Hauser & Wirth Somerset

Pumpkins, giant spiders and a space-age pavilion. Its all in the name of art. And what a wonderful art venue it is too. Hauser & Wirth Somerset, nestled in the countryside just outside the historic town of Bruton, was born back in 2014, from a vision to be a first class art centre, showcasing international contemporary art alongside a community arts education programme.

Originally an 18th century derelict farm, today the venue features 5 gallery spaces and includes a library, bespoke art garden (by Piet Oudoulf who also designed NYC’s High Line park), farmhouse accomodation, art and book shop, outdoor sculpture, artist residencies, an artist designed bar and a self-sustained restaurant that’s supplied by vegetables and livestock produced on the farm. Its my dream come true!

Hauser & Wirth is an international gallery with a presence in London, NYC, LA, and Zurich. Swiss owners Iwan and Manuela Wirth have a house in Bruton which led to them dreaming up the idea of buying a farm and building a gallery with a changing programme of art and sculpture. Its an incredible place and a great visit for all the family.

The gardens are absolutely breathtaking. We visited in Autumn, when most gardens tend to look a bit rubbish and dormant – not so the Oudolf designed meadow which is a riot of firey colours, black seed pods and muted colour palette.

The gallery sent me a photo of the gardens in the summer – I can’t wait to revisit at this time of year too:
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Radic Pavilion, designed by Smiljan Radic, 2014. Hauser & Wirth Somerset 2015. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Heather Edwards

The space-like structure seen in the photo above is one of the pavilions designed for the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park each summer. This one is the Radić Pavilion, by Hauser & Wirth artist Smiljan Radić in 2014. It now resides at the end of the gallery’s meadow and plays host to talks and events during the warmer weather.

During our visit the gallery was showing a series of works by seminal French artist Louise Bourgeois. To the uninitiated, she may not appear to be the most straight forward of artists, but her work is beautifully poetic and sensitive, with motherhood as a strong theme throughout. ‘Turning Inwards’ features 38 etchings, seen together for the first time, plus selected work on paper and sculpture including one of the artist’s renowned bronze Spider sculptures. The more you read about this artist’s work, the more engaging it is.

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Spider, Louise Bourgeois, 1996
“The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. . . Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.” Louise Bourgeois
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“A work of art doesn’t have to be explained. If you do not have any feeling about this, I cannot explain it to you. If this doesn’t touch you, I have failed.” Louise Bourgeois
After our tour of the galleries and gardens, we stopped for a welcomed lunch at the Roth Bar & Grill (designed by Björn and Oddur Roth, son and grandson of Swiss artist Dieter Roth). The menu changes daily, providing seasonal dishes from the Hauser & Wirth farm and kitchen garden. We had  a delicous Welsh Rarebit made from local Godminster cheddar. Be sure to book as it is very popular.
The gallery is completely free to visit and open six days a week, all year round (10-4 in winter, 10-5 in summer). I really can’t recommend this place highly enough. The first Saturday of each month is ‘Family Saturday’, check out their programme for brilliantly themed workshops. Sadly we just missed the pumpkin carving… but hope to go along to the next one on 3rd December, Festive Family, which includes making Louise Bourgeois inspired decorations (sparkly spider anyone?) and a food fair.
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The Louise Bourgeois exhibition continues until 1 Jan 2017 and the next exhibitions are ‘Elisabeth Frink. Transormation’ and Djordje Ozbolt. Brave New World’. Both run from 19 January to 7 May 2017.
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Book up for school holidays now!
Theres plenty of great accomodation in the area, these are some of my favourites:

7 Comments

    1. katejones1

      Haha Elena!! Yes, it takes real mental focus to overcome my natural fear of spiders and see it as a maternal being instead… as much as I love it for the artist’s intention, I’m not sure I could have it in my garden! X

      Liked by 1 person

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