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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Trip to Urchfont Manor

Last Friday, we were fortunate enough to visit the contemporary sculpture exhibition organised by Friends of the Garden at Urchfont Manor. I was approached by exhibition curator, Lesley Andrews about a year ago, she suggested we arrange a fundraising trip to visit the 2018 exhibition. The Friends of the Garden organisation started in 2007 as a voluntary organisation with two objectives: to foster public appreciation of contemporary sculpture and to fund bursaries for artists has displayed sculpture at Urchfont five times before, this time the difference was that it doesn't any longer belong to Wiltshire County Council, but is now in private ownership. The 5 acre garden consists of fabulous parkland with many mature trees reaching their potential by virtue of being spaced apart from other trees; the part around the vegetable garden has been reconfigured by award winning garden designer DelBuono Gazerwitz.
The garden certainly provides a wonderful backdrop for the works by 21 artists, and although we were at Urchfont for 5 hours, I spent a lot of time looking at some pieces. Lots of information can be found on all the artists taking part by clicking here. I took a few photos, do have a look, they are displayed in the order they were taken:
 The first part of the garden one enters is the formal vegetable garden where there were works by Hayley Jones on display, from the point of view of a gardener, these are perfect because they are ready mounted on old gates, tools and other things!
 Above a blackbird on a watering can, and below a hen sitting in a grass filled trough.
 Then there were some robins dotted around, like this one:
From there I was attracted to some eye catching 'daisies and tulips' by Lynn Baker, these below are made using kiln formed glass in a delicate procedure involving cutting and breaking glass into individual pieces and then reforming it. They are then put into a kiln to fuse and slump each piece.
 Lynn also specialises in working with the graal technique to produce these pieces of blown glass:

Also in the walled garden, we saw Jacquie Primrose's large pieces made especially for this exhibition, here's one below:
 And also the smaller pieces made to complement the white and purple theme in this part of the gravel garden
 Looking as though they are permanent fixtures in the garden, 3 large glazed pots in juxtaposition with the formal layout of the newly planted gravel garden by Taz Pollard
 Lesley Andrews had kindly organised  two of the artists taking part in the exhibition to come and talk to us. The first before lunch was Tom Hiscocks. Below you can see his sculpture 'Many Become One'. Tom is a Wiltshire based figurative artist working mainly in laser cut steel; he talked movingly about inspirations in his life and what his work means to him.
 Here's the group waiting for Tom to start talking,  giving me a good photo opportunity
 After Tom's talk, I wandered around the parkland and was drawn to Giles Penny RWA's bronze entitled 'Man Who Caught the Moon'
 Quite close by, Dominic Clare's 'Knobbly Trunk' demanded more than a second glance
 I rather fancied one of these 'Houses on Stilts' by Alison Berman for the garden
They were situated beneath a catalpa tree, I was keen to get a photograph looking up
 Sara Ingleby-McKenzie showed a series of exotic figures in the beech hedge spiral, this one is called 'Calypso' and would look fantastic in my garden.
 Here are some of Jacquie Primrose's bees and butterflies in the orchard
 I was looking for something to take home from this exhibition, and already having 3 of Jacquie Primrose's mosaics, chose one of these 'Cornflowers' by Ruth Molloy. It looks fabulous in the garden.
 I came across Rosie Musgrave's work across the orchard. She was showing 3 very tactile pieces. Calming, soothing and wonderful to look at. This one is called 'WayMark lll'
 Also in the orchard I came across 'Somerset cranes' also by Hayley Jones
 The gardens and parkland was fabulous, and just look at the stripes on the lawn!!
 Last, but by no means least, Jacquie Primrose talked to us just before we went home about her practice.
It was a perfect day out, do go and have a look at the exhibition before it ends on 8 July. I couldn't include everyone in this blog, but I did appreciate John O'Connor's work and very much liked this quote: 'Our emotional state of being  is reflected in the physical. John's work demonstrates this beautifully'
I've taken this from the website so you know when to visit:

2018 Celebrating Art in the Garden at Urchfont Manor

Our 2018 exhibition is now open at Urchfont Manor, SN10 4RF.
The exhibition will be open until 8 July, 11am – 6pm, Wednesday to Sunday only. Please note that we will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is £5 per adult; accompanied young people under 16 will have free entry.
Only assistance dogs are allowed. Visitors using wheelchairs should note that although the site is flat, access to most parts of the garden is over mown grass paths and these may be difficult for users of push only wheelchairs.
Exhibition entrance is on the western edge of the Urchfont village green. There is NO parking around the green. Visitors should follow "Parking" signs in the village that will take you to a parking area a short walk from the exhibition entrance. Parking for people with a disability and booked coach parties will be available on site, please contact us.
There will be a café in the stable yard serving delicious light lunches, morning coffee and afternoon teas.
A popup shop will be offering work for immediate sale by participating artists.
If you would like to make a booking for an art or garden group or for further information please contact us.
This exhibition forms part of Pound Arts Rural Arts Touring Programme, see

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

50 Finds from Wiltshire

Richard Henry who was Finds Liaison Officer for Wiltshire gave us a very interesting talk in May. He talked about his book which has the same title as his talk, it's great book, available in the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery shop:
 I didn't take many photos, one of the screen when Richard was talking about the Salisbury Hoard. A new word entered my vocabulary that night, detectorists, people who use metal detectors to find metal artefacts.
 I also took a photo of the drinks table before we opened
Richard was kind enough to donate 33% of the cost of his book to the Friends which was very generous, and one of our Friends in the audience subsequently asked at the museum how much the wine strainer would cost to renovate, and on being told £1000, agreed to pay for it to be restored.
So altogether a very positive evening.