Monthly Archives: April 2015

Amazing News Flash: we’ve just been awarded an Arts Council grant for our autumn Dove Arts Festival: ‘Amazing Space’. Now, when I should be telling you all about it, I’m suddenly too busy! Stay posted, though, I’ll get back to it. In the meantime, here’s something I wrote while drafting ideas for the grant proposal:

Amazing Space

I’ve been here for nearly 40 years.

‘Here’ being the Dove. Dove Centre, Dove Workshops, Dove Studios – in all its manifestations over its 45 years of being, it – I – we – have demonstrated continuous and ever maturing dedication to the arts and crafts. We have always operated outside a formal educational system yet have reached hundreds of people who, in search of a creative, supportive, maybe life-changing way forward, have beaten a path down the long drive, to be rewarded with the wide view, the studios, courses, events, community, self-development, space… Our isolation here is our opportunity.

So the Dove continues to animate this hidden spot, miraculously surviving in a changing and challenging world. This year, 5 artists will be showing work for the SAW Festival in various exhibition spaces: they are Mike Dodd, Sandie Roche, Tony Martin, Diana Milstein and myself.

In addition, the etching studio will house a ‘Mini Print’ exhibition and a ‘Book in a Drawer’ librarium with all work produced by past and present students and residents.

In addition I want this year to realise the full potential of the Dove’s Amazing Space by commissioning a series of art installations around the 1½ acres that surround the studios. This part of the project draws on the strong connections made over 45 years, from artists, makers, students and supporters, and will celebrate what the Dove has achieved.

 Materials for the installations are already here. When we bought our ‘slice’ of the Dove it had precisely 2 trees on it. Now forty years later with mature trees and hedges, willows are to be pollarded, and hazel coppiced to supply poles, bark, wands, twigs; perfect for onsite sculpture, and providing a sustainable creative interlude for a few years before becoming fuel for the studio stove.

The commissioned artists:

Michael Fairfax from West Somerset, where he makes ‘sound’ instruments. He will build a sound sculpture around the pollard willows leading up to the studios. Visitors will be encouraged to join in regular improvisations.

Fiona Hingston, from the Mendips, will make ‘Pressings’ of plant materials gathered through the seasons, to be displayed in the windows of an unoccupied studio.

Bronwen Bradshaw, with members of the Dove Artists’ Book Club, will weave a large outdoor book of memories, printing onto willow bark and plaster of Paris.

Pennie Elfick from the Levels: her mural on the green shed will be a gradually developing colour symphony reflecting the landscape.

All stages will be documented via time lapse video as will the other installations.


The commissioned artists will gather here in July for a summer camp of making, creating a jazz-like improvisation of making. The jazz will carry on into the Autumn SAW Festival, with PV in September, workshops and talks, and (essential in my view) publication of a book to celebrate the Amazing Space that is the Dove, its people, its history, and the work produced for Momentum.

Amazing Space will create a lasting legacy, and give new momentum to the next phase of the Dove’s story.

First model for the Outdoor Book: Dove Tales

First model for the Outdoor Book: Dove Tales




step in stone

An abundance of stones, this time at Westdown Quarry, means there is always somewhere to put things.

Fiona's Sculpture in Progress takes a rest Fiona’s sculpture in progress takes a rest

It got quite warm so coats were abandonned It got quite warm so coats were abandoned…

...cardigans (and a mollusc?) …a cardigan (and a mollusc?)

...drawing materials My sketching table

These creatures These creatures have been here quite a long time,

whereas this one is a lot more recent whereas this is a lot more recent

This one didn't need a stone and this one didn’t need (fell off?) a stone.

Is this really going to work? Is this really going to work?

And finally, Jack takes a break from filming And finally, Jack takes a break

Bronwen Bradshaw, 17.4.2015

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It has just been pointed out to me that when I posted the invitation to the 3D2D Contemporary Art Exhibition at the Ilminster Arts Centre Gallery, I said it was organised by SCAN: Somerset Contemporary Artists’ Network. Correction: it was Caroline Mornement, publisher and artist, who was invited to curate this exhibition by and for the Ilminster Gallery. She did a great job, and the exhibition has been highly acclaimed. If I hadn’t been so busy talking to all the many people who attended the Private View I might have taken some photos to post here, but I didn’t, so you will just have to go! It’s on this weekend and until 18th April, so still plenty of time.

While you are in that area you might also like to visit an exhibition in Honiton at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery. I haven’t been yet, but it looks very exciting from the Private View card:

drop me a line invite

It is the work of Louise Baker and Michael Fairfax, and a great many other artists they invited to submit as well. You are going to be hearing quite a bit about Michael Fairfax on this blog in the following months as he will be creating a sound sculpture here at the Dove. Stay tuned.

Step in Stone is the title of an art project I am involved in this year, taking the limestone quarries on the Mendips as inspiration. Here is the description of the project from the website:

“step in stone will be a collaborative, multi-stranded art trail around 3 disused and working quarries in the East Mendips, illuminating these spectacular, hidden landscapes while exploring Somerset’s heritage and beauty.  Fourteen artists, all with connections to South West England, will create a series of site-specific, temporary artworks for a curated trail in response to the nature of quarries and their place in the cultural and industrial heritage of the region. Contemporary sculpture, land art, photography, textiles, painting, drawing, sound, spatial poetry and printmaking will be installed within these environments, aiming to surprise, delight, challenge, fascinate and inform.”

It has been extraordinary to discover these vast hidden places so near to home, with their instant geology lessons and strange flora: bright green moss being one of the most striking. I’ve been to the Fairy Cave quarry a couple of times: this is a disused quarry not normally accessible to the public, though during Somerset Art Weeks this year, the public will be invited in to see the Art trail created by Step in Stone artists. The echo there is extraordinary: you can conduct a conversation with someone right over the other side without raising your voice. Birds were the only creatures I saw there, and the vegetation is largely spindly birch trees and buddleia: in other words, anything that can get a grip in an almost soil free environment.

Westdown rockfaceFairy Quarry rockfaceWestdown moss

And here is an etching I made: ‘Rim” – actually I was halfway through making it, but after the first quarry experience I took a bandsaw to it and made a cut. Like what happens in quarries.

Rim (Etching)By the way, the name Fairy Cave Quarry comes from one of the caves accessible – through an alarmingly small cleft in the rock – from this quarry: the Fairy Cave, with fabulous stalactites and stalagmites, and, I think someone said, once a food store for the Abbot at Glastonbury. They were everywhere, those monks.



Mud and Thread

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BTW poems and links to Barbara Turney Wieland

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Produced by Artichoke and commissioned by 14-18 NOW, PROCESSIONS marks 100 years since the first women in the UK won the vote. Somerset Art Works and artist Dorcas Casey deliver a programme of creative workshops leading to Somerset participation in the PROCESSIONS mass participation artwork in London on 10 June 2018.

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