Thursday, 29 January 2015

Durslade Farm


High flying Swiss couple Iwan Wirth, Manuela Hauser, and their four children have recently setup home in Somerset; a landscape steeped in Arthurian myths and site of the legendary 'Avalon'.
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Dealers in cutting edge art and design, they own contemporary art galleries in London, New York City, Zurich and Los Angeles. 
In 2012 they received planning permission to renovate a mid C18 century Somerset farmhouse and its outbuildings; the whole complex is now open to the public
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A version of the celebrated giant spider, Maman by the French-American Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) can be found lurking in one of the courtyards 

A giant stainless steel milk pail sculptured by Subodh Gupta is placed near the original 
 Granary which sits on staddle stones - is this Conceptual Art? 
Admission is free, but donations to their chosen charity the 'Somerset Wildlife Trust', are welcome. There is an ambitious arts centre with a gallery, bookshop, learning room, restaurant, farm shop and a 1.5 acre perennial meadow designed by the Dutch master landscape designer, Piet Oudolf.

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Summer
They have an artist in residence programme which encourages integration within the local community and the benefits accrued to them by living in idyllic surroundings. 
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The restaurant is in a former cowshed - in the dining area there is a vibrant neon central light by the late American Jason Rhoades (1965-2006) 
The 18th century farmhouse itself is used for visiting guests and artists, but can be rented for family holidays, wedding parties, etc.
White undergarments attached to cables light up the evening sky!!! 
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There is a great buzz and a lively party atmosphere down on the farm

66 comments:

  1. It looks like a fabulous place to visit, except for the spider..we have ones almost that big here haha

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    1. I think that my preference would be for the Louise Bourgeois spider, big, big real spiders, I am not too keen on.

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  2. Yes, I can imagine the buzz and party atmosphere here, Rosemary. The juxtaposition of the contemporary, with the ancient building, stream and stone bridge all work to give the element of surprise and fun. It is interesting to see they have a 'baby' Maman. It is much smaller than the ones I have seen at the Tate and in Ottawa - is this one also by Bourgeois? The legs look simpler than those on the big versions. The perennial meadow is absolutely gorgeous, and a wonderful idea. As for the lights - mmm, not so sure about them, but I imagine they are a big hit with children.

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    1. It is by Louise Bourgeois Patricia, it is part of their own collection. Definitely a baby Maman compared with the one we have seen too at the Guggenheim, Bilbao, but more acceptable to these domestic and agricultural buildings.

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  3. A lovely collage and photo of the meadow at different seasons of the year. I would visit to see that. It's good to know donations go to the Somerset Wildlife Trust.

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    1. January is not the best of months to see the perennial meadow, I think that I will have to return again during the summertime at some stage.

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    1. They have certainly brought a lively buzz to this little bit of Somerset countryside.

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  5. Hello Rosemary,

    Well, this certainly looks like a rags to riches conversion in the Somerset countryside. Perhaps the giant stainless steel bucket is a reference to the dairy farm days of old but, in all other respects, it is difficult to imagine this highly contemporary space as a working farm.

    We are, sad to say, not devotees of prairie gardens. In this location we should have been happier with a simpler design. An orchard, grass pathways.....nothing very much at all......nature would have worked its own magic. But, the idea of breathing new life into somewhere which was so desolate has to be a good thing and this project has certainly achieved that. Would we travel hundreds of miles to see it......possibly not. Would we drop in if in the area........almost certainly.

    As George Bernard Shaw once wrote....'Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything'.....time, as always will tell.

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    1. Dear Jane & Lance - having read about the couples relocation to Somerset from Switzerland I was intrigued to visit and see what they had done. This is not their home, that is most likely some stately or very contemporary pile hidden away in a corner of the sleepy Somerset countryside. Travelling to the coast in Somerset proved to be a good opportunity for us to call in whilst on our journey.
      Apparently The Pail by Subodh Guptais is a reference to everyday objects found in both India's urban and rural communities, it wasn't sculptured for the spot in Somerset but is part of the owners collection - the artist himself lives in New Delhi.

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  6. This is great, they did a great job to create a wonderful place with art there. I remember Gupta, I posted a golden motor with buckets hanging aside in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. He must be smitten by buckets I think....:)

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    1. Thank you I am really interesting to learn this - I had never heard of Subodh Gupta before, but in the contemporary art world apparently he is very well known, and you have just confirmed that. I will see if I can find the post you wrote.

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    2. When you touch the label Rijksmuseum at the bottom of my blog, it is the first picture you see.

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    3. Thank you very much I have had a look and left you a comment.

