Category Archives: Arts and Culture

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!

CONCERT AT HALSWAYS: MARTIN TAYLOR & MARTIN SIMPSON

Award-winning jazz guitarist Martin Taylor has teamed up with acoustic and slide guitar virtuoso Martin Simpson to perform a number of selected dates across the UK – including an appearance at Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, on Sunday 2 December at 7pm.

The pair share the stage throughout the performance – adding to each other’s songs and instrumental pieces, and taking them to sublime new heights. This is an unmissable evening for guitar and acoustic music fans, in the company of two guitar-playing legends working in harmony.

“Martin Taylor is one of the most awesome solo guitar players in the history of the instrument. He’s unbelievable.” (Pat Metheny)

Martin Taylor was name-checked on BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show as being considered THE best guitarist by no less than Jeff Beck – leading to a live session on the show the next morning. Completely self taught, he has enjoyed a remarkable musical career spanning four decades and during that time has invented and developed a way of playing the guitar that is admired, and often imitated, by guitarists all over the world.

As well as being a true guitar innovator, he is also a master concert performer, dazzling audiences with his solo shows, which combine virtuosity, emotion and humour, with a strong stage presence. He has collaborated with musicians from many different musical genre including Stephane Grappelli, Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, George Harrison, Dionne Warwick, Bryn Terfel and Jamie Cullum. In 2002, he was appointed MBE “For Services To Jazz Music”, in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List, which he received personally from Her Majesty The Queen at an investiture at Buckingham Palace.

“Martin Simpson’s performances elicit powerful emotions and subtle, understated beauty.” (Guitar Player)

After 35 years as a professional musician, Martin Simpson is widely acknowledged as one of the finest acoustic and slide guitar players in the world, and his interpretations of traditional songs are masterpieces of storytelling. His solo shows are intense, eclectic, spellbinding and deeply moving.

Martin has been nominated an astounding 23 times in the 11 years of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – more than any other performer – with 9 consecutive years as nominee for Musician of The Year, which he has won twice. Whether playing American old-time music, blues, a Dylan song or his own material, Martin Simpson is unpredictable, individual and a guitarist of immense subtlety.

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 intimate concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to talk with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets are priced £20; buy securely online at www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

 

‘MATERIALITY’ EXHIBITION OPENS AT HESTERCOMBE

An exhibition inspired by the surroundings of Hestercombe will showcase the work of three artists this autumn/winter.

Sarah Bennett, Megan Calver and Philippa Lawrence have been directly engaged with Hestercombe House and Gardens over three years and the resulting exhibition has developed from these experiences.

Materiality: provisional states runs from 10 November 2018 until 24 February 2019 at Hestercombe Gallery and features exhibits using a range of media from photography, sculpture to drawing and text.

Sarah Bennett’s practice investigates institutional sites, both historical and contemporary, in UK and international settings, employing a range of artistic research methods and material processes including: digital recording, facsimile object making, observational drawing, and embodied actions. She is Head of School of Art and Architecture at Kingston University, and chairs educational events in art schools, universities and arts organisations in Europe and the USA.

Megan Calver’s new work is an iteration of her enquiry into expressions of taste and attitudes to perceived imperfections, first presented in a group show at Hestercombe in 2015. Megan Calver’s approach is process-led and for the past ten years she has focused her site-related investigations throughout the South West of England where collaborations with people and places have grown and taken hold.

After a deep study of the Hestercombe landscape, Philippa Lawrence offers works that ask us to perceive things we may have overlooked or not considered, tracing humankind’s activity in managing an estate and nature. Philippa has exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally, including in America, Japan, Czech Republic, Canada, Iceland and Australia.

Collectively interested in issues related to labour and the management of landscape and nature, Materiality: provisional states aims to examine and critique human and non-human centred activity found in Hestercombe’s past and present. The exhibition stems from archival research as well as ‘Disclosures and Dialogues’, a series of dialogue sessions with artists, curators, historians, academics and garden practitioners.

 

EXMOOR COMMUNITY MUSIC PROJECT COMMEMORATES FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY

Article and photos by Elizabeth Atkinson, Project Manager for ‘Fragments: Voices from the First World War’

West Somerset will be hosting the world première of a new choral piece by local composer Emily Feldberg on 10 November, involving more than 90 musicians from across Exmoor and beyond. Fragments: Voices from the First World War brings together the voices of British and German people caught up in the war, using original sources from the time. It will have its première at Minehead Avenue Methodist Church on the eve of the centenary of Armistice Day, and will be conducted by leading choral conductor Nigel Perrin. Tickets for the evening performance have already sold out, but there is still an opportunity to hear Fragments at the open rehearsal on the afternoon of 10 November, at the same venue, starting at 2pm.

The composer, who lives in Carhampton, started work on the hour-long piece in 2014, at the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict, and completed it earlier this year. “Writing any music about the First World War is extremely emotional,” she said. “I have spent the last four years both crying for the tragedy and questioning whether I was representing people’s experiences appropriately. I have really tried to let the voices of German and British participants speak for themselves.”

A wide range of texts dating from the First World War have been used for the piece, including the words of a Devon farmer, a Ruhr miner, a German soldier, a woman munitions worker, a grieving mother, a conscientious objector’s memoirs, the Somme Army report, a humorous poem from the Wipers Times and verses found on a scrap of newspaper in a German railway carriage in 1918. Different musical styles in the piece reflect this range. Starting and ending with the words, ‘Lest we forget,’ the music moves the listener from the first swells of patriotic fervour through the tragedy of loss, to the jaunty defiance in the face of danger of the Tommies in the trenches and the women in the munitions factories, and the horrors experienced in the mire of the Somme. It takes in both the agony of decision for conscientious objectors and the stoicism of young British and German soldiers in the face of impending death. The piece draws to an end with the sombre reflection that ‘Peace has come to a suffering world’ and the implied challenge expressed in the words of Quaker peace campaigner Corder Catchpool (1919): “We are only justified in going on living if our futures manifest, at every point and at all times, a heroism equal to that of those killed in battle.”

From the outset, this project has been shaped by the input of many different people in many different ways. “Composing a piece of music is only the beginning,” said Emily. “People have shared stories, suggested ideas, provided texts and given advice and encouragement. Each new contribution has changed and widened the end product. It really has become a community project, not only because of the number of people involved in the first performance, but also because of those who have influenced its development.” Even the publicity has drawn on local inspiration, featuring graffiti scratched into the lead roof of Carhampton church tower 100 years ago: ‘PEACE NOV 11 18’.

The title of the piece was the result of much debate. Eventually, the idea came from Di Osborn of Roadwater, whose husband John is singing in the performance: “I thought perhaps you could call it just Fragments: Voices from the First World War,” she wrote, “then the ‘fragments’ would reference not only the snatches of text but those poor young men who got blown to smithereens and also the fragmented lives caused by warfare.” A century on, those fragments still impact on the lives of most of us, and this has both contributed to the content of the piece and deepened the involvement of many participants, and may well add poignancy to the experience of the audience in November.

Most of the participants have a direct connection to the conflict. The section on Conscientious Objectors was inspired by materials provided by Chris Lawson of Minehead Quakers (Chris and his wife Christina will both be involved in the performance) whose father was a Conscientious Objector in the First World War. Among other materials, Chris provided Emily with the journal of a member of the Friends Ambulance Unit, with which two uncles of Philippa Gerry, who is singing in the piece, also served. Philippa’s father was shot and gassed on the Somme, an aunt supervised hospital trains, a cousin nursed the wounded in northern France and died of pneumonia and two more uncles’ lives were irretrievably changed by shell shock. Thelma Vernon’s grandfather, like so many others, was killed in the first year of the war, while Helen Jowett was moved by her own grandfather’s experience of the trenches to write a poem, ‘Devon Farmer’, which now forms part of the libretto of the piece (the only text not actually dating from the war). And the effect is felt through the generations: the baritone soloist for November’s performance, Jamie Rock (a favourite visiting soloist for Minehead audiences), wrote, “My Great Great Grandfather fought and died in WW1, so it will mean a lot to me and my family to represent his fallen friends and foes. I hope my Granny will be able to make it over for the performance.” And one survivor of the conflict will be present at the performance: Tim Hedgecock will be playing in the orchestra on a violin his grandfather played in an army band in India during the war.

Links with the German experience of the war are also important for many of the participants. Emily has German family links herself, and has also drawn on the accounts of German friends and relatives. Emily’s friend Anna Fleisch related how her grandfather only spoke about one aspect of his experience of the war: although billeted on enemy ground, his unit were given cake by the women in the village on their safe return from the trenches, and Emily has used this for the section entitled ‘Kuchen’ (‘Cake!’) in the piece. For other participants, the German link is more recent: “I’m half German,” said Bill Griffiths. “My mum would have been really proud that I’m doing this.”

Orchestral rehearsals started back in 2017, and a choir of more than 50 singers started rehearsals in April of this year, with members coming from as far afield as London, Yorkshire and Scotland, as well as from a wide range of local choral groups. Participants’ responses to the music have been overwhelming. Helen Jowett wrote, “The music is wonderful and so emotional – I can’t sing ‘Kuchen’ [depicting a mother who has lost her son] without a wobbly voice!” while cellist Jenny Quick wrote, “It is a fantastic achievement and already wielding the power to touch and move us all.” Singer John Osborn, writing in response to a full-day workshop with conductor Nigel Perrin, wrote, “I have Emily’s music in my head all the time. I was three feet off the ground when I got home from Saturday’s workshop – it was one of the best days I’ve ever had.”

For some singers, this is the culmination of a lifetime’s ambition. Tim Pettigrew, who is singing a solo from the choir as a conscientious objector, wrote, “It realises a childhood dream when my Mum started taking me to the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester Cathedral (in the 1950s and ’60s) and I remember being emotionally electrified for days afterwards by the baritone solo of the Priest at the conclusion of Part 1 of The Dream of Gerontius.  I wondered what it must be like to sing something like that and even daydreamed that I might do something similar one day. Well now, some 60 years later, you have realised my dream and have given me a musical experience that I will cherish and which will be with me for the rest of my life.”

The project is also bringing together singers with a wide range of musical experience and expertise: some have never been involved in anything on this scale before and some don’t read music but have learnt the whole piece from singing along with the music on the project website, while others are seasoned performers bringing their skills to the piece to the benefit of all concerned. The orchestra, too, contains players with a wide range of skills and experience, including one adult learner who has never played in an orchestra before. Participants’ own suggestions have also led to additional support: they can now sing along to their own lines on the website, watch videos of rehearsal sections, practise their German pronunciation with online tutorials and attend extra sections for note-learning. “The rehearsals have a real buzz,” said Emily. “You can feel the commitment.”

An Arts Council grant has enabled the amateur performers to work both with conductor Nigel Perrin and with five professional orchestral players, and local individual and business patrons are also supporting the project with funding and services. There are still opportunities to give support: please email emilyfeldberg@btinternet.com or phone 01643 821756 for details.

Entry to the open rehearsal on 10 November is free, but donations towards the cost of the project would be welcomed. Souvenir programmes will be on sale at the rehearsal, containing the full text of Fragments and the composer’s notes on the piece: anyone attending the rehearsal or performance is advised to read these before it starts if they can. As it is a working rehearsal (so visitors are asked to remain silent), there may be some stops and starts, but a full run-through of the hour-long piece is planned for shortly after 2pm.

To find out more about the project and get a flavour of the music, visit www.emily-feldberg-music.uk/ or simply search online for Emily Feldberg music.

PHOTO: Emily, the composer, working with the orchestra.

 

 

 

 

ANNUAL ARTISAN MARKET IN BARNSTAPLE THIS NOVEMBER

Over 90 talented artists and makers from across the South West will be gathering for one day in Barnstaple PannierMarket to showcase their wares as Devon Pop Ups present an Artisan Market that is sure to successfully resolve the most challenging of shopping and gift dilemmas.

The Artisan Market on Sunday 4 November will feature an eclectic mix of exhibitors across a whole range of disciplines: from home-made sweets to doggie treats, from headdresses to statement jewellery, macramé, ceramics, wood, leather, fine art, prints, illustrations, embroidery, photography and food. The wonderful thing that they have in common, and the condition for entry to the market, is that their creations are all handmade by the artisans themselves.

The stunning Victorian Pannier Market in Barnstaple is the historic setting for this innovative event which will also include drop-in workshops hosted by Scrapstore using upcycled materials, a totally FREE creative gift-wrapping service for all purchases made on the day, a variety of delicious food stalls and live music throughout the day.

The eclectic mix of artists on show at the Artisan Market will include Becky Lanyon (see photo top), the talented creator of the Artisan Market logo. Becky’s joyful wire wall hangings and freestanding wire sculptures, as well as her illustrated cards, are inspired by birds and animals, the shapes and patterns in nature as well as acrobats and dancers.

A creative and diverse mix of textile artists including Emma Manson of Pineapple Fibre Art with her range of bespoke vintage inspired crochet wall art using hand-dyed yarns, will be mixing with talented jewellers and ceramicists. These include Claire Lowe Jewellery, who is known for a colourful range of mixed-media jewellery made with silver and resin. and Jess Harrington, who creates botanical tiles that capture a unique and beautiful plant moment in plaster and preserve it forever.

Illuminating the market will be Dorset artist Alastair Kinghorn of CU Designs, the makers of a range of unique hand-made sculptural lighting using recycled copper, glass and locally sourced wind fallen timber. Adding a musical note, the Market is pleased to welcome Terry Riley who makes pottery ocarinas and vessel flutes tuned to concert pitch.

