Category Archives: Arts and Culture

ACTOR JIM CARTER ANNOUNCED AS PATRON OF SHROUDS OF THE SOMME

The Shrouds of the Somme team are delighted to announce that Jim Carter is Patron of the project.


Jim Carter is perhaps best known to today‘s audiences  for his portrayal of Mr Carson, the butler, in ITV’s hit drama Downton Abbey, for which he has received four nominations as Best Supporting Actor at the Emmy Awards.  Jim has also worked extensively in film and television  – A Private Function, Brassed Off, Shakespeare in Love, The Singing Detective and Cranford being amongst his personal favourites.

Shrouds of the Somme is an extraordinary arts remembrance installation, depicting 72,396 hand-stitched shrouded figures laid out in perfect rows. Each figure represents a soldier who died at the Battle of the Somme but whose body was never recovered from the battlefield.

Jim says:

Last summer I was part of a very moving recital in Exeter Cathedral with Show of Hands to commemorate the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Running in tandem with the recital was one of the most extraordinary artworks I have ever witnessed.  It was called ‘Shrouds of the Somme’. It was an acutely moving depiction of loss and remembrance.

Artist Rob Heard had created 19,240 individually shrouded figures, each about 12 inches tall, and laid them out in symmetrical lines that seemed to stretch forever in an Exeter park. Alongside this memorial was a tent with lists of names of those 19,240 figures – all those who had lost their lived on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

When The Last Post was played over those figures, over those lists , over those lost lives, it was one of the most moving depictions of loss and the folly of war that one could have imagined.

And now Rob Heard is working 15 hours a day, 7 days a week to complete this act of remembrance. To mark the centenary of Armistice Day in 2018, he is hand stitching 72,396 individually shrouded figures which will be laid out in perfect rows to represent the British and South African soldiers killed at the Battle of the Somme who have no known grave.

Each figure represents a named soldier. Each figure is unique.

The scale of Rob’s task is unimaginable but then so is the scale of the loss of life 100 years ago.

This artwork is stunning because it represents grief in such a graphic manner and it gives those lost lives a name and a place in our memories forever.

I support this project and would urge others to support it too in the hope that devastation like this will never happen again.

We will remember them.

Artist Rob heard is crowdfunding to pay for the materials to create the exhibition, to help support him go to www.shroudsofthesomme.com

PHOTO AT TOP: By Mark Thurkettle.

NEW MUSEUM OPENS TO CELEBRATE SOMERSET”S HERITAGE

A celebration of Somerset’s heritage is taking place at Somerset Rural Life Museum when it re-opens on Saturday 3 June. Local people are invited to join the South West Heritage Trust for opening day at the refurbished Museum, which tells the rich story of Somerset’s rural and social history.

The day will begin with an opening ceremony at 11am. It will mark 100 years since George and Louisa Mapstone took the tenancy of Abbey Farm in 1917. Their granddaughter, Margaret Shreeve, who grew up on the farm, will be part of the opening ceremony. She will be joined by children from Elmhurst Junior School in Street. Based on Margaret’s recollections of farm life the children have created a painting which is on permanent display in the Museum.

Following the ceremony, the Museum will be open for the first visitors to explore the new galleries in the farmhouse and former cowsheds, as well as to see the farmyard, the orchard and the magnificent fourteenth-century Abbey Barn. There will be traditional village games, music, and delicious local food to enjoy. Families can discover the history of the farm on a fun family trail around the site. Visitors will also be able to enjoy the museum’s first exhibition, ‘FARM’, a collection of paintings and drawings by local artist Kate Lynch who will be there on the day.

The Museum is re-opening following completion of a £2.4 million redevelopment project led by the Trust. Visitors to the Glastonbury museum will be able to explore rural life from the 1800s onwards and discover more about the county’s heritage including its landscape, food and farming, working life and rural crafts.

To mark the opening weekend the Trust is offering special free admission on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 June. The Museum, on Chilkwell Street, will be open from 11am on Saturday and 10am on Sunday and closes at 5pm.

