Sunday, 20 August 2017

Articles in Swindon Advertiser and Wiltshire Life

I met with Swindon Advertiser reporter, Tom Seaward the other day to discuss who would be featured in this year's promotional articles for Swindon Open Studios. It means a great deal to us to be featured in the Swindon Advertiser, we spread the word about the two open studios weekends, on 9/10 and 16/17 September as much as possible via social media, but Adver articles certainly help extend out audiences. I will just mention that we've also incorporated a midweek opening on Wednesday 13 September which some artists have taken advantage of.
This week we had a lovely piece on Ruth Wintle:
with a great accompanying photo:
I'm looking forward to seeing who's next in the Adver.
I'll also include the first article we had in the Adver when the brochures were first published:

Wiltshire Life also agreed to publish a feature on Swindon Open Studios in their lovely magazine, in the current issue, they published this piece featuring Chris, Lamorna and Dominic Waddell, a very artistically talented family. Artists Terry Humphries and Tim Carroll are also featured in this article:
 Obviously you can't read this article here, because it's too low resolution,but Wiltshire Life is now on sale in newsagents.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Old Town Art Trail

Coming soon …All Welcome to join us for this year’s Swindon Open Studios OLD TOWN TRAIL and LAUNCH EVENING… Each year in August a small selection of Swindon Open Studio artists showcase their art work in the Old Town business windows.
This year ALL are welcome to join us on our Launch evening on Tuesday 29th August, 5pm to introduce the wonderful 2017 Swindon Open Art Studios. The launch social evening will consist of a trail on foot alongside the artists around the participating Old Town venues, admiring and discussing the beautiful and affordable art work! There will be opportunities to purchase refreshments during the trail.
The Old Town Trail will start promptly at 5.00pm at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and will continue in the order listed below.
There will be opportunities to purchase refreshments during the trail in the Old Town businesses listed.
Start 5pm - Swindon Museum and Art Gallery In-toto Kitchens Swindon
Willoby's Furniture Company
Young's of Wood Street
Balula’s Delicatessen and CafĂ©
Deacons Jewellers
BellaJoJos Pet Boutique & Spa
Wilson's Family Butcher
The Midcounties Cooperative
Minuteman Press Swindon
Kablooms and the Flower Basket
The Hop Inn
Rays Ice Cream
The Core Juice Bar and Holistic Lounge
1801 Cocktails and Coffee
The Beehive
Eastcott Veterinary Clinic and Hospital (not viewable on launch eve)
The Old Town Trail images will be exhibited from Monday 21st August - Monday 18th September 2017 to advertise the forthcoming September 2017 Swindon Open Studios.
Open studios is an annual opportunity to meet amateur and professional artists in the wider Swindon area and visit their studios, workshops or pop up galleries over the second two weekends of September.
Please ring 07788887726 on the evening if you cannot make the start time and would like to join us on route

SOS 2017 Poster

This is our poster, a high resolution one is available.

The 2017 SOS Brochure

Brochures are available from artists taking part, all libraries, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Old Town Post Office and will soon be available from all businesses participating in the Art Trail. They are also available from the orange recycling bin in the driveway of 52, St.Margaret's Road, SN3 1RX.
I'm saying this because I'm going to put low resolution images of bits of the brochure on here, and it won't be very legible, but think it's a good idea to include it here.
Firstly the front and back covers, the front cover has the glorious painting 'Splat the Rat playing at the Town Gardens' by Terry Humphries, and you may notice that Wednesday 13 September also appears as one of the open studios dates.  We thought we'd add an extra day between the 2 weekends, please do check that the artist you want to see is open on that day, not everyone is doing so. I'll also mention Facebook and Twitter accounts, I've added links so you can see them, if you'd like to include us in your social media posts, as many are already doing, that would be great. We've added logos from our sponsors the Co-op and Deacons Jewellers and Swindon Libraries because they always host several artists, Artsite because of their fabulous support over the years, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery who are opening this year on Sunday as well as Saturday when Susan Carr and Terry Humphries will be there for the first weekend.
And last, but by no means least, Mark Lapping at Minuteman Press who designed this beautiful brochure.
Opening the brochure completely, Venue 1 is Artsite in Theatre Square in the Town Centre.
There are 6 studios to visit in the town centre, then venues 7-9 in Highworth , and venues 10& 11 in Wroughton.

North and East comes next with Venues 12-19, followed by North and West, Venues 21-28, and 29-31 in Longcot.

 On the other side, underneath the front and back pages, Venues 32-45 in Old Town with a #BacktheBid section, for more on plans for the new Museum and Art Gallery in the town centre, please visit

 There's also a map included to help plan visits, we've added postcodes to help locate all venues.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Salisbury Museum

The garden tour ended in Salisbury with a visit to the British Art: Ancient Landscapes at the Salisbury Museum. I'd read the description of the exhibition and was keen to see it:
'The British landscape has been a continual inspiration to artists across the centuries and particularly the landscapes shaped and marked by our distant ancestors. The megaliths, stone circles and chalk-cut hill figures that survive from Neolithic and Bronze Age times have stimulated many artists to make a response. In this major new exhibition curated by Professor Sam Smiles, these unique artistic responses have been brought together to create a new discussion. Featuring the work of some of the greatest names in British art from the last 250 years, see John Constable, JMW Turner, Eric Ravilious, John Piper, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Richard Long, Derek Jarman and more, as their work records and reflects on some of our most treasured ancient landscapes.'
It's as good as it sounds it would be, but no photography of the exhibition means I can't share any of the delights here.
I rather liked their signage outside the museum:
And I do like these Shell prints, this one is the Old Man of Wilmington by Denis Constanduros. I've found out more about Denis on the blog: by a blogger called Crownfolio.
After looking round the museum, we had lunch on the lawn in front with a perfect view of Salisbury Cathedral
And with that view ended the 2017 garden tour.

