At half term, I took the family on a day trip to Hauser and Wirth at Durslade Farm in Somerset as I had been recommended it by a friend as a good day out. When I looked at their website, I noticed they had an artists talk by Ewa Monika Zebrowski about her books she creates. So I booked us in for that too, a bit of a risk with two teenagers, but they agreed and off we went!
Hauser and Wirth have a London gallery, which I've never been to, but I can vouch for the Somerset space as being really special. It offers a cultural experience the like of which you would only get in the capital, but just down the road in a stunning rural setting. The site includes beautifully landscaped gardens by Piet Oudolf a well stocked book shop, a café/bar and large interconnecting exhibition spaces.
As described on their website:
"Hauser & Wirth Somerset is a pioneering world-class gallery and multi-purpose arts centre, which acts as a destination for experiencing art, architecture and the remarkable Somerset landscape through new and innovative exhibitions of contemporary art. A landscaped garden, designed for the gallery by internationally renowned landscape architect Piet Oudolf, includes a 1.5 acre perennial meadow, which sits behind the gallery buildings."
We weren't disappointed, as we drove in and parked-up, the giant sculptures in the grounds immediately made you feel as though you were stepping into something special.
The current exibition was 'Louise Bourgeois. Turning Inwards’
"A vast bronze spider, it's eight legs sprawled outwards, pushes against the limits of the small, dark space that encloses it. As they enter the former threshing barn of the converted farm that now houses Hauser & Wirth’s Somerset outpost, visitors to ‘Louise Bourgeois: Turning Inwards’ are left with little choice. In order to cross over to the rest of the galleries, you must pass between the spider’s legs and beneath its towering frame." Apollo Magazine
Passing under this huge creepy spider, we ventured on to the rest of the exhibition, the space is large, and flows through various buildings, leading to the garden where we meandered up to the Radic Pavillion, originally built for the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery, it is now permanently housed here. A fibreglass structure designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radić, it now hosts special events, and creates an end point to the garden, from where you can view the farmhouse and grounds.
The garden has prairie planting, and in late October, although a lot of the flowers were now gone to seed, it still had a beautiful feel to it, I really want to go back in the early summer next time, to experience the fabulous planting in a different phase. A few seeds heads somehow found their way into my pocket...I don't know how that happened!
The highlight of our day trip was having a late lunch in the Roth Bar and Grill. I’m a vegetarian, so I was a little put-off by having to walk past a strange glass-walled salt-curing room, with backlit pigs and sausages hanging to cure in front of a salt brick wall, (almost an istallation in itself!) but the atmosphere in the bar and restaurant made up for the entrance!
There are artworks all over the walls, stuffed and mounted hares with shotguns in the windows and lighting constructed from neon words hanging from the ceilings, the menu was a bit limited for the vegan amongst us, but if you like burgers and chips, it's your place!
We ate our delicious lunch and then went for a dog walk around the outskirts of Bruton, making our way to the ruined dovecote that overlooks the town. Then in the early evening we made our way back to Durslade Farm for the artists talk. Ewa had laid-out her most recent books for us to look at, recited poetry and spoke of her sources of inspiration and the journey that leads to the photographs and the creation of the books. Her most recent book was inspired by American artist Cy Twombly. She is artist in residence for a few weeks and I look forward to seeing what she creates from her rambling around the local Somerset landscape.
All-in-all it was a grand day out, and refreshing to have these kinds of cultural riches on our doorstep!