For an enduring and lasting memento of the day, Stephen Raff and Nicky Thompson of Contemporary Collodion will be making unique glass wet plate portraits with tradition wooden bellowed cameras and a portable darkroom. Practising the photographic process invented in 1851 they will be applying light-sensitive chemicals onto plates of glass and developing portraits whilst still wet.

There will be a £1.50 entrance fee (free entry for children under 16) for the Artisan Market at Barnstaple Pannier Market on Sunday 4 November 2018. The event starts at 10am and finishes at 4pm.

 

KITTY MACFARLANE: ‘NAMER OF CLOUDS’ ALBUM LAUNCH TOUR COMES TO SOMERSET

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, is delighted to be welcoming Somerset singer-songwriter Kitty Macfarlane to perform at the Manor on Sunday 4 November at 7.30pm, as part of a nationwide tour to support the release of her stand-out debut album, ‘Namer of Clouds’. ​

Released only last month, on Navigator Records, the album has already garnered huge acclaim from both the mainstream and folk press. The Guardian wrote, “Her remarkably accomplished debut album beguiles with its poetry and tenderness, and her eye for detail, vivid imagination and bright vocals make it a captivating listen. She is a talent to watch.” Speaking on BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, Mark Radcliffe declared tracks from the album as “Stunningly beautiful – what a production, what a sound”.

Over a few short years Kitty Macfarlane has rapidly risen to become a ‘must-see’ name on the UK folk scene.  While her support appearances on tours with Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, and Blair Dunlop have fuelled her growing fan-base, it was her acclaimed 2016 EP ‘Tide and Time’ that got everyone talking; still in her early 20s, her “impressively mature” (fRoots Magazine) debut album is cementing her reputation as a major talent. Kitty is coming into her own with some remarkable songwriting, a marked empathy with the environment, and a strong sense of place; references to Somerset landscapes, wildlife and folklore pepper Kitty’s music, connecting to her love of the area where she grew up.

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 are priced £10, with a concessionary price of £4 for children and full time students of any age. Buy securely online at www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

UNVEILING OF THE SHROUDS OF THE SOMME AT QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK

After his five-year mission to honour the dead of the First World War, artist Rob Heard will finally unveil his remarkable Shrouds of the Somme installation to the world on the morning of 7 November 2018.

Rob will be available for interview as the last of the 72,396 small shrouded figures are laid out by volunteers and members of 1 Royal Anglian Regiment in the shadow of the London Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The following day members of the public are invited to visit the free attraction which will form one of the major focal points as the nation marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Each of the 12-inch shrouded figures represent the men who died in the bloodiest battle in British history but whose bodies were never recovered from the Somme battlefield.

The installation is so vast that when the shrouds are laid out they will cover 4,400 square metres – almost the size of a football pitch.

Find out more: www.shroudsofthesomme.com/

THE LOST WORDS A CELEBRATION!

It has been an astonishing year for Jackie Morris since the publication of The Lost Words and Number Seven Dulverton is delighted that she is joining them later this month to celebrate the book’s first birthday.

The illustrations and ‘spells’ that feature throughout this beautiful publication were created very much in partnership when illustrator Jackie Morris and renowned nature writer Robert Macfarlane learned that certain nature words were to be excluded from the Junior Oxford English Dictionary as a result of falling out of everyday use. The response to this stunningly produced, heartfelt publication has been quite astounding, and both Robert and Jackie are overwhelmed by the public’s embrace and desire to keep the lost words of nature very much alive in our children’s vocabulary and landscape.

This enthusiasm has inspired individuals and communities throughout the country to raise funding via crowdsourcing so that copies of The Lost Words can be found in every school library in their region. Somerset has recently been successful, while Devon has recently announced its campaign and joined ‘The Lost Words‘ Movement.’

‘The book was made with love and hope, and I think it has been received in the same way: with hope, with love.’

Jackie Morris


Number Seven has two events planned, the first is to be The Lost Words supper at Loyton Lodge, where Jackie will be joined by composer and folk musician Kerry Andrew who has set two of Robert Macfarlane’s poems, ‘Bluebell’ and ‘Wren’, to music.

The following day, on Thursday 25 October, Jackie will be resident by the fireside in ‘the kitchen’ at Number Seven where she will be painting and signing copies of her books for you, of which there are many, she is quite the prolific creative and has previously illustrated for Carol Ann Duffy and Ted Hughes.

Number Seven highly recommends ordering or reserving copies beforehand to avoid disappointment although of course there will be stock available on the day. Alongside her books, cards, calendars, prints and originals will be available for sale. It promises to be a wonderful, inspiring day and all ages are welcome.

PHOTO Jackie by Christopher Jelley