The redevelopment project was chiefly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Viridor Credits Environmental Company, Somerset County Council, the Garfield Weston Foundation and other generous funders. The Trust is also most grateful to Somerset Building Preservation Trust and the Friends of the Somerset Rural Life Museum for their consistent support. Building work was undertaken by Ken Biggs Contractors Ltd.

For more information visit www.swheritage.org.uk/rural-life-museum.

 

 

 

Kind regards,

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.

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

ALISTAIR ANDERSON AT HALSWAY MANOR

Alistair Anderson – internationally acknowledged as the master of the English Concertina and a fine exponent of the Northumbrian Pipes – will be performing an intimate gig at Halsway Manor on Saturday 13 May at 8pm.

Alistair delights audiences with traditional music from Northumberland and beyond, as well as his own music, which has grown out of his love of these traditions. As a touring soloist, he has no less than 37 tours of the USA, 5 trips to Australia and countless European tours to his credit.

“Anderson is a treat to watch, as well; his own involvement and delight in the music are infectious. Beautiful music, played with skill, taste and affection. His own tunes are particularly welcome; recognisably working from traditional styles he nevertheless introduces quirky personal touches which give them a real charm and individuality. My only complaint is that the slow airs never last quite as long as I want them to.” fRoots

Alistair has a very wide range of experience as a musical catalyst and educator. He is visiting Halsway for this weekend to lead a concertina master class; inspiring a whole new generation of musicians. Be sure to experience the energy and skill of this master musician at work and expect a thrilling and memorable evening in picturesque and historical surroundings.

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. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch-up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets for the gig are priced £10 / £4 for anyone in full-time education. To book, call 01984 618274 (option 1), email office@halswaymanor.org.uk or buy securely online www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

NEW STATUE TO BE UNVEILED IN LYNMOUTH BY BBC COUNTRYFILE’S JOHN CRAVEN

BBC Countryfile’s John Craven is unveiling an iconic new statue, ‘The Walker’, on The Esplanade in Lynmouth on Monday 8 May.

Commissioned to mark the end of The Coleridge Way long-distance walking route, ‘The Walker’ also indicates the closing stage of The Two Moors Way, as well as pinpointing where both these walks intersect with the South West Coast Path; the UK’s longest national trail.

Designed and constructed by local craftsman Richard Graham, the statue will be made from reinforced 8mm marine quality stainless steel wire and shows a larger-than-life walker stretching out his hand in greeting.

Lynton’s Mayor Suzette Hibbert, a director of the Lyn Community Development Trust, said, “We asked Richard to make a model of a walker with which the visitors could interact, we were very keen to make them aware of Lynmouth’s role as a premier walking destination and The Walker fits the brief perfectly.”

The project was led by the Lyn Community Development Trust and the design has been endorsed by the Lyn Economic and Tourism Alliance (LETA), the Cliff Railway, the Art and Crafts Centre, Andrea Davis (County Councillor), John Patrinos (District Councillor), the Coleridge Way Steering Group and Exmoor National Park. Together with the Lyn Community Development Trust all have made financial contributions to complete the project.

“It’s exciting to have this iconic statue on the seafront at Lynmouth,” commented Jennette Baxter, Development Manager, Visit Exmoor. “Its position at the conjunction of three great long distance trails celebrates the sheer choice of walks available in the area and highlights Exmoor as the place to go for a great walking experience.”

PHOTO: Courtesy Exmoor NP flickr

JIMMY ALDRIDGE AND SID GOLDSMITH AT HALSWAY

Acclaimed folk duo Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith will be appearing at Halsway Manor near Crowcombe on Sunday 7 May at 7pm, for an early-evening ‘unplugged’ performance.

“Every now and then an act jumps out at you and knocks you back,” says folk broadcaster Mike Harding. “Top notch” is the verdict of Folk Radio, “rousing stuff” say the Observer, while “Everyone at fRoots is pretty excited about Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith, and for good reason” (fRoots Magazine).

