Hestercombe Gallery secures funding for the arts

Hestercombe has been awarded a grant of £69,000 from Arts Council England to continue its gallery and arts programme in 2017.

This year, thanks to this grant and funding from Taunton Deane Borough Council, the award-winning heritage attraction, near Taunton in Somerset, will see over 10 artists engaging with the gardens, landscape, archives, buildings and visitors.

Jem Southam '21 March 2016’. From the work 'a bend in the river’
Jem Southam ’21 March 2016’. From the work ‘a bend in the river’

As well as a series of new exhibitions featuring high profile contemporary artists, the funding will enable Hestercombe to engage more people in events and participatory activities, with the gardens hosting two new artist commissions as Hestercombe moves towards becoming a national centre for art and landscape.

The next exhibition taking place at Hestercombe Gallery, entitled Regions of Light opens to the public on Saturday 18 March and runs until Sunday 2 July.

It will showcase works from the artist and poet the Rev. John Eagles (1783 – 1855) together with contemporary artists Jem Southam, Rebecca Chesney and Paul Desborough. The exhibition title, taken from a line in a John Eagles poem, alludes to the visual diversity within the show, which features photography, paintings, sculpture, objects, words and film.

The Rev. John Eagles painted at Hestercombe in the early 1800s and was an artist, poet and writer. Original works will be exhibited alongside those by a contemporary photographer, abstract painter and multi-media artist who all make artwork in response to landscape or place.

Jem Southam is one of the UK’s leading photographers. He is renowned for his series of colour landscape photographs, beginning in the 1970s and continuing until the present. Southam’s subjects are predominately situated in the South West of England where he lives and works and he observes the balance between nature and man’s intervention and traces cycles of decay and renewal.

Rebecca Chesney is interested in how we perceive land: how we romanticise, translate and define urban and rural spaces. She looks at how politics, ownership, management and commercial value all influence our surroundings and she has made extensive investigations into the impact of human activities on nature and the environment.

Paul Desborough’s paintings challenge our most basic assumptions about the nature of painting. Pushing the material properties of acrylic, his paintings eschew the conventional bond between medium and support, and in turn celebrate the physical materiality of the paint. Often site-specific, his work blurs the boundaries between sculpture and installation, exploring the formal limits of painting and its relationship to art historical canons.

Throughout the year another five artists will be researching and making new work for other spaces. Sarah Bennett, Megan Calver and Philippa Lawrence’s research will be shown in winter 2018.  During 2017 they will present their work through artist dialogue sessions. We will host two residencies collaborating with our gardening team with artists Jennie Savage and Neville Gabie.

Building on international connections, following a research trip to China, Hestercombe will also be hosting a Chinese artist later in 2017 alongside a programme of residential workshops and events.

For all the events taking place at the Hestercombe Gallery and the Gardens, visit our website www.hestercombe.com.