Category Archives: Arts and Culture

WEST COUNTRY BLACKSMITHS NOMINATED FOR MORE AWARDS!

Exmoor-based bespoke metalwork specialists West Country Blacksmiths have had two  separate projects shortlisted for the 2019 GAGA Construction Awards alongside projects which include Aerospace in Bristol, the London Palladium Wall of Fame Project and Crystal Palace Park Café

The two bespoke projects were fully designed and made by the highly skilled craftsmen of West Country Blacksmiths who are based at the stunning stone-built Allerford Forge, which has been at heart of the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate on the edge of Exmoor in Somerset for hundreds of years.

One of the projects shortlisted was a project undertaken for the Lillycombe Estate in Porlock, Somerset. The project required the team to design, make and install three pairs of bespoke entrance gates, two pedestrian gates and large sections of estate railing. The metalwork was designed to a traditional estate metalwork style, and produced to the very highest standards with an abundance of hand-forged details.

The second project shortlisted was a project undertaken at a residential property in Bristol (pictured), where the team designed, made and installed a large variety of metalwork, which included a bespoke balcony, rooftop railings, a gate, handrails, and garden railings. The metalwork was designed to a traditional style to be in keeping with the property, and include stunning high-quality handcrafted details including organic leaf and scroll work.

Both projects were selected in the award category of detail. Iqbal Johal, one of four judges of the GAGA Awards, said, “We received a record number of nominations this year and the 2019 GAGAs had an impressive shortlist which included the Lillycombe Estate and Orchard Cottage project completed by West Country Blacksmiths. The fine craftmanship of West Country Blacksmiths made both Orchard Cottage and Lillycombe Estate easy choices as shortlisted projects for our Awards. The variety of work, detailing and quality of finish made them stand out in comparison with the competition.”

All the metalwork was finished with a galvanised and antique acid etch finish to offer the benefits of a fully rust-proof and maintenance-free finish, whilst giving the metalwork a beautiful unique rustic look.

The ceremony, which marks the 25th anniversary of the awards, will be attended by the smiths on 7 June at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. Previous winning projects of the awards will also be celebrated at the event, including the Eden Project in Cornwall and the Imperial War Museum in Manchester.

The award nominations come only a few months after the team were awarded the highly acclaimed Staircase of the Year Award at the Architects’ Journal Architecture Specification Award 2019. The award was given for bespoke staircase project completed for a property in the nature reserve of Sartfell Mountain on the Isle of Man in partnership with Foster Lomas Architects.

West Country Blacksmiths Company Director Kieren Roberts said, “We are very grateful for the recognition we have received already this year. We are privileged to have an incredibly talented team and together we work extremely hard to produce metalwork to the very best standards to suit all projects and design preferences. The support we get from the local community is incredible. By this I don’t just mean in inviting us to undertake work for them, but also by helping to share the work we produce and by recommending us to others; we rely on this support.”

Find out more on the West Country Blacksmiths website.

SIMONSBATH FESTIVAL EVENTS THIS WEEKEND AND NEXT WEEK

Simonsbath Festival continues this weekend and next week with three events:

Friday 24 May, 10am at Brendon Two Gates – a walk arranged by the Exmoor Society – To Badgworthy and Doone Country. Join Archaeologist Rob Wilson-North for a four-mile walk over rough moorland in the footsteps of Lorna Doone author R.D. Blackmore. An exploration of one of Exmoor’s most remote places, see Blackmore’s memorial stone and the remains of a medieval village. Dogs welcome on leads. Free entry but donations to Exmoor Society are welcome.

Saturday 25 May, 7.30pm at St Luke’s Church – A night at the Opera. Opera singers Isobel Hughes and Tom Asher (pictured). Isobel is about to finish her studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and is a soprano with a warm-mezzo like quality. Tom is a baritone, a recent alumni of English National Opera who studied at the Royal Northern College of Music. There will be a programme of opera arias. Tickets are £15 reserved seating or £10 unreserved seating, with a light supper available for £5 booked in advance.

Wednesday 29 May, 7.30pm at St Luke’s Church – a talk by Tim Bonner (Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance) – From Hunting to Post Offices. Tim talks about how the Countryside Alliance continues to be the voice of Rural Britain by actively promoting and defending farming, rural services, small businesses and country sports. Tickets are £10 reserved seating or £5 unreserved seating, with a light supper available for £5 booked in advance.

Information, tickets and food bookings available by phone 01643 831451 or via the festival website at www.simonsbathfestival.org.uk

STEAM PUNK FESTIVAL COMES TO THE REGAL THEATRE, MINEHEAD

Steam Punk is a nationwide organisation, promoting events across the UK which attract crowds of people who arrive in their steampunk gear. As part of the Minehead Early May Steampunk Festival there will be two events at the Regal Theatre on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 May.

