World class gallery

An artist's impression of Hauser & Wirth, courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

An artist's impression of Hauser & Wirth, courtesy of Hauser & Wirth - Credit: Archant

An innovative gallery and arts centre opening in a Somerset town aims to share contemporary art with new audiences

A view of Durslade Farm

A view of Durslade Farm - Credit: Vincent Evans

The conversion of some historic farm buildings on the edge of Bruton is set to put this small but charming South Somerset town on the contemporary art map.

The inaugural exhibition will be a presentation by Phyllida Barlow

The inaugural exhibition will be a presentation by Phyllida Barlow - Credit: Paul Crosby

Hauser & Wirth, a global enterprise with spaces in Zurich, London and New York. will open their new gallery and arts centre next month on the site of Durslade Farm.

With free admission to the public, the gallery will be open six days a week (Tues – Sun, 10 – 5 pm; 10 – 4 pm in winter) and will offer an exhibition programme, learning and artist residencies and a restaurant for locally-sourced food run by Bruton’s award winning At The Chapel. Added to this, a landscaped garden, designed by internationally-renowned Piet Oudolf, will launch in September.

Director of Hauser & Wirth Somerset Alice Workman says: “We are grateful for the ongoing support of the people of Bruton and look forward to sharing the historic buildings and many planned exhibitions and events with the local community and beyond.”

The programme will include collaborations with West Country-based organisations including the Bristol Old Vic and Bath Spa University.

The project is designed around several renovated listed historical buildings as well as two new purpose built galleries. The architectural design and concept for the gallery was developed by Laplace & Co, while the renovations and restorations were conducted by Somerset-based benjamin + beauchamp architects.

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Durslade Farm sits in 100 acres of fields and woodland; the Berkeley family built the first farm buildings on the site in the 1760s.

The earliest and perhaps most striking building is the threshing barn, as well as the farmhouse (which bears the Berkeley family coat of arms) and the stables, both with Gothic façades. A number of additional buildings were added to the farm complex in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Chair of Bruton Chamber of Commerce Tricia Rawlingston Plant is looking forward to the opening of the gallery.

“Durslade Farm was completely abandoned so it is very exciting to see the buildings being renovated so carefully with much regard for the history of the place, plus the new gardens,” she says.

“The Chamber of Commerce supported the applications right from the beginning and hope that it will mean employment for Brutonians, and more visitors to the town.”

The new gallery and arts centre opens on 15 July with a solo exhibition of new sculptures by Phyllida Barlow. Opening alongside will be an exhibition of Piet Oudolf’s planting designs.

Bruton is also famous for...

The American novelist John Steinbeck stayed here in the 1950s and wrote The Acts of King Arthur & His Noble Knights.

Bruton’s great benefactor was royal auditor Hugh Sexey who built a home for the poor in 1638.

The Berkeley family, who gave their name to London’s Berkeley Square and neighbouring Bruton Street, were lords of the manor for about 200 years.

In the 13th century John Le Gaunt owned a mill in Bruton which still bears his name today – the wedding venue Gants Mill & Garden.

The town has long been known for its impressive selection of schools: King’s, founded in 1519, Sexy’s which was established in 1891 and Bruton School for Girls.

And Bruton today…

Well known landmark, The Dovecote, stands on a hill overlooking the town. Local attractions include the award winning Mill on the Brue which offers summer and day camps in over 25 acres of grounds.

Take a walk down the bustling high street and you’ll find a selection of businesses such as antique shops, a florist, garden shop and eating places like the stylish At the Chapel bakery and restaurant. Visit the medieval packhorse bridge, St Mary’s Church, town museum and chapel.