Black Swan Arts celebrates 30 Years with many exciting events

Nigel Evans Black Swan painted on scrap steel sheet for Secret SwansBlack Swan Arts, a dynamic arts centre at the heart of the renowned creative market town of Frome, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a year of fantastic shows, exhibitions and one-off fundraising events. In 2016, the centre wants everyone to remember the history of the wonderful Grade II listed building, enjoy the vibrant programme of contemporary and innovative art and crafts that have taken place, and get involved in the next 30 years of this exciting arts venue.

The centre manager, Emma Warren, says: “Our plans to celebrate Black Swan’s 30th anniversary will make 2016 a year to remember, and we are heartened to have so many volunteers offering to help with the many events. We have a full calendar for the year and are engaging new and past supporters. We are at the centre of an incredibly creative community, especially with a constant stream of new artists arriving in the Frome area, and we want to capitalise on all this artistic energy.”

The celebration events planned for 2016 include:

  • 1000 Postcards

18–28 June; preview evening 17 June, 6–8pm

A selling exhibition in the Main Gallery of 1000 postcards of original artwork by artists and celebrities, including Oscar-winning animator Daniel Greaves, Simon Tofield (of Simon’s Cat fame), Bryan Adams, Pearl and Daisy Lowe, Kevin McCloud and Luke Piper. The work will be exhibited anonymously (although signatures will appear on the back) with a list of the contributors on display. Visitors can buy the postcards for £30. The aim of the event is to promote original art to a new and diverse audience, offering affordable art for everyone. The funds raised will go towards the refurbishment of the historic Round Tower.

  • Secret Swans art trail

Part of the Frome Festival: 1–10 July

A fun trail of 30 swan-themed artworks in various media – including steel sculpture, drawings, textiles, ceramics, glass, taxidermy and other surprising forms – will be on display at venues around Frome, such as shops, cafes, public buildings and outdoor locations. Badges will be available for everyone who identifies all 30 artworks and there will be the opportunity to enter a prize draw. Visitors can also make secret bids for the work, which will be auctioned (with a reserve price) at the end of the festival. Some artists have offered to donate their work, while others will be splitting the proceeds with Black Swan Arts. Artists involved include Tessa Farmer, Ian Marlow, Bronwyn Bradshaw, Chris Lee, Fiona Campbell, Nick Weaver, Nigel Evans, Caroline Walsh-Waring and Angela Morley.

  • 30 Plinths

26th November – 24th December

An exhibition of work by artists who have been involved with the Black Swan Arts studios and galleries.

  • Art Car Boot Sale

10th July, 10am – 4pm

Artists, craftspeople and designer-makers will be selling their work directly to the public at the 11th Black Swan Arts Summer Art Car Boot Sale in the Old Cattle Market car park. It’s a fantastic chance to meet the makers direct, buy some affordable art and support a good cause – the event will raise valuable funds for Black Swan Arts in its 30th anniversary year.

  • A display of old photos of Black Swan Arts 
  • A courtyard barbecue  
  • The re-launch of the Black Swan regular monthly art market

DavidAParfittRI_Along the riverbank

Black Swan’s programme of exhibitions serves both the community and the artists of the South West. A recent run of successful shows has brought in a whole new audience to the venue. This has included ‘Sketch’ (a touring exhibition of 54 selected artists’ sketchbooks), Mel Day’s entrancing solo show of childhood memories, the annual Open Exhibition (selected and judged last year by a panel including Hauser & Wirth Somerset’s director Alice Workman), the inspiring ‘step in stone’ exhibition (linked to the Art in Quarries project), the Black Swan Young Open (a great opportunity for young artists) and the Winter Show (breathtaking, atmospheric and icily beautiful, it featured exceptionally fine work by award-winning artists and designers).

Black Swan Art’s high calibre exhibitions might give the impression of a well-funded organisation. In fact, since dramatic cuts in funding in 2011, it has been run on a shoestring by a dedicated team of volunteers alongside part-time manager, Emma Warren, and led by the dynamic curator and chair of trustees, Amanda Sheridan.

Chair Amanda Sheridan says: ‘Over the past 30 years, the Black Swan Arts centre has been supported by hundreds of people – talented artists and makers, trustees who have worked through some pretty shaky times, dedicated staff and, most importantly, the volunteers, without whom Black Swan Arts would quite simply sink. After all these years of dedication, we deserve to see the centre go on for another 30 years.’ Black Swan Arts is always grateful for new volunteers and friends to join as patrons of the arts to help raise its profile as a leading regional gallery, so do get in touch if you would like to get involved.

If you’re an artist who wishes to take part, get in touch, and whether you’re an artist or not, this hub of creativity and vitality in the centre of Frome should be visited and celebrated by you in 2016!

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