On Saturday the Steampunk Cabaret Show will stage Victor Sierra, a three-piece band from Paris featuring Commander Bob, The Legendary Converted Princess and Big Machine. They have played at steampunk festivals in Europe, the UK, and America and have produced five well-received albums of original music.

Acting as Master of Ceremonies will be Greg Chapman (pictured), magician, comedian, juggler, unicyclist, escapologist and storyteller – one can never tell what he’ll do next!  He will introduce support acts, Doctor Gray and his Orchestra of One, Kiss Like Ether, Ichabod Steam, the beautiful Lux DeLioux and Ichabod Steam performing his new Dark Side Gothic Adventure.

On Sunday at the Steampunk Variety Show, MC Greg Chapman will appear again to introduce The Wattingers who describe themselves as Slaughterhouse Steampunk Blues.  These brilliant musicians present their original songs and videos with a dark sense of humour.  Support acts include Kiss Like Ether, The Retro Clones (one-man act supported by moving images of himself playing other instruments), and the beautiful Lux DeLioux.  (Same lovely Lux, different routine!)

Both performances starts at 7.30pm and tickets cost as follows: Adults £16, Friends £15.50, students/children/ES40s £10. They are available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), which is open
10am-3pm Monday-Saturday or online at www.regaltheatre.co.uk.

LORNA DOONE ANNIVERSARY EVENTS BEGIN IN APRIL

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by Victorian author R.D. Blackmore. This classic novel, set within the atmospheric Exmoor National Park, has never been out of print. Inspired by the natural beauty of the area, Blackmore’s love story includes historic events, such as The Great Winter and the Monmouth Rebellion, within the book as well as various local legends of the notorious Doones and the highway man Tom Faggus. The vivid descriptions of the most stunning, remote and rugged parts of Exmoor still apply today.

Throughout 2019 there will be a whole host of events to celebrate Lorna Doone and the special landscapes that gave rise to this ever-popular story. The focal point of this anniversary will be the Dulverton Heritage Centre who are holding a year-long exhibition starting in April. Curator Sue Baker explains, “The exhibition is a celebration of Lorna Doone; the author, story, setting and characters of this enduring love story.” She continues, “We’ve also included a feature on how Lorna Doone has been dramatised for stage, television and cinema, with stories of how local people have been involved.”

Visitors can explore the landscape that framed the book with a series of guided walks and talks from Wild About Exmoor throughout the summer. There is a family weekend taking place in Dulverton 29/30 June, complete with dramatic re-enactments. At Valley of Rocks, the Pleasure Dome Theatre Company are putting on outdoor theatre performances of Lorna Doone between 20 and 31 August as the sun sets.

The prestigious Two Moors Festival is also involved. The festival’s Artistic Director, Penny Adie, has commissioned a brand new work based on the well-loved story. The composition will be scored for solo voices, choir, instrumentalists and narrator and will be performed at All Saints Church in Dulverton on 12 October with professional musicians and students from Blundells School in Tiverton where Blackmore himself studied. Many other events are taking place.

Jennette Baxter, Marketing Manager for Visit Exmoor, welcomes the celebrations. “Many visitors are inspired to Visit Exmoor after reading Lorna Doone. This special anniversary allows us to highlight the contribution Blackmore’s novel has made to the area. We are delighted that businesses are taking the opportunity to commemorate the occasion. Visit Exmoor has produced a handy pocket guide as an introduction to some of the best places to visit to evoke those Lorna Doone moments.”

Visitors can check all event details and download a guide via www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk or pick up a leaflet at one of the three Exmoor National Park Centres in Dulverton, Lynmouth and Dunster.

Photo courtesy of Lycia Moore, Taunton Garrison

A LIFE IN COLOUR: THE ART OF DORIS HATT

The life and works of a remarkable Somerset artist, with a revolutionary spirit, are being celebrated in a new exhibition opening at the Museum of Somerset on 16 March.

The twentieth-century artist Doris Hatt (1890–1969) was a Somerset pioneer of British modernism. She exhibited her vibrant works over almost five decades, beginning in 1920, and contributed to many exhibitions in the South West.

Sam Astill, Head of Museums at the South West Heritage Trust, said: “Doris Hatt was a woman ahead of her time – a feminist and socialist whose remarkable life and artistic achievements have remained surprisingly little known.”

Doris’ painting style developed over time as she absorbed the major influences of twentieth-century modernism, including cubism, purism, abstraction and the works of Cézanne, Picasso, Braque, Dufy and Léger. Her work includes portraiture, still lifes and landscapes. Clevedon, Watchet, East Quantoxhead and Wedmore are among the recognisable South West landscapes depicted in her art.

