to attend -  I do!

VENUE: 148
Kirstie will be showing her sleeping performance of 'Emelan' - wearing a dreaming dress constructed out of 100m of Indigo blue silk. Workshop participants are then invited to create a unique Yarn Bomb sculpture in the surrounding landscape from ready knitted squares. All ages welcome - sounds quite fantastical how can you resist!

DATE: Saturday 4th October FREE EVENT booking advised

Join artist Emma Duke at her studio in West Monkton on this relaxed workshop creating a teardrop from shells and driftwood. No tools or skills required, just creative hands. Suitable for all ages.

DATE: Saturday 4th October 11am WORKSHOP FEE: £5.00 No need to prebook. 

Help Andrea draw an extremely large picture of trees and leaves using willow charcoal to celebrate 'Our World' - this year's theme for The Big Draw.

DATE: Saturday 4th October 11am - 4pm FREE EVENT No need to prebook.

VENUE: 173
The Somerset Crafts Centre is running drop-in willow workshops for all ages. Artist in residence Sarah Butterworth will also be busy creating large scale crane structures for the illuminated lantern parade at the Willow and Wetlands Centre on the 22nd November. See her work in progress and be inspired to create your own willow sculpture.

DATE: Sunday 5th October 11am - 4.30pm WORKSHOP FEE: From £2.00 No need to prebook.

SAW would love to see your family getting creative and possibly a little messy! Send us a family selfie of your workshop antics during the Family Friendly Weekend and you may win two tickets kindly donated by Noah's Ark Zoo Farm. 

Send your pictures to or by post to our office in Langport. Good luck and have fun!

For a full list of all THE FAMILY FRIENDLY WEEKEND activities see the 2014 SAW guide. 

*PLEASE NOTE Children must be supervised by an adult at all times. 

Image: 'Emelan' Sleeping performance by Kirstie Macleod