Category Archives: Creative Exmoor

Make the Most of Open Studios This Weekend!

We are now well into Somerset Arts Weeks, which runs until 5 October and which this years follows the format of Open Studios. Davina Jelley explains:

Perusing the guide for this year’s Somerset Art Weeks, you cannot fail to realise that the majority of artists living and working in the region are inspired by the landscape.
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Sometimes we are all too familiar with where we live; we are all creatures of habit.  The beauty of Art Weeks is that it makes us explore, drive to forgotten destinations, discover hidden corners and quirky pubs.  Encouraging us to look with fresh eyes, art allows the artist to translate this land of contrast for us – whether it be through photography and film, paper sculpture, clay, painting or printmaking.  Some 32 of the 200-plus venues taking part this year are located in West Somerset, featuring work by 40 local talented and professional artists; there is something to suit all tastes and budgets.

This year Art Works takes the form of Open Studios, a rare opportunity for you to visit the creative inner hub.  Some are cluttered and chaotic, others organised and methodical depending on process and personality.  There is great joy to be derived from witnessing where the transformation of ideas into reality takes shape.  Of course some of the artists paint on location or, as artist Alison Jacobs likes to describe it, en plein air.  She can often be spotted in Watchet sketching on her iPad; this work she then transcribes onto large canvasses, painting with acrylics, combining
hi-tech with traditional methods.
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To plan your artistic explorations pick up a SAW guide in your local shop or you can send for one by calling 01458 253800.  You can also visit the website:

PICTURED: Work by Lucy Pendrick

Coleridge Way Exhibition Opens Tomorrow for Porlock Arts Festival

Don’t miss Churchgate Gallery’s exhibition, ‘The Coleridge Way’, which opens tomorrow.

This exhibition, which has been planned to celebrate the recent extension of the Coleridge Way from Porlock to Lynmouth, will be part of this weekend’s Porlock Arts Festival (25-28 September) and will then continue until 11 October.
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Painters, print makers, jewellers, ceramicists, sculptors, film makers and installation artists have been invited to take part.

Culture, fun and entertainment in equal measure will all be part of the twelfth annual Porlock Arts Festival this year.

Winners of the 2014 BBC Best Folk Duo, Philip Henry and Hannah Martin kick things off with an eclectic set of their own and traditional folk material.  Storytelling forms an important part of the Festival and there will be opportunities to interact and engage with writers from different backgrounds and perspectives.  Christopher Jelley is creating a story trail with help from St Dubricius pupils.

Join caller Ray Goodswen for a Ceilidh, which in ancient Gaelic speak is another name for a social gathering.  Ceilidhs don’t necessarily have to have dancing but Porlock’s does!  So, if you enjoy a knees-up head down to Porlock Village Hall on Friday 26 September at 7.30pm.

Poetry will take centre stage with Midnight Skies, Exmoor in Verse being read by the poets that contributed to the anthology published in 2013.  Local photographer Maureen Harvey will provide a stunning backdrop of remarkable photographs and slides that promises to make the event a truly memorable one.
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Author Michael Ridpath will talk about his life as a crime writer and rock biographer and Philip Norman will be talking about his amazing body of work which includes the definitive Beatles biography Shout.  Both Michael and Philip will be taking questions at the end of their talks.

Sunday 28 September will see Chris Chapman presenting his film ‘How Many People See the Stars as I Do?’, which showcases the extraordinary life of Exmoor artist and writer Hope Bourne.

Exhibitions and competitions will also play a part in the 2014 Festival event schedule, which promises to be the best yet!

ARTWORK pictured: by Michael Heslop, courtesy Churchgate Gallery, Porlock.

Two Moors Festival Concert Hall

Guest Post from the Two Moors Festival’s Penny Adie

The need for a proper concert hall in the South West has been apparent for several years now. As the level and strength of the arts in the region grows, so this has become increasingly evident. There is no such venue between Bristol and Land’s End.  Plans for such a project have been quietly bubbling away in the background for around five years – and, in the last few weeks, have made it into the media.
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Some will argue that the population is small and therefore a grand concert hall seating 1,800 people is not only unnecessary but, also, never going to justify the millions of pounds required to build it. It has already been argued that the catchment area is such that there would never be enough people to fill the space let alone make it viable.

Such a hall would indeed need to be multi-purpose, as is the case for other halls in the country: these do not survive without offering conference, wedding or educational facilities plus others besides. However, the musical aspect would be the focus, with near-perfect acoustics paramount to its success. Only with this would the world’s best orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra be attracted to perform within it. With this level of artistry on offer, there is a strong argument that people would be attracted to the area in droves, thereby increasing tourism figures even more than they are rising currently.

The location of the proposed hall is essential to its success. Junction 27 is the best possible site: it is central to the whole area, accessible from North Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Bristol, just 20 minutes away from Exeter Airport and a stone’s throw away from the mainline railway at Tiverton Parkway station. Much of the infrastructure is already present.

