All you need to know about the Somerset Open Studios 2018

Visit the Glassworks at Moorlinch to see glassmaker Paul Larner

Visit the Glassworks at Moorlinch to see glassmaker Paul Larner - Credit: Archant

There’s a unique opportunity to explore the world of the artist’s studio this month when hundreds of painters, printmakers, sculptors, photographers, designers and craftmakers take part in Somerset Open Studios 2018

Elizabeth Barry at work in her Ashwick studio (c) Fiona Murray

Elizabeth Barry at work in her Ashwick studio (c) Fiona Murray - Credit: Archant

Have you ever wondered what it’s like inside an artist’s studio? Many of these otherwise private and personal spaces will be opening up to the public for the Somerset Open Studios event.

Over the course of two weeks, from September 15-30, more than 300 artists in almost 200 venues will be showing their work, talking to visitors, giving demonstrations and sometimes offering refreshments in this major county-wide event.

Artists’ Open Studios can be found in surprising and unusual locations across the county providing an opportunity to explore Somerset’s many different and distinct regions.

Illustrator Harriet Popham is exhibiting at Huntstile Organic Farm with Lizzie Ridout (c) JackWiseal

Illustrator Harriet Popham is exhibiting at Huntstile Organic Farm with Lizzie Ridout (c) JackWiseallPhotography - Credit: Archant

Exmoor and West Somerset

Head to the coast for Contains Art Studios in Watchet, where Andy Davey has recreated the ambience of his Minehead home studio. He’s sharing the space with his son Leo and together they will show mostly small works predominantly abstract but originating from their experience of the landscape. They’re joined by Sue Lowe, whose richly-textured prints reflect the layers, surfaces and patterns in the land, in particular the unique geology of the West Somerset coast, and by Georgina Towler who will be creating a large-scale installation within the courtyard. Also in Watchet is the studio of Jenny Barron who paints still life watercolours, with the occasional departure into the whimsical, quirky and surreal.

Some of the larger venues include Lanacre Barn Gallery at Withypool on Exmoor where Jo Minoprio lives and works exploring her passion for beech hedges and big skies using watercolour and ink and she’ll be sharing the space with her photographer son Louis.

Driftwood artist Emma Duke is at Ashfield Farm, Crowcombe (c) Allan Burnell

Driftwood artist Emma Duke is at Ashfield Farm, Crowcombe (c) Allan Burnell - Credit: Archant

Halsway Manor, near Crowcombe in the Quantocks is hosting a residency with Andrea Oke. Shadowland draws on the manor’s rich folk heritage of dragons, devils, murder and ghosts and Andrea will be exploring some of these forgotten people and stories.

Other disciplines and art forms on display in West Somerset include Lucy Large’s aluminium mesh bird sculptures and a wide range of jewellery from Emma Lumley and also Cecilia Leete and Debbie McCarty at Exmoor Jewellers.

Julia Manning at work in her garden studio (c) Pauline Rook

Julia Manning at work in her garden studio (c) Pauline Rook - Credit: Archant

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Venues in Sedgemoor feature pieces by artists living and working with and alongside the natural materials and wildlife found on the Somerset Levels.

There’s Bawdrip printmaker Jackie Curtis who makes use of the natural grain, flaws and shape of the material to create her woodblock prints and Sarah Webb who uses local willow to make baskets and sculptures at her Combwich studio.

Woodturner George Foweraker creates a vast range of items from pens, bowls and platters to garden sculptures from locally sourced native timbers in Burnham-on-Sea.

Working at the nearby Old Piggery Studio, artist Judith Champion creates atmospheric landscapes using acrylics, oil, inks and reeds. In contrast, Anne Carpenter creates fabric collage pictures from her Shipham studio and, very different again, is Woolavington-based Nick Fraser who uses scrap metal and salvaged materials to make sculptures ranging in size from a small snail to a full grown man - and everything in between.

Chris Kampf works with metal to create his sculptures

Chris Kampf works with metal to create his sculptures - Credit: Archant

Taunton Deane

There’s a string of open studios across the Blackdown Hills, including farms and barns. The Old Brick Workshop at Poole, just outside Wellington, is the venue for two groups of artists providing a mix of sculpture, photography, painting, mixed media and ceramics as well as the ancient medium of silverpoint. There’s also a café offering locally ground coffee and cake.

