EXMOOR DARK SKIES FESTIVAL

Exmoor National Park Authority is pleased to confirm that it will running Exmoor Dark Skies Festival from Thursday 19 October to Sunday 29 October 2017 – a ten-day festival of activities for families and enthusiasts to celebrate Exmoor’s dark skies and enable people to experience the exceptional quality of our starry nights.

There will be bookable sessions in the pop-up planetarium and informative and engaging talks, guided star-lit walks and children’s workshops with the education team and rangers. Exmoor National Park would also welcome other organisations and tourism businesses who would like to take part. Groups may wish to host their own event or support others and businesses may wish to use the festival in their own marketing to attract more visitors in this quieter season.

If you are interested in running an event or using the festival to attract more visitors and would like to discuss ideas, please contact Katrina Munro (Economy Project Officer) who is coordinating the event: kjmunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk; 01398 322236

www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival 

PHOTO: Great Orion Nebula M42 taken by Paul Jeanes from his observatory in Washford “under the darkest skies”.

HALSWAY FETE AND FOLK FOR ALL THE FAMILY

This year’s Halsway Manor Fête takes place on Saturday 3 June, from 12-5pm, and promises to be bigger and better than ever!

The Manor gardens will be filled with stalls including local foods and produce, flowers, books, plants, art and crafts. Minehead Library will be offering storytelling for children in the Summer House, Mr Mommet’s Punch and Judy will take place on the croquet lawn, and the Manor’s maypole will be put to good use with opportunities for all to join in with maypole dancing! Feeling peckish? There will be a lovely range of delicious things to eat, including cream teas, cakes, a BBQ and ice cream made especially for you by Somerset’s Brinkman’s Ice Cream!

Halsway are delighted to be welcoming several dance teams to the day as part of Sweet Coppin’s 40th anniversary celebrations! There will be performances throughout the afternoon from Taunton’s Sweet Coppin clog dancers, Taunton Deane Morris Men, City Clickers clog dancers, and Silver Flame Rapper Sword dancers; there will be a workshop too for anyone who wants to try clog, morris or rapper for themselves.

Entrance to the Fête is by donation – please give what you can; all monies raised will go towards Halsway’s Restoration Appeal, a project of essential works to preserve both the fabric of the historic Manor, and also its nationally important library collection.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a Charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. All are welcome. For more information visit www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERT GIVES DEVON AIR AMBULANCE A 360° HELICOPTER WALK-THROUGH

A businessman who specialises in virtual reality (VR) walk-throughs for property sales has used his state-of the-art technology to create a virtual tour of Devon Air Ambulance’s (DAA) emergency helicopter and hangar at the charity’s Eaglescott air base.

Noel Sexton, who runs based Somerset based View It 360, providing VR Solutions for businesses from London to Truro, has donated the VR tour to thank DAA for the role in getting his new-born son Callum to hospital after he suffered severe breathing difficulties and was turning blue.

Although the incident happened 11 years ago, it was when Noel set up his VR business last year that he realised he could do something unique for the charity.

He said: “A few years after the incident my mother heard about the airbase visits for former patients and contacted Head Office to arrange a visit for us all.  Afterwards my parents signed up to become volunteers with the charity and they now service the DAA collection boxes in the East Devon areas and also help man DAA stalls at various events.

“Callum is now a fit and healthy 11-year-old who loves life.  The entire family are very grateful to DAA and over the years we have held several fund-raising events for them.  So when I set up my new business, View It 360, at the end of last year, I immediately saw an opportunity to raise awareness of the work of the charity by offering to donate a 360 degree virtual reality tour of the helicopter and hangar at Eaglescott.”

Using the latest technology, View it 360’s immersive and photo-realistic tours provide an easy-to-navigate walk through with the ability to zoom in and out and rotate the image.  The tour can be viewed on mobile, tablet and desktop devices by visiting www.daat.org/vr-tour-of-devon-air-ambulance and can also be viewed through VR headsets.

DAA Chief Executive Heléna Holt said: “This is a wonderful gesture from Noel.  It’s a visually stunning tour and will give more of our supporters a better idea of the helicopter’s specification and controls as well as being great fun to navigate around.  It’s a very different type of donation but one we are extremely grateful for, especially as it will attract more visitors to our website to see the work we are doing on behalf of the people of Devon.”

 

QUANTOCK HILLS AONB AND DOFE PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION

The Quantock Hills AONB Service and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in partnership with Splashmaps ran a photo competition to commemorate 2016 being their 60th anniversary year; they were searching for the best outdoor Quantock memories of last year.

