October 6, 2015
Brean Down Fort is centre of focus for artists for Somerset Art Weeks

A group of artists are bringing the story of Brean Down fort to life for the duration of Somerset Art Weeks between 3rd–18th October.

The ‘Sense of Place’ exhibition involves four Somerset-based artists; Donna Vale, Joy Merron, Amanda Boyd and Jon England working alongside conservation scientist Matthew Bjerregaard from Visual Persistence and Melinda Watson from the RAW Foundation.

Each is conveying their own individual response to communicate and bring to life the history of Brean Down Fort through large and small-scale installations.

The aim of the project is to respond to the stories of the people, the landscape and the buildings; forming a connection to those who lived and worked at Brean Down. Past histories have been brought to life through the arts to capture the imagination of visitors.

They say Brean Down itself is key to the work, with the profoundly dramatic peninsula and striking disposition of the buildings.

"Brean Down never fails to amaze me," says artist Donna Vale who came up with the initial concept of the project.

"With its unique landscape and spectacular views, this really is an installation on the edge."

Through place and identity, human element and emotion, researching local stories and kept memories the artists have created a visually appealing exhibition in a unique environment.

Deterioration and weathering is a central theme to the display, incorporating wartime letters, photographs and the sound of conflict.

The art pieces range from textiles interwoven with narratives belonging to local voices, to a large animated Zoetrope to light the dark space.

In contrast, large-scale installations such as an extensive ‘fishing net’ web of mirrored and clear acrylic, perfectly captures the flash of sunlight on fish scales, sea spray and rolling waves. The flow of elements and livelihoods is being represented through the buildings, drifting across and between fort structures, reflecting a sense of fluidity and time; bridging the past and connecting the future.

Tess Hirst, Visitor Experience Manager at Brean Down, says: "We are excited to see the artworks in place at the fort. Having been planning with the artists for the last year, it is fascinating to see everything coming together and all the pieces beautifully supporting and complimenting one another despite being so dramatically diverse."

"Additionally, much of the work incorporates discarded plastics found during beach clean ups, providing a poignant reminder of our continuing impact on the landscape."

Melinda Watson from the Raw Foundation will run educational ‘plastic-free’ workshops at Brean Down Café during Somerset Art Weeks, providing inspiration on how to reduce plastic use and its impact on the environment. The space above the café will also serve as an additional gallery.

The exhibition at Brean Down fort and at Brean Down Cove Café will be open every Thursday – Sunday during Somerset Art Weeks, 11 – 4pm. Raw Foundation ‘Plastic-free’ workshops will be held on Sunday 4, Thursday 8, Friday 9 and Friday 16 October 11 – 4pm. The Big Draw workshop will be held on Sunday 11 October 11 – 4pm.

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