Jimmy and Sid arrived on the scene in 2014 with their unique style of strong harmony singing and considered musical arrangements. Recent album ‘Night Hours’ (Fellside Records) won the duo both critical and audience acclaim, with the pair becoming festival favourites last year, and their success is set to continue with a new album released this summer.

Jimmy and Sid play traditional and original folksong of the British Isles. They tell stories of hardship, joy, struggle and celebration held together with driving banjo and guitar arrangements and close vocal harmonies. They have both been heavily influenced by the songs and singers of East Anglia, where they both grew up, but their music also reflects the diversity of voices within the folk and acoustic world. They weave traditional English folksong with Irish, Scottish and American tunes, and their own compositions draw on many different styles.

The songs on their new album have been picked up from sessions, singarounds, gigs, recordings and learned from friends. The stories are varied but there is a common thread of political struggle and resistance, and the decline of the industries that were the backbone of England for many generations.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills, it provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch-up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets for the gig are priced £10 / £4 for anyone in full-time education. To book, call 01984 618274 (option 1), email office@halswaymanor.org.uk or buy securely online www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

BRITTEN, BLISS AND HOLST – BRIDGWATER CHORAL SOCIETY CONCERT

by Jenny McCubbin
For Bridgwater Choral Society

Saints and satyrs, cantatas and psalms – Bridgwater Choral Society is preparing a wide-ranging programme of twentieth-century music for your enjoyment at their next concert on Saturday 6 May which takes place at 7.30pm at Bridgwater Baptist Church.

Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) was a composer and conductor who embraced modernism. He composed music for ballet, film and later for television, and became Director of Music at the BBC where he was instrumental in setting up the Third Programme after World War II. His Pastoral was inspired by a trip to the classical landscape of Sicily in the late 1920s. He collected and set to music an ‘anthology’ of pastoral poems, arranged in the form of a day moving from first light through to evening. The setting is for choir, mezzo-soprano, flute, timpani and strings. Elgar admitted to being a little ‘puzzled’ by some of it but suitably flattered that Bliss had dedicated the work to him!

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) composed St Nicholas in the form on a cantata in nine scenes, describing the life, faith and miracles performed by St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, patron saint of children, sailors and travellers. The piece is for choir, tenor soloist, and children, and was premiered in 1948 at the first Aldburgh Festival. We are fortunate to welcome back tenor Dominick Felix as soloist, and to have members of the Taunton School choir joining us for this performance.

Both Bliss and Britten were influenced by Gustav Holst (1874-1934) and we complete the programme with his Two Psalms for choir, organ and strings.

Please join us for the celebration concert on 6 May in Bridgwater.

The concert will take place in the Bridgwater Baptist Church (not St Mary’s as previously  advertised). This beautiful Grade II listed building was built in 1837 by Edwin Down and features a stunning classical frontage with pediment and cornice of Bath stone. It is located in St Mary Street, Bridgwater TA6 3LY.

Tickets are £10 and are available on the door or via our website www.bridgwaterchoral.org Tickets are £10 for adults (under-16s go free but must be accompanied by an adult) or £8 for the Friends of Bridgwater Choral Society.

 

NEW VIEWING AREA FOR VERITY IS NOW COMPLETE

Work to provide a new seating and information area next to the Verity sculpture in Ilfracombe is complete.

The project to re-landscape the area around the sculpture to provide a larger viewing platform, seating and lighting was finished last week with the installation of a new information plinth.

Damien Hirst’s 20-metre sculpture was loaned to North Devon Council by For Giving CIC in 2012. The information plinth is located at the foot of Verity and provides visitors with information on what the statue is all about.

Ilfracombe Harbour Master, Rob Lawson (pictured), says: “Completion of the re-landscaping works have provided an exceptional new viewing area for the statue.  The materials used, both in colour and texture, have enhanced the Verity experience and I feel privileged to be able to see this iconic landmark every day.  Verity will continue to provide much interest and discussion for the many visitors who come to see her and I would like to thank Mr Hirst for his continued support of Ilfracombe.”

Work started on the final phase of the project in November 2016. Since Verity has been installed she has become a popular draw for tourists and this work will further enhance the Pier area and improve the visitor experience.