21 September 2014

Hauser & Wirth Somerset

Hauser & Wirth Somerset recently opened at Durslade Farm on the edge of the small town of Bruton. Part of a major international art dealership, it seems a long way from their other establishments in Zurich, London, New York and Los Angeles - which is not to say that South West England should be anything but grateful for the arrival of a world-class gallery and arts centre. The investment in renovating buildings and two new-build galleries designed by the Parisian architects, Laplace, must have been considerable. Hauser & Wirth’s aim for the gallery is to:
… share contemporary art with new audiences and … to engage the public with art, the countryside and the local community. The centre will also provide resources including an archive, reading room, landscaped garden designed by Piet Oudolf and a restaurant for locally-sourced food
Admission is free and there are two opening shows underway. Open Field consists of Oudolf’s designs for this and other projects including The High Line in New York and the Serpentine Gallery in London. Anyone interested in garden design and planting will no doubt enjoy learning more about Oudolf’s approach and his choices for the Hauser & Wirth Somerset garden which contains over 26,000 herbaceous perennials, (below, with Anri Sala’s perspective-defying Clocked Perspective 2012).

The inaugural art exhibition is GIG by Phyllida Barlow. Barlow was commissioned by Tate Britain in 2014 to produce a large sculptural installation for the Duveen Galleries, known as dock. At Bruton she has produced a series of installations responding to the gallery’s spaces and rural surroundings, made with common materials similar to those in dock: cement, cardboard, expanded polystyrene, plywood, timber and so on. Photography is not permitted indoors but images are available for untitled (suspended fabric pompoms, below left) and grinder, (below right.

After seeing postscorral inside and stackedchairs (below) outside in the Piggery, I began to wonder whether Barlow had been to the Somerset coast, the latter work called to mind deckchairs at Clevedon or Weston-super-Mare. But part of the fascination of Barlow’s work is that every visitor will be reminded of something different as they walk round, through or under her constructions. Moreover on close examination the viewer begins to appreciate how complex these constructions are in the ways they have been assembled from numerous components and also the subtlety of their colouring.

Photography is unlimited outside and works which I liked included Louise Bourgeois’ Spider 1994 (below, top) and Josephson’s Untitled 1970/73 (below, lower).

It was a delight to visit Hauser & Wirth Somerset on one of the last days of this summer. However, I couldn’t help wondering whether work by Pipilotti Rist will be as appealing to visitors from far and near on a wet Wednesday afternoon in February when the garden will have little to offer but muddy shoes. Across the front of Durslade Farm is a neon by Martin Creed, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT (2011, Work 1086, below top with Subodh Gupta’s Untitled, 2008 in the foreground). Well, I do hope so and that it won’t be necessary to seek comfort from the stylish French neon described in a post here earlier this year: Jamais renoncer. And, of course, it’s far better for the South West that Iwan and Manuela Wirth chose to make Bruton their home and a location for a new gallery rather than, say, Beijing.

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