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13 October 2014

Bugs, Art and Poetry...

Somerset Open Studios has come to a close this year and for the final day of our 2014 events I joined the Family Friendly Weekend Poetry Pin Trail run by my partner Christopher Jelley. Poetry Pin is a year long project that began in March, and I have documented all of the workshop walks to date as the project's photographer. It has been quite an experience capturing the natural change of the seasons alongside the progress taking shape on the other side of the fence enclosing the huge site that is to house Hinkley C.

An invitation to walk at Hinkley Point may not sound like an ideal way to spend your leisure time - however the landscape here is surprisingly beautiful as the walk leads through meadowland, along ancient holloways and down to the beach at Shurton Bars where Coleridge was inspired to write his Ode to Sara. To witness the historical transformation that is currently taking shape is also one that we should never forget or take lightly, and the new poems being written in response will document the dramatic juxtaposition of nature and science within the Somerset landscape.

For the SAW Family Friendly Weekend Christopher invited Exmoor Ecologist David Boyce to lead the walk; encouraging the group to seek out the insect life en route. We had been a little concerned that being late in the year there would not be so many mini beasts about but the late Autumn sunshine ensured there was plenty of activity to watch, capture, learn about and release! We all left a little wiser about predators & non predators, mimics and hyper hyper parasites, and my favourite insect name of the day - Wolf Spider.

Before we set off Christopher handed out Limpet shells, each with a word that may prompt a poem, and once down amongst the rocks and boulders of the beach the group was encouraged to scribe with charcoal onto the stones.

The Poetry Pin Trail was one of many activities that took place during the SAW Family Friendly Weekend and SAW would love to know how your family enjoyed it's creative down time. If you have a photograph that captures this, then do send it to the SAW office and you may win your family tickets to Bristol's Noah's Ark Zoo. No photograph? Then why not draw a picture instead.

Send your entries to

or pop them in the post to

The Town Hall
Bow Street
TA10 9QR

If you are inspired to walk the Poetry Pin Trail, the poems are available to read 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the next workshop walk is on Saturday 8th November at 11am 
More details can be found here

1 October 2014

A SEPTEMBER SUNDAY: Open Studios Road Trip 2

Rachel Waldock and Lucy Large had invited me to visit their open studios, 'Davina, you must come, you will love it!'

So on Sunday morning I persuaded a reluctant small boy to join me on my second road trip for Open Studios; this time staying a little closer to home in West Somerset.

Venue 16 is at Rachel's home in Chidgley, close to Watchet and she had just opened up when we arrived and so it was time for a mid morning cup of tea. 

Both Lucy and Rachel play with layering images within their work, though both use very different mediums, Rachel not only draws and paints but screen prints onto fabric as well, whilst  Lucy makes sculptures with either wire or delicate paper cutting. I was very taken by a piece of Lucy's and departed leaving a red spot next to an image of a wolf skulking through the woods.

My son was also beginning to enjoy his day having enjoyed a cup of tea and a biscuit, and the art work of course!

Our next stop was Venue 36, Jenni Dutton, as I was keen to see The Dementia Darnings as SAW's Carol Carey had told me that Jenni's recent  talk at the SAW Z Twist Symposium had been very moving and moved some to tears. 

Jenni's home is like a dolls house filled with art - downstairs was brimming with portraits of dolls and winged mosaic angels. However nothing would prepare you for the 'gallery space' upstairs and the incredible work that hung on the walls in an unassuming terraced house in Wiveliscombe - this is work befitting of any major gallery.

The portraits are of Jenni's Mother and capture the steady deterioration of her health due to Dementia. Jenni explained that creating this body of work was a self imposed therapy to see her through the toughest times and enabled her to cope her Mother's illness whilst caring for her. The results are striking in their rawness and my son found them quite unsettling; he was not alone.

It was time to change the mood so we made our way to Hurstone Studios, Venue 38 in Watterow, where we knew our reflective spirits would be lifted.

Michael Fairfax is a sculptor and sound artist and has recently returned from the USA where he was installing a sound sculpture in Connecticut's I - Park. In his studio you will discover a band of intriguing instruments like no other. Micheal strikes me as someone who has to make, play, fiddle, discover and create constantly and his energy is incredibly uplifting. Visitors to his studio are urged to play upon and listen in quite an unconventional way to the music being strummed.You cannot help but leave with a smile and Solomon was starting to really enjoy his day!


Louise Baker is also based at Hurstone and may I recommend that you allow plenty of time to visit her studio; there is just so much to take in. Primarily a sculptor Louise works with a wide range of materials and techniques and her studio truly is a collection of collections.

Louise is currently working on a project that will be exhibited at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton early next Spring, and in the process of creating and 'collecting' work for the show she would like to you to 'Drop her a Line.'

You are invited to draw a line in any medium on a piece of paper measuring 30 x 8 cm. On the back she asks you to write your name, title, medium, map grid ref, date and time plus your contact details. The drawings are to be collated and bound in a way to reflect their geographical origins and then displayed within the gallery creating 'chapters.' Louise was working on 'threshold lines' in charcoal when we visited her studio and she is hoping to receive 2015 pieces in response to the project. Do contact her for further details via her website if you are interested in taking part. Simply click on the link here

A short walk from the main studios at Hurstone you can find printmaker and wood carver Jane Mowat. We had hit a busy time whilst visiting Jane, which was good to see, so I only got to just briefly say hello and capture some images. Jane was explaining to a future student on one of her print making courses the printing techniques that would be explored during the workshops. I am quite tempted to sign up for one as this is a method of printing that I have not explored and I am sure it would be a wonderfully inspiring way to spend a weekend. 

We were quite tired by now and a little concerned about being 'arted out' but we were not sure when we would get another opportunity to catch the self portrait exhibition at Contains Art in Watchet. We had attended the private view, which had been incredibly busy making it impossible to see all the work on display. Small boy entertained himself drawing himself on the mirror, not something I would necessarily encourage at home, although I do remember having great fun doing exactly the same using my Grandma's pink lipstick when I was a child! 

And so reluctant child had a great day out; we all did!