Life in Taunton, its people and places, are captured in time for an exhibition of watercolours opening at The Museum of Somerset on Saturday 19 March.
Harry Frier (1849–1921) is one of Somerset‘s best known artists. His paintings document life in and around Taunton during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Frier moved to Somerset in 1883 and began painting watercolours of local scenes. He was a prolific worker and at least 600 of his paintings survive.
‘Captured in Time: The Art of Harry Frier’ has been curated from collections cared for by the South West Heritage Trust and features more than 30 of the artist’s works. It includes scenes of Taunton, among them views of Tone Bridge, Fore Street, Church Square and Bath Place. Frier’s most ambitious painting, ‘The Assize Fair’ is also included together with a depiction of the fire that destroyed Pollard’s timber yard in 1889. There are also scenes of the surrounding countryside in villages including Creech St Michael and Bishops Lydeard. The exhibition is in the museum at Taunton Castle, which was also the subject of several of Frier’s paintings.
South West Heritage Trust Curator Bethan Murray said: “Harry Frier was a prolific watercolour artist who worked in Somerset for more than 30 years. His watercolours of Taunton and the countryside around it have preserved for us a world that is lost.”
Frier moved to Somerset in 1883 with his Somerset-born wife Kate Dyer. He relied on commissions to earn a living but with the rise of popular photography in the early 1900s sales of his work began to decline. After Kate died in 1913 his health deteriorated and in 1917 he entered Taunton Workhouse. He died there in 1921, aged 71, and is buried in the churchyard at Creech St Michael.
‘Captured in Time: The Art of Harry Frier’ includes work belonging to Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. It runs from Saturday 19 March until 22 October. Entry is free.
To further explore the town’s history, including Harry Frier’s depictions of it, Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, is giving a talk entitled ‘The Changing Face of Taunton 1750-2015.’ The talk is at the museum onWednesday 4 May at 7.30 pm. Tickets are £9.50 available from the museum on 01823 255088 or online via museumofsomerset.org.uk.
The museum is part of the South West Heritage Trust, an independent charity committed to protecting and celebrating Somerset and Devon’s rich heritage. ‘Captured in Time: The Art of Harry Frier’ is one of two temporary exhibitions at the museum this spring, with illustrations by Time Team artist Victor Ambrus on show from 23 April to 2 July.