Artists respond to theme of Sanctuary

Somerset Art Weeks
24 Sept- 9 Oct 2022

Artists across Somerset will be responding to the theme of ‘Sanctuary’ for this year’s Somerset Art Weeks.

More than 300 artists will be hosting exhibitions and events in over 100 venues, including loft spaces, tithe barns, stables, museums, churches, farms, libraries and a prison.

Members of Somerset Art Works and commissioned artists will be showcasing their work, giving local people and visitors to the county the opportunity to discover high quality shows and exhibitions in unique and inspiring locations across the county. 

Artists have interpreted the theme of Sanctuary in many different ways, such as with paintings of the natural world, mindful mark making and a poetic sanctuary. Poet Katrina Naomi and eco-writer Sara Hudston responded to the natural heritage of Alfoxton Park with its links to Wordsworth and Coleridge as the birthplace of English Romanticism. 

Somerset Art Works recently declared a Climate Emergency, and reflecting this, the event has a focus on sustainability. Many of the artists have been inspired by our relationship to the natural world. Others have responded to shared experiences of the pandemic, often highlighting positive changes or allowing visitors to contemplate. 

During lockdown, Liz Gregory’s garden became her sanctuary. Her paintings are inspired by earth-covered pieces of broken china found whilst gardening.

Siân Cann finds sanctuary walking in the woodlands with her Polaroid camera, absorbing quiet moments in nature and observing the poetry of light between the leaves. The woodlands became more important to her when she began to lose her sight during lockdown, and her documentation of this natural space became her reassurance.

Chris Dunseath has created a series of small sculptures inspired by the Bronze Age Axes in the collections at The Museum of Somerset.

Bronwen Coe has created a series of work on the theme ‘Theatre of trees’ including botanical prints and wood sculptures in memory of a local Sweet Chestnut tree.

The name Muchelney means ‘great island’. In times of flood, the church there provided sanctuary. To reflect this, Jane Mowat has created an installation of embroidery that floods, from the font and down the church nave, sewn with images of native plants.
Penelope O’Gara of The Itinerant Bizarrium has created figurative textile works exploring the theme of sanctuary within the setting of the 14th century church of St Peter, Evercreech.

Six artists have taken over C-Wing at Shepton Mallet Prison to create immersive and interactive artworksusing a variety of artforms and techniques, including creative computer coding, an installation exploring light and colour, painting and mark making as a practice of mindfulness, exploring conversations on postcolonial ideas of the Black British experience in the UK, and participatory installations considering themes of wellbeing.

Jacky Oliver has created a large-scale kinetic sculpture for Somerset Rural Life Museum’s 14th-century Abbey Barn. The sculpture draws inspiration from research into the different ways horses have been central to Somerset’s rural heritage.

In celebration of the Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting initiative, The Arborealists present a new exhibition in the Music Hall at Fyne Court. The exhibition has a theme of regeneration to help promote tree planting – a vital strand of the environmental crisis recovery strategy. 

A full event programme includes talks, walks and workshops focussing on making art, wellbeing and a return to nature. Each weekend will be Family Friendly, with arts activities for families of all shapes and sizes, encouraging everyone to join in.

The Somerset Art Weeks Guide will be available from early August, so visitors can see what’s on, who is taking part and start planning their visits. There will also be more information on the SAW website and an app to highlight venues and give directions. 

Published by Gillian Taylor PR

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