In addition to the music and external facilities, the building would offer a range of art forms in which many local people could become involved, from pottery classes and dance to art. Rehearsal rooms would be available as would two subsidiary halls for recording and rehearsals. There would be a shopping area offering the best possible local foods and other local goods, plus a variety of restaurant outlets too.
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There will be considerable need for parking and hotel accommodation. These requirements will bring a lot of business to the area and offer many job opportunities for people in the area.

Watch this space…

Budding Poet Wins Ted Hughes Prize

elliot poet from wellington schoolWellington Prep School pupil Elliot Owen has won first prize the Ted Hughes Young Poets Award.

The Year 2 pupil wrote the poem ‘My Animal A-Z’ and submitted it to the competition set up in memory of the late poet laureate. The competition was judged by acclaimed poet Katrina Naomi. Elliot is the first prizewinner in the 6-10 age category, and, in addition to the prestigious award, has also won a prize of £ new balance

There will be a prizewinning event at the Ted Hughes Festival in October in Hughes’ birthplace, Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire, at which Elliot will be able to read out his winning poem.

“We are so proud of Elliot’s achievement. To win first prize against such a huge number of submissions is a tremendous accolade”, says Adam Gibson, Headmaster of Wellington Prep School. Our Year 5 pupils are currently studying the works of Ted Hughes, so it is especially pertinent for us at present.”

Katrina Naomi is a poet, tutor and poetry mentor. Her poetry has appeared in the TLS, The Poetry Review and The Spectator, and on Radio 4. She is working towards a Creative Writing PhD at Goldsmiths.

PHOTO:   Elliot Owen, Year 2. Winner of the Ted Hughes Poetry Competition.

Propaganda and Protest Exhibition at Contains Art

The exhibition ‘Poster Power: Propaganda and Protest’ runs from 3 to 13 September at Watchet’s Contains Art Gallery and will be open Wednesdays-Sundays 11am-4pm.

The exhibition will display a striking exhibition of original political propaganda posters exploring the influence and graphic style of state propaganda machines from the former Soviet Union, Communist China and around the world.

By contrast, protest posters were designed, most often, to disrupt or counter government lines.  These highly collectible and graphically striking social records reflect the tumultuous social and political context of the twentieth century, in a mass-appeal but fragile form. nike air max 2015

Exmoor Flag Finalists Announced: You Can Vote Now

The Exmoor Flag Project team are delighted to announce the competition finalists and their Exmoor Flag designs that have been shortlisted for the public vote. The finalists are:

Jenny Stevens
Jenny Stevens
Jamie Loudon
Jamie Loudon
Kathryn Roseveare
Kathryn Roseveare
Kevin Sandiford
Kevin Sandiford
Martin Shoots
Martin Shoots

The finalists’ designs have been adapted to conform to The Flag Institute’s criteria but the essence of the original concept has been retained.

The eight judges had an extremely difficult task of shortlisting over 260 design entries down to just 4 finalists; in the end they couldn’t decide and selected 5 flags to go through to the public vote which opens today, Wednesday 20 August. Vote online by registering at or by post with the voting forms published in the local press including West Somerset Free Press and North Devon Gazette.

Philip Tibbetts of the Flag Institute commented: “The range and quality of entries was very impressive and clearly reflects the beauty of Exmoor itself and the passion of its people. This beauty and passion manifested in many different ways, from the 200+ entries to the incredible flag-flying display put on by the businesses of Dulverton in honour of the judging. It is these characteristics of Exmoor that have ensured a fantastic set of finalists and will further guarantee a beautiful winning flag for the area.”

The winning Exmoor Flag will be registered by The Flag Institute, the organisation which registers United Kingdom flags, and announced in an unveiling ceremony on 29 October where the Exmoor Flag Project Team has a wonderful day planned to celebrate Exmoor’s new flag.

The owner of the winning Exmoor Flag will not only have the honour of their design being registered as an official United Kingdom flag, but will receive the very first copy of the flag, professionally hand made on Exmoor.   In addition the winner will be presented with a fantastic  hamper overflowing with Exmoor produce and products, tickets for visitor attractions and vouchers for meals at popular venues. All these gifts have been generously donated by local businesses to support and celebrate this new era for Exmoor.

The Exmoor Flag Competition is financially supported by the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund and the Exmoor Flag Project team. cheap nike air max

Minehead Parks Walk Trails Launch

On Wednesday 20 August Minehead Development Trust will be launching three new guided walks to embellish the experience of Minehead’s unique Arboretum, locally known as ‘Parks Walk’ .

Storyteller Chris Jelley has created a series of web-based guides that can be downloaded to a smart phone or tablet and used to look at the tree collection in a whole new way.

Chris said: “My approach to creating these trails is likened to a skimming stone, stopping at several segments of the park and dropping interesting facts, myths and tales through out, and all pivoting on the trees. What this is not is an in-depth factual tour and history of the Minehead Parks walks. Readers can discover which tree produces twigs that can ward off witches, which tree produces nuts that were used to make gunpowder, and how to discover the initial of your true love.”