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  7. Life back into the farm.
    Interesting 'art'. Some people have great imaginations at times. The perrenials look colourful on mass and remind me of some of the wild flowers in Western Australia. Can't say I care for those 'things' hanging...

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    1. I think that the underwear is an unusual concept but they do have the effect of bringing a smile to ones face.

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  8. I have always loved comtemporary art blended with traditional architecture.Most times, this marriage has given excellent outcomes. I adore this renovated farm,I would be happy to visit it, it's so particularly interesting and beautiful.

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    1. Dear Olympia - you are right the old farm and its outbuildings make for a very happy blend in which to house the contemporary art. It is all very new at the moment and overtime will mature and develop further. May be you will have a chance to visit at some stage in the future.

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  9. I've recently discovered quite a few architectural salvage dealers near there so I think it's an area we'll be frequenting. The farm is definitely on the list for a visit, so thank you for the tip. Is the restaurant open at lunchtime?

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    1. Hello Jessica - yes, the restaurant is open all day except for Mondays when the whole complex is closed. The food is almost totally sourced from their farm, and the restaurant is run by the people from 'At The Chapel' Bruton which apparently has a very good reputation.
      If you go over that way on a regular basis, I would visit later in May or June so that you can enjoy the perennial garden in colour.

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  10. Dear Rosemary, I love the whole thing, lighted underwear and all the rest. I agree with the Hattats that the Prairie Garden does not quite fit. But as you mentioned, maybe in the Summer it would be much more interesting. In any case, thanks for including us on your journey. It was a fun read and again, I love your excellent photographs.

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    1. Dear Gina - the perennial garden is in an area behind the modern galleries and not seen from the old farm buildings - it is really best viewed during the summer months as you have mentioned.
      I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing it - it made a pleasant break for us on our journey to the coast.

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  11. Hello Rosemary, It looks like they have got the right mix of old and new to create a definite energy. Naturally, I like the milk pail sculpture; in Massachusetts there was a big dairy named Somerset Farms. On the other hand, I thought the wash-line rather vulgar (the same effect could have been created differently), but I suppose that is the purpose of art installations--you see a lot of new things, and make some discoveries, but not everyone will love every piece.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - As you suggest it would not do for us all to like or admire the same things. I thought that the light installation by the American Jason Rhodes was fun, I don't know whether you know of him or not but he sadly died when he was only 41. None of the exhibits could not be photographed, so I only made pictures of the Wirth's own private pieces.

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  12. Oh, it looks like fun! I'd love to visit there sometime. We have a casting of Maman in Canada too -- at the National Gallery in Ottawa. I love her! We also saw a Maman in Japan when we were there.

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    1. This Maman is just a baby, may be she will grow up to be a big girl one day. I wonder just how many spiders Louise Bourgeois actually created and she was such a tiny little lady.

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  13. What a nice place...funny...the undergarments hanging in the outside.
    Have a nice evening.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Thanks for your visit Inge - some people love the undergarments, others don't - but glad that you found them funny, they brought a smile to my face too.

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  14. Looks like a great place to visit. The undergarments are funny, funny I like, pretenious I don't.

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    1. Fun is the correct word, I agree, and the children love them too.

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  15. Oh what fun. I loved the sculptures and installations. Great photos Rosemary.

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    1. Thank you - I so am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the sculptures and installations - several people have remarked on the fun element. It is very generous that the owners are sharing their private works of art with others.

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  16. Dear Rosemary,

    I really enjoy this place. My initial reaction to the neon sign in the fourth photo was to think, "Oh, dear, someone's going to grump about that!" And then it occured to me that the message in lights was the perfect answer to any negative reaction to it! I'd love to have a visit and a pint where everything is going to be alright! I'm sure this spot is going to continue to evolve in its creativity and in its popularity.

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    1. Dear Mark - nobody else seems to have noticed the neon light message, many comments have referred to the undergarments, some think they are fun and some don't. I liked the place, and appreciated the generosity of the owners to share their art works. Although still in its infancy I am sure that you are right when you say it will continue to evolve.

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  17. What an amazing and fun place to visit! Suzy x

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    1. Hello Suzy - I read about the place a few months ago so when we were headed down to Somerset to visit the coast we decided to try and find it. If you are headed down that way sometime do call in and see for yourself.

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  18. Dear Rosemary, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog!
    Durslade Farm sounds like a really interesting and cool place to visit. I like the combination of old buildings and modern art. It looks like the current owners have been able to create a space were art, artists, the local community and visitors can meet in an exciting new way. Bravo!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Dear Christina - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing what the owners have done and are doing to Durslade Farm. I wonder if you are heading over here again this year? if so, might enjoy visiting and seeing it yourself, especially when the perennial garden is in flower.