Entries were invited for two categories: 1. Best Landscape Image and 2. Best Expedition Image. Over 100 entries of photos and film were received. At the beginning of May, after much deliberating, the winners and runners-up were decided. The winners of each category and the special film winner will receive a special edition 60th Anniversary Splashmap, which is a wearable, washable all-weather map, designed for the real outdoors.

To celebrate the wealth of local talent that this competition has unearthed, a free exhibition of all the entries will run until 4 June at the National Trust’s Fyne Court Music Room, Broomfield, TA5 2EQ and is open daily from 10am to 4pm. Why not go along and see the fantastic collection of images and stay for a wander and a cup of tea too as the café is also open all week.

The hope is for the Quantock Hills AONB and Somerset Duke of Edinburgh to make this an annual competition, so if you are out on your Duke of Edinburgh expeditions over the next few months or just love spending time on the hills, don’t forget your camera! Look out on the website and social media for information in the future or email quantockhills@somerset.gov.uk to be added to the AONB mailing list.

Jeff Brown, Somerset County Council’s Duke of Edinburgh Award Manager, says: “For over 60 years a DofE expedition has been the first experience of the Quantock Hills for many young people in the South West. This competition will allow them to share their energy and enthusiasm for this beautiful landscape, but we are also looking for pictures that reflect their full expedition experience so don’t ignore the photos of sore feet, walking through horizontal rain or the feeling of pride when you complete your first ever expedition .”

Chris Edwards, Manager, Quantock Hills AONB Service, says:
“We know that there is an extraordinary amount of photographic talent in and around the Quantock Hills, and we would like to take this opportunity to showcase our finest local photographers, and commemorate 60 years of the Quantock Hills being nationally protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

PHOTO: Best Landscape Image Winner by Frank Clatworthy

DEVON AIR AMBULANCE SUPPORTER PROMISE

Cara Jones

Devon Air Ambulance would once again like to take an opportunity to promote its ‘Supporter Promise’ at the same time as welcoming new Volunteer Manager, Cara Jones, to its team to support over 430 amazing volunteers.

After receiving questions on whether it pays its volunteers a cut of monies they collect, Fundraising Director Caroline Creer, said, “All of our amazing volunteers donate their time and efforts day in, day out.  They could be attending events, working in one of our 17 charity shops, collecting boxes or picking up a cheque at a presentation.”

She added, “We’ve been asked a lot recently if we pay commission to our volunteers – no, we do not! Every single penny raised goes straight into the pot to keep Devon’s two Air Ambulances flying up to 17 hours a day. That’s why our volunteers are so amazing and we couldn’t achieve what we do without them.”

If you would like to find out more about volunteering for Devon Air Ambulance why not get in touch? It’s not only a feel-good thing to do, it’s also a great way to meet new friends and learn new skills.  Contact Devon Air Ambulance on 01392 466666 or email: fundraising@daat.org.  Alternatively, if you would like to volunteer in one of their shops why not pop into your local one to find out more?

Supporter Promise:

Devon Air Ambulance’s Supporter Promise to you:

  • We don’t share or sell any of our supporters’ data
  • We treat our supporters as they wish to be treated
  • The only mail we send out is our Helipad magazine up to four times a year to keep our supporters up to date with our activities and local interest
  • We send monthly enewsletters – only to supporters who have asked to receive them
  • We don’t authorise anyone to go door to door on our behalf
  • The only representatives of the charity who may ask for your personal information are our lottery canvassers but only if you choose to join
  • We do not employ third party companies to ring our supporters asking for more or to cold call
  • We do not pay commission to anyone collecting our boxes or cheques on our behalf

ART TREK CALLS FOR ARTISTS & MAKERS TO TAKE PART IN SEPTEMBER OPEN STUDIO EVENT

Back in 2003, a small group of artists across the area decided to throw open the doors to their homes and studios as part of the North Devon Festival. 14 years on and this successful, established open studios event will showcase work from some of the best artists and makers in the area as they again open their homes, studios, gardens and shared venues.

The call is now out for artists and makers to take part in the September 2017 Art Trek. Last year over 50 artists were featured, exhibiting their work, offering insights into their working practice and discussing the techniques used in their creative processes. Bideford based artist and ceramicist, Michael Storrs, took part in Art Trek for the first time in 2016.

Broken Face Michael Storrs (c) John Andow

Michael says, “I was amazed how many people came to see my work and it was interesting to get people’s comments and take on things. I found that overall it was a very positive experience and I also sold some work! Plus, to my great delight, I have been offered an exhibition of my work in Paris at the end of this year.”

Barnstaple-based artist Mike Woollacott has participated in Art Trek since 2007. He says, “I have taken part in North Devon Art Trek for nine years and have always enjoyed the experience. Over the years I have found it very rewarding to meet lots of interesting people, whether they are local, or, in many cases, have travelled considerable distances. Obviously selling my art is a bonus, but I have found the contacts I make are extremely beneficial, in that people may purchase at a later date or even recommend me to friends and family.”

Yet another artist who opened her studio last year was ceramicist Fiona Matthews. Fiona’s comment on taking part: “A great experience – you never know who will walk through the door and where a conversation might lead. Not to be missed!”

For the first time in 2017, Art Trek will be produced by White Moose Projects CIC, formed to offer free and accessible opportunities for people from all backgrounds to engage with visual arts. One of its founders, Stella Levy, has been involved with Art Trek since its inception. Stella is confident that Art Trek has a bright future under White Moose Projects: “This North Devon open studios event is much loved in the area, both by the artists taking part and visitors to the event and with White Moose now supporting the annual Art Trek, it will ensure the open studios goes forward with a renewed vitality, but not losing the trust in the event, developed over the last 14 years.”

Artists and Makers wanting more information and to take part in the September 2017 Art Trek, please apply for an Entry Form to info@arttrek.co.uk. The closing date for completed forms is 1 June 2017.

Top: The River Taw at Chapleton by Mike Woollacott.

TIME TO GET OUTDOORS WITH NORTH DEVON & EXMOOR FEST

Keen walkers are being encouraged to come to North Devon and Exmoor this month (May, 2017) for an Outdoor Festival run by Visit Exmoor that coincides with National Walking Month.

The event hopes to inspire everyone from hardened ramblers to novice strollers, from far and wide, to pull on their walking boots and head for the area.

Outdoor enthusiast, Claire Sellar-Elliott, co-owner of The Jubilee Inn at West Anstey along with Executive Chef Sam Salway, said: “This part of North Devon and Exmoor is perfect for walkers of all abilities, as there is plenty to see and do with paths that are either challenging or easy to do.”

The Jubilee Inn is in the heart of deepest Devon, not far from the official ‘Gateway to Exmoor’– the bustling and picturesque market town of South Molton.

“Right on our doorstep here is the 117-mile Two Moors Way, which traverses the whole county, coast-to-coast, from Plymouth to Lynmouth. We get lots of walkers popping in to have teas, coffees and lunches with us en route.

“Often our guests stay with us to explore the immediate area on foot, so we provide pack lunches, everything from basic and family options, to luxury champagne hampers, on request too.

“We also welcome a lot of cyclists and caravan-holiday visitors who come to the area to enjoy the outstanding views and landscapes. We provide secure bicycle storage and free parking for those transporting their bicycles to the area from further afield, if they wish to use us as a base for a wider holiday.”

The Visit Exmoor Outdoor Festival aims to promote everything from coastal to forestry and moorland walks, as well as paths taking in the area’s quaintest villages and many other activities are being promoted too.

“Festivals like these are a great way for everyone to explore North Devon and Exmoor and take in some of our finest vistas, and just to enjoy the simpler things in life like hedgerow flowers and birdsong.

“But it’s not just about visitors coming into the area, the festival overlaps with National Walking Month, which is designed to encourage us all to get out and walk more, wherever we live. Experts say adults need to do at least 20 minutes of walking a day for health, fitness and general well-being, so it’d be really great if locals got involved too and came out walking in the area this month as well.

“We’re also close to the South West Coast Path, which has wonderful, breath-taking views. There are lots of circular walks here too, perfect for all abilities.

“But it’s not just about us humans, this part of Devon is wonderful for anyone with a dog as well and we are super dog friendly here with pet-friendly rooms. A senior member of staff also has their own Cruft’s Winner and offers doggy bathing and care!

“Those wishing to take their horses onto Exmoor for some outstanding trail riding are actively encouraged too as we’ve got box parking and local horsey knowhow to hand!”

For more information about this year’s event, which comes under Visit Exmoor’s Outdoor Festival, please visit www.visit-exmoor.co.uk.

To link with the Outdoor Festival and National Walking month, The Jubilee Inn is offering visitors throughout May a special buy one, get one half price offer for Wednesday and Thursday lunchtimes from dishes selected from its daily Menu du Jour.*

It is also offering guests a special buy one, get one half price on all main course Sunday roasts until 31 August, excluding the Bank Holiday weekends. Booking is essential to participate in any offers.

For further details about The Jubilee Inn, which is on the B3227 at West Anstey near South Molton, please call 01398 341401 or visit www.thejubileeinn.co.uk.

REGENERATION PLANS FOR BUTCHERS ROW, BARNSTAPLE

Plans are on the table to regenerate one of Barnstaple’s most iconic streets.