The guided walks were commissioned by Stephen Hooper, Minehead Vision Manager, as part of the Vision Plan to enhance and celebrate Minehead’s Horticultural Heritage. Stephen said: “These new interpretations really bring the arboretum to life in a way that appeals to the child in all of us. The walks have been designed to complement the existing guide originally commissioned by the Exmoor Natural History Society, whose members have been collaborating in the development of the project.”

To celebrate the launch Chris Jelley will be leading the three walks on 20 August to groups of up to 25 people at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. To book a place please ring the Minehead Visitor Centre on 01643 702624. The guide will be downloadable from nike air max 2014

Tiverton Community Arts Theatre (TCAT) premier this Saturday

In association with Stage Wright Productions, Tiverton Community Arts Theatre (TCAT), are proud to announce that MOTHERLAND will be premiering on 22 February. This brand-new production by Stage Wright Productions, charts the rather intriguing life of Dr Marie Stopes.

Written by Suze Gardner, Motherland opens as we join Marie Stopes as her once pioneering birth control practice and methods have fallen out of fashion. To make matters worse, her unconventional methods of promoting birth control and extremely suspect qualifications have alienated the Doctor from the Family Planning Association.

This wartime black comedy takes you deep into the world of Stopes’ medical practices, thoughts and somewhat dubious behaviour, while being supported by her long suffering assistant Nurse Cooper, downtrodden husband Humphrey and son Harry, although they always understand Stopes’ love of controversy.

Chairman of Tiverton Community Arts Theatre Julian Morgan is thrilled to be able to give Stage Wright Productions the opportunity to present their brand new production. He says: “As a community arts space embracing new talent and new productions is very important to us. Our core aim is to bring a varied calendar of productions to Mid Devon and with Motherland we have been able to continue to work towards this goal. It’s an eye opening show and one we would strongly advise people to see.”

You can expect twists and turns, a secret lover and the story of how Stopes involvement in the Eugenics movement reveal sinister implications that threaten her reputation!

Will a newly contrite Doctor Stopes be forced to reveal that her doctorate is not all that it seems? and is there a pleasant yet less boastful side of the Doctor’s personality or does the good old Doctor Stopes lurk just below the surface. There is only way to find out …

Tickets for MOTHERLAND can be purchased from and the official TCAT Box Office, located at JT’s Partyhouse on Bampton Street, Tiverton. Prices start at £6.00 for concessions and £8.00 for standard seats. Doors open at 6.30pm, with the show starting at 7.30pm.

Top singers to headline at Stogumber Festival this year

Organisers of the Stogumber Festival have announced that internationally-acclaimed baritone, Roderick Williams, and one of Britain’s best known jazz singers, Clare Teal, are to be are among the leading performers at this year’s Stogumber Festival.

Clare Teal is not only presenter of the weekly big band and swing show ‘Hear Clare on BBC Radio Two’ but also one of the country’s most successful jazz singers. She was named Jazz Singer of the Year in both 2005 and 2007 and BBC Jazz Singer of the Year in 2006 and has performed with artists such as Jamie Cullum, Katie Melua and Liza Minnelli as well as with the BBC Concert Orchestra on Friday Night Is Music Night.

A regular with all the major British opera companies, as well as appearing at festivals such as the BBC Proms, Edinburgh and Aldeburgh, Roderick Williams has worked abroad with, among others, the Netherlands Opera, Pax Christi Chorale in Toronto, the Melbourne State Theatre and the Florida Grand Opera. Although his exact programme for Stogumber Festival is still to be confirmed it is likely to include English song for which he is particularly celebrated.

“We are thrilled that we have been able to attract performers of such calibre to sing in Stogumber. Furthermore, Lada Valešová, the Czech pianist and professor at the Guildhall School of Music who played for us last year, has become a strong supporter of the Festival. As well as agreeing to return to accompany Roderick, she has helped us to secure a third headline concert by the Jubilee String Quartet, an award-winning, all-girl ensemble formed at the Royal Academy of Music eight years ago”, explained committee chairman Lance Moir.

“But the overall aim of the Festival is to offer a range of music and arts too so there will be folk, flamenco, gypsy, acoustic guitar and choral as well as free sessions around the village with specially invited buskers and street performers. A storyteller and an art exhibition are also among the possibilities”.

The Stogumber Festival takes place from 4-7 September. Tickets for all paid events will go on sale 1 May via the Festival website (, enquiry line (0845 539 0168) or in person at the village’s Central Stores.

Somerset Open Studios 2014 registration is now open

Somerset Open Studios 2014 is about drawing Art Weeks back to its roots; focusing on individual artists in their working environment. It focuses on artists as individuals; how they make their work; their inspiration and creative processes. It aims to support artists who want to work professionally and promote their creative business.

The last Open Studios Event in 2012 had more than 300 artists taking part in 221 venues . We recorded more than 50,000 visitors and nearly £500,000 sales were made across the venues.

Kevin McCloud, SAW Patron, says: “Somerset Art Weeks is a much-loved and thriving annual event and I’m proud to support it. It plays an invaluable role in identifying and celebrating a huge variety of creative activities and projects in this county, finding emerging artists and raising awareness of them. I urge you to go out and enjoy this glorious week of cultural exploration.”

Find out more and register at: