Visual arts for all

PUBLISHED: 12:51 09 September 2011 | UPDATED: 21:37 20 February 2013

Natalie Parsley

Natalie Parsley

As the annual Somerset Art Weeks gets under way this month, Somerset Life talks to some of those across the county who are showing their work

As the annual Somerset Art Weeks gets under way this month, Somerset Life talks to some of those across the county who are showing their work

Taking place from 17 September to 2 October, Somerset Art Weeks is the largest art event in Somerset with around 400 artists and makers showcasing their work to the public in over 100 venues county-wide. The initiative brings contemporary visual art to everyone with a variety of free group exhibitions and events for all ages including talks, art trails, workshops and mystery tours.

Highlighting the enormous variety of talented, visual artists working across the county, the event showcases a diverse range of media from ceramics, watercolour, textiles and wood to stone, glass and metal as well as digital technology, photography, installations and live arts.
Amongst those taking part are nationally renowned artists Simon Hitchens, Lisa Robertson, Toni Davey, Sonja Klingler, Candace Bahouth and John Candler. Several important emerging artists will also be showcasing their work including Lucy Lean, Andrea Rowbotham, Jon England and Megan Calver.

Venues range from Hestercombe Gardens, near Taunton and historic heritage sites such as Muchelney Abbey and the Tithe Barn at Cotley to public locations throughout the county including village halls, hotels, cafs, and the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton.
We throw the spotlight on just a few of those artists taking part this year.

Lucy Lean, Huish Champflower
Textile and mixed media artist Lucy Lean works with a variety of techniques including manipulating fabric using simple arrangements of stitch, often combining it with other media.
She says: I live in a very beautiful and tranquil part of Somerset with a lovely garden and views of the surrounding countryside. Here I feel a real connection to the natural world which is crucial to my ideas and practice. Growing and observing life in my garden is a continual source of inspiration to me.
I am fascinated by the idea of a universal order that constructs pattern and form and the similarities that exist between the largest and smallest natural phenomenon. I try to reflect some of the beauty and variety that exists in these systems of nature.
Lucys work can be seen at Kings College in Taunton during Somerset
Art Weeks.

Natalie Parsley, Taunton
Artist Natalie Parsley would be the first to admit that the subject matter for her work is unusual.
Based in her studio in Taunton, she creates images of tools and her recent work has been inspired by collections held at the Somerset Heritage Centre.
My technique is mono printing in which I create representational images of tools from drawings Ive made, explains Natalie who is one of around 400 artists and makers showing their work to the public during Somerset Art Weeks.
I print these drawings onto primed or painted paper to create more interesting surfaces or layers to the images. Recently I have begun to use the tools themselves to create the marks when printing. So instead of using a pencil to draw with, Ive made some prints with a hammer creating the image out of lots of hammered marks. As you can maybe imagine its very different and certainly a lot nosier than using a pencil.
Most of my work has been print making but that the medium I use is sometimes dictated by the research Im involved in and I tend to make decisions based on where that research takes me.
As part of Somerset Art Weeks, visitors to the Taunton Conference Centre at Somerset College will be able to see Natalies interpretation of the hurdle making and thatching collections of tools in the Somerset Heritage Centre.
I am interested in how curators of museums, like the Museum of Somerset, take collections of everyday objects and interpret that collection to create a sense of the history and story behind those objects, she explains.
I think that tools appeal to a lot of people in the South West because of the farming connection. It is quite an unusual subject matter and certainly makes conversation wherever it goes.

Ian Edwards, Chard
Sculptor Ian Edwards works with clay and wax and casts limited editions in bronze and also bronze resin.
He became an apprentice at the age of 16 and the Chard-based artist describes the surrounding countryside as immensely inspirational to his work.
I sculpt animals, as an expression of beauty in nature, and human form which symbolises the awakening consciousness within humanity.
Using clay, I create a smooth clean line which emphasises the movement of the animal.
Ians work will be on show during Somerset Art Weeks at Unit 5 Willoughby Place, Millfield Industrial Estate, Chard.

Christopher Jelley, Dunster
Dunster-based Christopher Jelley needed to learn programming and understand computer mapping for his recent works: site specific story walks.
In a nutshell, put an app in your smart phone (along with my walk), go to the start and follow the story. You dont know where you will go, or where the walk finishes, but are guided with satellite accuracy throughout, Christopher explains.
You are asked to read aloud to your group, interact and in some instances create your own art. You become part of the tale, an interaction that blurs the line between reality and fiction.
During Somerset Art Weeks there are three locations for Christophers work (Dunster, Porlock Weir and Horner Woods) three walks and three stories. You will need a smart GPS enabled device (iPhone, Blackberry, Android etc) a little preparation beforehand and then a few friends to enjoy the walk with. At the end of each walk is a hidden log book to sign, and also within the box during the Art Weeks will be a key. With the three keys together a fourth walk will be revealed and those completing this hidden tale during Art Week will receive a specially created piece of art made by Christopher. Further information: or art blog:

Kate Noble, Godney nr Glastonbury
Kate Noble works in many different fields, including painting textiles and film and animation. At her studio in The Old School, Godney, visitors will be able to see her oil paintings where she has explored the areas between figuration and abstraction, and conversational pieces morphing into abstract work (mixed media/resin). There will also be an animation showcase at the Somerset Art Weeks venue, explains Kate.
The works of many animators and artist film makers work will be shown continuously in a fabulous home cinema with enormous screen and surround sound.

To order a free colour brochure for Somerset Arts Week call Somerset Art Works on 01458 253800 or email The guide showing artists and venues is also online at

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