North Devon Council is setting aside some of its planned maintenance budget to spruce up Butchers Row in the coming months. It is also in talks with Barnstaple Town Centre Management to understand customer needs and changing shopping habits and to discuss plans to regenerate the historic street.

Last year the council refurbished Barnstaple Pannier Market, which runs the length of Butchers Row. Attention is now being turned to the historic units that the council lets to local businesses and work is likely to begin in the next couple of months.

Head of Resources at North Devon Council, Jon Triggs, says: “Butchers Row is probably one of the most photographed streets in Barnstaple and is an important historical feature of the town. Over the next couple of months we will be looking in detail at what can be done to improve and regenerate the Row, which is Grade II listed and, as such, needs extra care.”

There are currently some vacant units along the Row available to let. Contact Wright Commercial for more information on 01271 377333 or www.thewrightproperty.co.uk.

 

JEREMY COOPER: POSTCARDS – THREE POSTCARD EXHIBITIONS

From the collection of Jeremy Cooper comes an installation of over 4,000 postcards at Podshavers restaurant on the outskirts of Bishop’s Lydeard. Postcards by Ian Hamilton Finlay will also be shown at Watchet Boat Museum, together with an installation of postcards at Watchet’s Market House Museum. The three shows, all of which are curated by Contains Art, will run until the end of June.

PODSHAVERS
Installation of over 4,000 postcards

Pound Lane, Bishop’s Lydeard, Somerset TA4 3AD, Tel: 01823 433556
Open evenings Wed. to Sat., Sunday lunch from 12 midday.

This is the final show in a series of installations of mint commercial postcards which Jeremy Cooper has mounted over the last three years, the first having taken place at Contains Art in Watchet in October 2013. Most of Cooper’s store of over 4,000 modern postcards are mounted in flush patterns across the walls of Podshavers, a family-run restaurant in an open-beamed Edwardian milking parlour on the outskirts of Bishop’s Lydeard.

These postcards have been gathered since the early 1980s, when Cooper began the practice of buying at least two of every postcard he liked, one for keeping, the others for sending. Since 1999 he has stored the postcards in categories, seeking out over the last decade standard commercial postcards in his favourite fields, such as shoes, country churches, chairs, toys, aerial landscapes, writers, shells, bridges, and many more.

Podshavers is owned and run by Rob and Tara McNeish, chef and front-of-house, who co-founded the restaurant in 2000 withJeremy Cooper, who was at the time responsible for the financial and contractual arrangements, as well as organising a series of music recitals. They named Podshavers after the cricket bat makers who used to work in the adjacent barn, shaving willow pods. Later, due to illness, Cooper passed Podshavers wholly over to his partners.

WATCHET MARKET HOUSE MUSEUM
24 postcards of Watchet, Williton and Washford

The Market House, Market Street, Watchet, Somerset TA23 0AN
Open daily 10.30am-4.30pm.

The 24 early postcards of Watchet and nearby Williton and Washford in this select show in Watchet Market Street Museum reflect a recent interest of Jeremy Cooper’s that has rapidly become a semi-obsession: pre-1920 postcards of Somerset, mostly hand-tinted by unnamed artists either in the negative or directly onto the lithographic stone. The display includes different views of Market Street, featuring the Museum itself, and also a fine tinted postcard of the paper mills, with St Decuman’s church on the hill behind, both published by N.G. Helliker in their premises opposite the museum, now a café serving excellent fish and chips.

The harbour at Watchet continues to be a favourite subject for postcard publishers and its changing formations are fully recorded, mostly in black and white – the earliest postcard on show of the harbour is dated 1903, and the alterations to landscape and buildings, often dated by the postmark or message, are part of the attraction of postcard gathering. This museum, built in 1820 as a covered market, is shown in a 1927 postcard to be occupied by Morse’s Distempers – the building was not opened as a museum until 1979.

Of particular interest are the social activities illustrated in postcards, the different dress people wore, as well as the carriages and bicycles used in the earliest years of the twentieth century. Worth noting are postcards of buildings in their original use: the mill in Williton, now the Bakelite Museum, and the radio station in Washford, now a children’s adventure ground.

WATCHET BOAT MUSEUM
Ian Hamilton Finlay

Harbour Road, Watchet, Somerset TA23 0AA
Open daily 10am-5pm

Jeremy Cooper’s collection of artists’ work with postcards has been accepted by the British Museum as a gift, accession of the collection in 2019 to be marked by a major exhibition in the Department of Prints and Drawings, provisionally titled The Postcard as Contemporary Art. The collection includes over 100 postcards designed by Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006), printed at his own Wild Hawthorn Press in Scotland, which he set up in 1961.