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  19. I loved seeing this project. Bet the restaurant is great - the big loaf of country bread on the board would temp me, along with some good cheese and a bottle of red, I'd be quite satisfied!
    As for hanging out, and illuminating no less, one's drawers - I'm still on the fence about that, haha!
    Sounds like Somerset, neighbor to my dear Devon, is not all sleepy and mellow any longer - big things are happening!
    Hope you entire visit was a lot of fun dear Rosemary.
    Hugs - Mary

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    1. Dear Mary - this area of Somerset seems to be the 'in place' at the moment with some of the London crowd. The small town of Bruton has railway links to London, and there are some lovely properties to be found.
      All of the produce in the restaurant is produced on the farm or else locally sourced, it was a hive of activity.
      We used our visit as a stopping off point on our way down to the coast. We were very lucky with the weather, January is not the wisest of months to travel.

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  20. Oh this looks amazing Rosemary and it will definitely go on my list of places to visit. Beautiful photos. P x

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    1. If you are travelling down through Somerset to Devon or Cornwall it is a good stopping off point and makes a pleasant break.

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  21. Like the third picture and the iron bucket.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  22. It always amazes me how inventive and creative some people are -you have to have a vision and be brave to go forward like this.

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    1. I suppose when we look back, it is often the creative people that get remembered most down the centuries - they leave a tangible mark.

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  23. This looks wonderful! A must for a visit this year - hopefully in Spring NOT Autumn. On an Autumn visit to the grassy gardens of Scampston Hall, also a Piet Oudolf creation, my friend excitedly ran her fingers through the grasses and seed heads, She filled the air with flying fluff and husks and I had a very frightening choking fit!

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    1. Dear Nilly - I should imagine that June is probably the best time to see the garden in good colour, and you would be safe from the flying bits too. I would very much enjoy seeing your take on the place. I have seen photos of Scampston Hall and it looks wonderful.

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  24. What a remarkable place. The setting, too. So beautiful. Thanks for this, Rosemary.

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    1. I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing it Yvette, it is already being nick-named the Guggenheim of Somerset.

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  25. Hi Rosemary -- To answer your question on my blog today -- yes, the one dollar Canadian coin does indeed have a loon (diving bird) on it and that's why we call the coin a "loonie." Our two dollar coin has a polar bear on it but we call it a "toonie" since it is two loonies!

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    1. Thanks for letting me know Debra - I have four Canadian dollars my Canadian SiL sent me in 1987. I have just dug them out of the box and looked at them for the first time since receiving them, and yes, they have the 'loonie'. I checked them out on Google and apparently 1987 was the first year they were issued showing a loon, so now I know why she sent them to us. Thanks to you a little bit of history has been unveiled.
      By the way I love to hear the haunting sounds of the Loon floating across your Canadian lakes.

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  26. Seems like they got a great business, and what a wonderful place !

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    1. It must be such a joy to be an artist who is invited to stay here for several months and simply give themselves over to creating.

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  27. It sounds and looks like a very interesting place to visit! xx

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    1. Durslade Farm is in its infancy and I imagine that it will continue to develop even more.

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  28. Wow! What a place to visit! Look´s great...
    Have a happy weekend, take care!
    Titti

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    1. It is somewhere that I will return to

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  29. So cool!!! I think the juxtaposition of old and new is fabulous. And that giant pail paying homage is brilliant. Everything is done with a twist - beyond!

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    1. As it matures it should become better and bettter - it is an asset for that area of Somerset.

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  30. Yu find interesting aspects even in January's plant-slumber (or life :-), thank you for that! I especially love the undies on the cables - hahaha, a glimpse from Naples sights.

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    1. Yes, yes dear Britta you are right, definitely a touch of the Italiano flying over the skies in Somerset

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  31. Another amazing place that I have never heard of before. Thanks for introducing us to these brilliant places. Another one for my 'To Visit' list. I'll try & pin them, got a 'To Visit' list on pinterest. Might be a technology step too far, we'll see. x

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    1. Hope you have the chance to visit one day - if you pin it then may be you will more likely to remember and make a visit.

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  32. Back in the latter part of the autumn I was looking for pictures on pinterest for inspiration for the garden and came across their web site. I had too earmarked this as a place to visit when everything is in flower! It was lovely to see this post all about it. Sarah x

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    1. You must visit in the summer Sarah - I should like to return sometime to see the garden when in bloom. As Durslade Farm is in its infancy I think it will continue to grow and develop more

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