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

 The garden was created by Elizabeth Fox-Strangeways in 1765 as a kitchen garden for her nearby castle. It has developed since then into a 30 acre garden filled with rare and exotic plants.
Abbotsbury Subtopical Gardens apart from being an RHS partner garden and an award winning garden, has been described by Alan Titchmarsh as 'one of the finest gardens I have ever visited'
High accolades and I wasn't disappointed, it's a fabulous garden.
This was the first view of the garden:
There was a great selection of mature perennials
and beautifully trained honeysuckle
Shrubby clematis
beautiful Alliums
and Iris
If you look through the trees, you can just see St Catherine's Chapel, a 14th century, it once held a beacon that was lit to ward off sailors from the treacherous Chesil beach.

Below is the pocket handkerchief tree, it's not easy to see the white leaves.

There was a chain link bridge over a stream
with subtropical foliage around it
Huge Echiums
Carp filled pools with food to feed them
A perfect Aeonium
and this fabulous Chilean Puya Alpestris
At some stage I was surprised to hear the sounds of a beach, not realising quite how close Chesil Beach was to the  garden.
It was glorious to walk along the beach after the delights of the garden.
When I got home, I discovered I had 3 small rounded pebbles in my socks.

Forde Abbey

Forde Abbey was built almost 900 years ago by Cistercian monks, set in the most beautiful countryside, it seems miles from anywhere. We followed directions, but had the feeling we were driving round in circles when Crewkerne got nearer, then further away, then nearer again!
We were greeted with these beautiful Alliums and a welcoming sign.
We looked round the plant sales first
There was an excellent choice of plants to buy
We were told when we arrived that if we hurried out into the garden, we'd be in time to see the fountain, reputedly England's highest powered fountain.Despite the rain, it was a lovely sight, we didn't run in and out of it because we were wet already. This what the website says about the fountain:
'The Centenary Fountain celebrates 100 years of the Roper family at Forde Abbey. Powered by a pump from the strawberry farm on the estate, it reaches a height of 160 feet and is the highest powered fountain in England. Running in and out of the spray is a great sport for younger visitors to the garden and if you stand at the top end of the fountain, you’ll often see a rainbow.'
I had chance to take a photo of the lovely border, and
took another photo of the fountain, was it higher now?
We got fairly wet and had tea in the renowned medieval vaulted Undercroft tearoom after having a really good look round the gardens. I decided I'd like a Sambucus, the scent from theirs was just magnificent.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


Montacute is a small village 4 miles west of Yeovil with a population of 831. At the centre of the village is a large square around which are grouped cottages and a pub, The Phelips Arms, all built in the local hamstone There's a second pub and hotel called the Kings Arms. There's also a medieval church and a conically acute hill dominating the village to the west called St Michael's Hill.
We stayed in Montacute museum which was situated almost adjacent to the Phelips Arms and a great location from which to visit gardens and of course climb the hill. Be warned though if you visit Montacute, despite its small population, the 2 pubs get booked up; the first night we were unable to eat at either place.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Montacute House, we had a guided tour of the house and gardens, and I took a few photos:
This piece of glass was beautiful, and had at some stage been discarded. It displays the coat of arms, and there's a fascinating story behind it.
There's a fascinating tapestry
and glorious old coloured glass
So beautiful
I love the slightly different colours of the glasses. Montacute House has been linked to the National Portrait Gallery for 40 years, they have a remarkable exhibition of portraits in the long gallery at the top of the house
In the garden there were some lovely structures
and gate houses, in this one a visitor had amazing dropped a can of fizzy pop.
Montacute village, it's surroundings and Montacute House are well worth a visit.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Tintinhull Garden

Tintinhull Garden was the fourth garden of the day, normally I'd feel that 2 gardens per day would be an absolute maximum, but in Somerset, there are so many gardens to visit, and I didn't want to miss too many out.
The garden was created in the last century around the 17th century manor house, the garden is divided into rooms by clipped hedges and walls, with each room having its own character and identity. Included are The Pool Garden, Fountain Garden and traditional Kitchen Garden, the planting schemes are carefully thought out and the effect is charming.The garden is largely the creation of Phyllis Reiss who moved to Tintinhull with her husband in 1933, later on Penelope Hobhouse moved in and managed the garden in the 1980s
There are many long vistas, this one was to the seated area at one end of the Pool Garden, I would like to have sat in it, but a group stayed in there chatting for the whole time we were walking round the garden
This is the vista seen when walking through the middle garden towards the fountain garden.
In the kitchen garden, the lavender edging the bed was stunning
Did it look more like this? I'm forever trying to catch the mood and the colours, I think ti may have been in between the two photos
The sweet peas were glorious
and these lettuces were fabulous
A very healthy Datura
and since it was past 5pm, we gave up trying to sit down in the Pool Garden and took this photo from in front of the cabin.
The garden is very tranquil and as commented elsewhere a gardener's garden.