Doris’ modernist approach extended beyond her work as an artist. She designed her own Art Deco/Bauhaus style home in Clevedon where she lived with her partner Margery Mack Smith, a school teacher and weaver. It became a meeting place for radical activity in both the arts and politics. As a member of the Communist Party, Doris twice stood unsuccessfully for local election.

Co-curator Denys Wilcox from The Court Gallery added: “For 50 years Doris was an acknowledged but under-appreciated artist. We look forward to this exhibition bringing Doris Hatt the wider recognition she so richly deserves.”

The exhibition ‘A Life in Colour: The Art of Doris Hatt’ is being produced in association with the Court Gallery. It will be open at the Museum of Somerset, Taunton, from 16 March to 29 June.

The Museum of Somerset is part of the South West Heritage Trust, an independent charity that protects and celebrates Somerset and Devon’s rich heritage.

Visit museumofsomerset.org.uk

#dorishattcolour

EASTER HOLIDAY OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS

Calling young musicians and singers of secondary school age; do you want to do something amazing with your Easter break this year?! Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, would love to welcome you to their ‘Halsway Young Folk – Intro’ week. This is an exciting and enjoyable music residential (Monday 8 to Friday 12 April), run by young professional folk musicians, to introduce you to traditional music. You’ll need to have experience as a singer or musician (any instrument is fine), but it’s ok to be completely new to folk.

You’ll stay at Halsway Manor, near Crowcombe, for a week packed with practical music workshops. You’ll work in large and small groups discovering folk music: you’ll learn new songs and tunes, you’ll create new musical interpretations and arrangements, you’ll work on performance skills, and rehearse for a performance at the end of the course. You’ll be working hard during the days, but the evenings will include fun activities for you to get to know each other, socialise and have fun.

The week is led by musician / teacher Will Lang, with Nicola Lyons (4Square), Alex Garden (The Drystones) and Claire Bailey (Pastoral Lead). Together they’ll support you in developing your musical skills, and help you create music that you love and can be proud to perform.

Interested? Each place costs £195 to include full board (accommodation and all meals), tuition and all activities. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Halsway Manor for an application form: 01984 618274 ext 1 / office@halswaymanor.org.uk or visit the website www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

Bursary places may be available to young people with exceptional talent or for whom the opportunity would be especially beneficial, but whose financial circumstances would otherwise exclude them from the programme.

Further ‘Halsway Young Folk’ courses in 2019 include ‘Junior’ for ages 8-12 (Tue 20 – Thu 22 Aug), ‘Intermediate’ for ages 13-18 (Mon 29 July – Sat 3 Aug), and ‘Advanced’ for ages 16+ (Mon 19 – Mon 26 Aug). See website for details.

HESTERCOMBE GARDENS YOUNG WRITERS SPRING POETRY COMPETITION

With the onset of spring, and as a nod to their newest restoration project at Hestercombe, young writers are being invited to enter their poetry competition on the theme of ‘spring’.

With the unveiling of Sibyl’s Temple, a recreation of a magnificent eighteenth-century building in Hestercombe’s Georgian Landscape garden, winners of the competition will get the chance to read their poem at the official ceremony on Wednesday 17 April and will also be invited to take part in a writing masterclass with one of the competition’s judges, international bestselling author Vicky Holmes. Winners will also get £25 in book tokens to spend on their favourite reads.

Best known as Erin Hunter, Vicky Holmes is creator of the global phenomenon Warrior Cats which is currently being turned into a movie franchise by the producer behind the Harry Potter films.

In the UK, she is more familiar as Daisy Meadows, author of Rainbow Magic, and as Lucy Daniels who created the enduring Animal Ark series. Vicky has never grown out of her childhood love of horses, all of which feature in the popular series Heartland and Chestnut Hill under the name Lauren Brooke.

Alongside Vicky, there will be a number of special guest judges, including Hestercombe’s Chief Executive, Philip White MBE.

The age categories for the competition are split into three: 11 and under, 12-15 and 16-21.

How to enter:

Online at www.hestercombe.com/poetry

By post to: Spring Poetry Competition, Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, Somerset, TA2 8LG.

Please include the name and age of the poet, and a contact number on postal entries.

Closing date for entries is 1 April.

WEST COUNTRY BLACKSMITHS SHORTLISTED FOR AWARD

A bespoke staircase project made in Somerset by Exmoor-based West Country Blacksmiths has been shortlisted for the Architects’ Journal Architecture specification award 2019 in the category of ‘Stairs and Lifts’. The staircase was created for a property in the nature reserve of Sartfell Mountain on the Isle of Man.