Finlay was particularly keen on boats, which he incorporated in a number of works, and Cooper has gathered 14 of his boat postcards, mounted in two frames, here on their first public display as a permanent gift to the Boat Museum. All 14 postcards are in perfect condition, purchased direct from Wild Hawthorn Press, stored since each of the first edition printings of between 200 and 250. The Tate, which owns a representative group of Finlay’s postcards and folding cards, describe him as “one of the most original artists of the twentieth century”, noting that “early in his career he was Britain’s foremost concrete poet and his approach to his work – whatever material he used, whether wood, stone, neon, bronze or paper – remained that of a poet giving form to ideas.”

He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1985, and James Campbell, in a Times Literary Supplement book review of September 2016, described IHF – he was widely referred to by his initials – as “one of 20th century Britain’s most unexpected artists”. A large number of postcards were included in the solo Ian Hamilton Finlay show at the Arnolfini in Bristol in 2013. The Boat Museum’s group of postcards were specially mounted behind museum glass to protect from fading, in frames made of cardboard by local artist Helen Knight, who has been awarded the installation residency at Contains Art in spring 2018.

SHROUDS OF THE SOMME LAUNCHES IN LONDON

Shrouds of the Somme, an extraordinary commemorative art project, has been launched in London with a crowdfunder campaign which began on Wednesday 10 May, asking people to be part of this awe-inspiring installation.

A total of 72,396 shrouded figures will be laid out in rows in London to mark the centenary of Armistice Day in 2018. Each 12-inch figure represents a British serviceman* who died at the Battle of the Somme but whose body was never recovered. Every one is bound by West Somerset artist Rob Heard into a hand-stitched calico shroud and made to a name identified by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Rob will spend a total of 15,000 hours to achieve this staggering feat. He must work for 15 hours every day to get the memorial done in time for the centenary of Armistice Day.

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Mr Kenneth Olisa OBE, said, “Shrouds of the Somme is a very imaginative and special piece of commemorative art. We are delighted and honoured that this installation is coming to London to mark the Centenary of the end of the Great War.  The Shrouds will be of huge significance.”

Last year Rob created 19,240 shrouded figures to represent each soldier killed on the first day of Battle of the Somme. These were laid out in Exeter and Bristol, giving a powerful and poignant reminder of the loss during the anniversary of the battle. Now Rob needs to make 60,000 more shrouds to represent each of the 72,396 British servicemen whose bodies were never recovered from the Somme battlefields.

Taking five years to create, Rob’s work is a feat of endurance and an act of humility.  The idea for the artwork behind the shrouds, in which figures representing the dead are laid out in rows on the grass, came to him in 2013 while he was recovering from a car crash which damaged both his hands. He began thinking about military fatalities in history and how impossible it was to visualise the huge numbers involved.

Rob said, “The idea for stitching 72,000 shrouds came when a man at the display in Exeter told me that his great uncle was killed on the first day of the Somme but his body was never recovered. He said ‘this feels like he is back on British soil for the first time in 100 years.’ That got me thinking that if anybody should come home, it should be those whose bodies weren’t recovered. Some were blown to bits, others buried where they lay with no known grave.”

As he makes the shrouds, Rob refers to a list of names of the British servicemen recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves commission and engraved on the Thiepval Memorial in France.  Each figure is associated with a name so that each one is individually acknowledged and remembered. Rob works his way down the list, crossing off a name for each figure created. He cuts and hand-stitches their calico shrouds, then covers and binds the figures in the shrouds in a ritual of creation, remembrance and personal introspection. As each figure is wrapped they take on their own form, twisting and bending into their own unique shape.

Chairman of The Shrouds of the Somme Committee, Commodore Jake Moores, said: “Rob’s work is one of the most powerful acts of Remembrance I have seen throughout my military career. This exhibition touches the hearts of all those who are privileged to witness it.”

We need the public’s help to bring this important installation to London for the Centenary of the end of the war so that the nation can experience, unflinchingly, the true scale of the losses in an extraordinary display of remembrance. The Shrouds team have chosen to raise the money through crowdfunding because it is a communal effort towards a common aim. The money raised will pay for the figures, the calico shrouds and associated costs with the project. By raising funds in this way, we will collectively honour the men who made the ultimate sacrifice for our shared freedom.

Help make this vision a reality and be part of this incredible act of remembrance, find out more at: www.shroudsofthesomme.com

The short launch film is at: https://vimeo.com/214206396/7606127165

* This number includes 829 South African infantrymen

PHOTO: Rob Heard, by kind permission of Bowater Communications