As the nights grow longer and London braces itself for a chilly winter, there is no better time to escape the city and, it seems, no better place to go than Somerset. We’ve rounded up the best of art and culture in the West Country, so all you have to do is grab your hiking books, yellow rain coat and jump on a train.
A stunning contemporary art gallery set in the grounds of Close House, Hatch Beauchamp, South Somerset and founded in 2009 by curator and art advisor Freeny Yianni, Close Ltd is the destination for experiencing world-renowned artwork outside of big cities. With over thirty years’ experience in the art industry, Freeny chose to leave London and found Close Ltd as a placemaking exercise with the goal of bringing the best in international art and culture to the beautiful and rural landscape and creative communities of Somerset. Close places great emphasis on sustainable practice, slotting delicately into the local ecology and working towards a more environmentally conscious art world across the board.
They are currently presenting a multivenue solo exhibition of works by London-based artist Helen Barff, spotlighting her ongoing sculptural practice, alongside a new body of work developed through working with the cross-generational communities of Somerset in relation to The Taunton Stop Line. Thematically, the exhibition looks to ‘safe spaces’ drawing on the local abundance of World War II pillboxes and following this thread through to imagined and internal sites of refuge. In subject matter, the exhibition is especially poignant at this time of human conflict and widespread environmental destruction, offering a welcome glimmer of hope. www.closeltd.com | @closel
Somerset Art Weeks
Running until October 9th, Somerset Art Weeks in an annual countywide celebration of the best in visual, digital and applied contemporary arts, featuring over 100 galleries and over 300 artists for this year’s edition. Founded way back in 1994, the historic cultural celebration is now chaired by gallerist Freeny Yianni and themed ‘SANTUARY’ for 2022 exploring the landscapes, homes, communities and people who offered safety and support during the challenging lockdown periods and beyond. Commissions and partner projects include SAW Guest Curator Josephine Lanyon’s exhibition at Abbey House, Glastonbury with featured artists Olivia Plender, Rory Pilgrim and Sally O-Reilly, and artwork by Jacky Oliver and Jessie White at the Somerset Rural Life Museum. There are 7 exciting micro-commissions taking over unexpected locations across the county including churches and outdoor spaces by artists such as Carolyn Lefley, Jane Mowat, Joanna Briar, Jil Davies, Lucia Harley, Lotte Scott, Tom Baskeyfield, Kelly M O’Brien and Tina Salvidge. Many institutions and galleries have put on special exhibitions, and there are a huge number of events, performances, theatre shows, talks and walks to be enjoyed by all. somersetartworks.org.uk