Annie Musgrove is opening her Wellington studio for the first time. Her large collection of atmospheric oil paintings, etchings and prints is inspired by Exmoor and the coast.

Jeremy Crockett at Pitminster works with the unpredictability of raku firing for creating his pottery and there’s a new studio and art gallery to explore at Waterrow belonging to ceramicist Treston Holmes, where he works with his apprentice daughter Fiona.

Anglo/Australian textile artist Caroline Hawkins is offering daily demonstrations in her hay barn studio at Hillcommon. Inspired by wildlife, her fibre art style has developed under the mentorship of a Gunditjmarra weaver.

Quoll by Caroline Hawkins

Quoll by Caroline Hawkins - Credit: Archant

South Somerset

A variety of painting is represented in South Somerset - from the expressive, emotive and gestural by Angela Charles and Ashar, to more figurative and descriptive work by Max Oliver and Gerald John Moore.

Max, winner of Dorset Magazine’s Landscape Artist of the Year 2016, will be showing oil paintings in his Silver Ash Farm studio at Castle Cary.

Julia Manning, a member of Pine Feroda, will be exhibiting a selection of large and small limited edition woodcut prints and etchings in her garden studio at Keinton Mandeville, along with potter Paul Stubbs.

Multimedia artist Lydia Needle is at the ACEarts in Somerton where she uses re-purposed materials, beach-combed finds and organic materials such as wool and earth. She will be joined by textile artist Rebecca Bruton.

The Archaeology of Destruction collaboration between artists Jenny Graham and Farmer Glitch responds to the disused industrial sites in and around Yeovil. Working in different disciplines, which include sound, video, photography and found objects, they will show examples of their individual practices in separate gallery spaces. Also working with reclaimed materials, George Hider creates sculptures from scrap steel – you can chat with him about his work at his farm in Merriott.

Glass artists are well represented in South Somerset. At Kingsbury Episcopi Sally Kent uses richly coloured fused glass to create a variety of pieces ranging from tiny birds to vivid splashbacks and garden pieces inspired by the landscape. Working near Chard, John Payne specialises in fused and slumped glass and leaded work.


There are thriving artistic communities working in and around the Mendips, with over 50 taking part in open studios this year.

The Silk Mill in Frome hosts several individual artists including painters Amanda Bee, Lynn Keddie and Sally Whelan, clothing by designer Hayley Trezise and jewellery by Clare Lloyd.

The Red Brick Building in Glastonbury is home to a diverse collective of international artists. Among them are Terry Flaxton and Charlotte Humpston, from the Somerset-based artists’ agency Visualfields, painter Paul Branson and photographer John Fleming.

Wells is host to the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen where photographer Pauline Rook, glass artist Sue Sinclair and metal sculptor Chris Kampf will be exhibiting, among others.

Nearby, at West Horrington, there’s the fine drawing work of multi-discipline artist Fiona Hingston. Also well worth a visit is Angie Rook’s studio in the village of North Wootton, where she paints the beautiful scenery around her.

Boop Design at Fenny Castle welcomes visitors to its busy ceramics farm studio to view the making process from slipcasting to decorating – as well as enjoy a cup of tea and cake in its riverside pop-up café.

Tea’s also on offer at Buckland Dinham where you’ll find two artists’ works on show. A member of the Royal Society of Sculptors, Ian Marlow’s work in stainless steel is influenced by the natural world and Hilary Farthing is a textile artist and painter working with oil and mixed media.

On to cider! Sample Somerset’s iconic drink at a pop-up studio at Pilton Cider with willow artist Angela Morley and oil painter Miriam Sheppard. You can also watch how fabric is made on the loom at Radstock by Mayumi Bottega and see decoupage furniture created by Dimitris Koutroumpas. Finally, pet lovers can commission portraits of their animals from artist Joanna Miln at Pylle, who paints pastel animals and birds.

Somerset Open Studios runs from Saturday, September 15 to Sunday, September 30. A guide with full details is available from tourist information centres, libraries, museums, cafés and bookshops throughout Somerset or at