Everyone knows that art is all about surprises, the unexpected, the unusual, the amazing talent from the smallest of players who open up their workshops and studios during the Somerset Arts Week to the largest of players with international reputations. Their stage is now set at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery on the outskirts of the historic town of Bruton, just up the road from Castle Cary.
The town is small and pretty, in-keeping with the local vernacular and quintessentially English village-like. The main high street snakes down a hill with a variety of small independent shops, pubs and eateries, plus little lanes with bridges and greenery creating a dell-like atmosphere. If you walk all the further, you'll end up at the dovecot atop the hill - a nice vantage point for a locally-sourced picnic. Back in the town, there is also plenty of local artwork to admire.
Where the arts and crafts produced in studios across this creative and inspiring county are often (but not always) a celebration of the traditional, the Hauser & Wirth Gallery most deliberately heads in the opposite direction. The exhibitions are sometimes extraordinary, sometimes actually quite bizarre, but always eye-opening. Even the building plays its part; actually even the bar, even the display of covetable art books, and even actually the ‘ladies and gents’!
The setting is firmly historic with a cluster of beautiful stone, ex-farmstead buildings, but the contents are firmly contemporary and you have to go with an open mind ready to try and fathom out the minds of the artists whose installations and ideas will challenge you. Or you could admire them simply for their weird and wonderful aesthetic.
The Somerset Arts Week in 2017 runs from the 23rd September to 8th October with 350 artists in 120 venues over 16 days! From rural studios to local galleries spread right across Somerset, you can plan your visual itinerary just as you would navigate a walking holiday - along the stretch of the South West coastal path where the Quantock Hills descend to the sea, the ancient walking tracks across Exmoor or the long lost drovers’ paths across the Somerset Levels.
Let the landscape inspire you as it inspired the local artists and appreciate the two on your holiday in Somerset.