The project is a real Somerset-based collaboration. The house was designed by Foster Lomas, a London-based architects practice which was originally founded by friends Greg Lomas and Will Foster who both grew up in Somerset and visit family in Somerset regularly. The metalwork design concept was developed between architects, CAD Designer John Hesp of Porlock and West Country Blacksmiths based near Minehead.

The central feature of the property is eight tons’ worth of bespoke metalwork all made by West Country Blacksmiths at their historic National Trust Forge on the Holnicote Estate near Minehead. The metalwork includes two staircases and walkways made from steel and perforated stainless steel and also incorporates steel bookshelves which span over two floors.

The metalwork has been finished with a unique antiquing acid etch treatment with a protective lacquered finish with exception of the handrail which has been hand polished prior to the protective lacquer finishing. The treads and walkways have been made from perforated stainless steel which has been grain polished.

The team took over seven months to develop the design and produce metalwork which was sent from Somerset to the Isle of Man on two lorries with the team’s tools. The craftsmen of West Country Blacksmiths flew out to meet and carry out the installation of their metalwork which took over seven days to complete.

West Country Blacksmiths co-founder said, “We were privileged to be given the opportunity to work on this project and we’re extremely proud of what the team involved in the project have produced. We are so proud that the quality of design and execution of this metalwork has been recognised by industry experts and shortlisted as one of the six best ‘Stairs and Lifts’ projects in the country.”

The awards will take place on 15 February in Manchester and will be attended by the team involved in the project.

The building was also shortlisted in the AJ Architects ‘House of the Year’ category for 2018.

PHOTO: by Edmund Sumner.

NUMBER SEVEN DULVERTON WALKING BOOK CLUB

Number Seven Dulverton’s first walk of 2019 is going to be a little bit different from the norm as they are delighted to say that the author, Tom Cox, will be joining them.

21st-Century Yokel explores the way we can be tied inescapably to landscape, whether we like it or not, often through our family and our past. It’s not quite a nature book, not quite a humour book, not quite a family memoir, not quite folklore, not quite social history, not quite a collection of essays, but a bit of all six.

It contains owls, badgers, ponies, beavers, otters, bats, bees, scarecrows, dogs, ghosts, Tom’s loud and excitable dad and, yes, even a few cats. It’s full of Devon’s local folklore – the ancient kind, and the everyday kind – and provincial places and small things. But what emerges from this focus on the small are themes that are broader and bigger and more definitive.

The book’s language is colloquial and easy and its eleven chapters are discursive and wide-ranging, rambling even. The feel of the book has a lot in common with the country walks Tom Cox was on when he composed much of it: it’s bewitched by fresh air, intrepid in minor ways, haunted by weather and old stories and the spooky edges of the outdoors, restless, sometimes foolish, and prone to a few detours… but it always reaches its intended destination.

‘A hybrid of nature writing, memoir, and social history, it rambles, leisurely, through the English countryside, often pausing to ponder the relationship between people and place.’ Observer

‘A rich, strange, oddly glorious brew… Cox’s writing is loose-limbed, engaging and extremely funny, and time spent in his company is time very pleasantly spent.’ Guardian

If you wish to join the March walk and talk booking is essential.

‘Tickets’ are priced at £17 which includes a hardback copy of 21st-Century Yokel, which Tom will sign for you on the day. For anyone who already owns a copy, the ticket price is £10.

If you are based further afield but would like to attend, Number Seven Dulverton can pop a copy in the post, postage within the UK costs just £3; simply contact the Number Seven to make arrangements.

Happy sociable dogs welcome, cats optional…

Find out more at www.numbersevendulverton.co.uk/marchwalktomcox

CONCERT: KEVIN DEMPSEY AND JOW BROUGHTON


Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, are delighted to be welcoming an outstanding duo, Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton, to perform at the Manor on Sunday 10 February at 7pm. ​ Since forming in 1999 this duo have recorded four albums and toured extensively in over 20 countries around the world. Combining emotive songs, striking instrumental capability and plenty of energy, they never fail to create a playful and entertaining atmosphere.

Kevin has a fantastic voice and is widely regarded as one of Europe’s great acoustic guitar players, whilst Joe is a master of fiddle pyrotechnics. The list of musicians they have played with is impressive – Whippersnapper, Mary Black, Joss Stone, Dando Shaft, The Urban Folk Quartet, Fairport Convention, The Albion Band, Dave Swarbrick, Percy Sledge, and, of course, folk super group, Bellowhead. To pigeon-hole their style of music would be to do them a disservice. They draw on folk music from all corners of the world and their experience in jazz, soul, classical, pop and Rock music takes their style into original and uncharted territory.

The performance at Halsway will be a small and informal gathering and a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the duo.

Tickets are priced £10; £4 student concessions. Buy securely online at www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

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!