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image: Rebecca Partridge, Week (detail), 2017
Most Admirably Improved by Art, an exhibition of contemporary works, is set alongside original works by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde (1720-1791), Hestercombe’s former owner. The show brings together four contemporary artists Charlotte Hodes, Rebecca Partridge, Kelly Richardson and Fiona Hingston, all of whom, like Bampfylde, began their careers drawing and painting and now through a range of media, respond to the landscapes and the environment of today. Inspired through the history of art and bringing together a mixture of collage and ceramic installation, sculpture, film and painting this show builds links between Bampfylde’s Georgian endeavours and the concerns of artists today.
In the eighteenth century Bampfylde and his contemporaries, such as Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth, George Stubbs and Joshua Reynolds were pushing the boundaries of drawing and painting, responding to the past, looking abroad, yet innovating and creating the first national tradition of art in Britain. Today’s artists are similarly inspired by the history of art yet innovatively respond to the global issues facing us all today.
Timed to coincide with the three hundredth anniversary of Bampfylde’s birth, Hestercombe Gallery's exhibition ‘Most Admirably Improved by Art’, a phrase said of Bampfylde’s Hestercombe by John Collinson, in his 1791 ‘History of the County of Somerset’, is the first in a trilogy of exhibitions celebrating Bampfylde’s life and work. The exhibition opens on 1st March and runs until 28th June 2020.
Alongside this gallery exhibition, and to celebrate Coplestone Warre Bampfylde’s life and his importance to the history of Hestercombe and the South West, we bring together the largest survey of his original artworks and objects ever seen in one place, through the exhibition ‘A Gentleman of Taste’.
Born 300 years ago, on 28th February 1720, C. W. Bampfylde was a talented and multifaceted ‘amateur’ artist. As the former owner of Hestercombe, he designed and built the now restored C18th landscape garden, in addition to producing a swathe of landscape and topographical sketches, paintings and etchings both at Hestercombe and throughout the South West. Private collectors and national institutions have kindly loaned us original works that will tell the story of Bampfylde’s life through five different aspects: Bampfylde at home; as a garden designer and architect; Bampfylde by the sea; as an artist; and Bampfylde the Georgian socialite.
This archival exhibition will open to the public on 1st March and run for a year in conjunction with several other contemporary exhibitions and many events exploring the fascinating life of this influential person as part of Bampfylde 300. This exhibition is open from 1st March 2020 until February 2021.
Canadian artist Kelly Richardson is one of the leading representatives of a new generation of artists who is known for her stunning large-scale video installations of hyper-real landscapes. Combining the real and the imagined to visually arresting effect, she starts by filming real landscapes and then uses digital technology to distort and change them. Though her work lends itself to multiple interpretations, every work displays a delicate balance between the beautiful and the uneasy.
Charlotte Hodes’ work profiles her long-standing engagement with the boundaries between the fine and decorative arts. Hodes draws on craft processes, but uses these to create imagery firmly situated within the language of fine art, bringing her considerable experience as a painter to both her extraordinarily intricate papercuts and her large-scale installations in which ceramic ware serves as her alternative canvas. Unafraid to disrupt and deconstruct, Hodes deploys collage to challenge accepted hierarchical distinctions in art history.
Rebecca Partridge’s paintings explore the boundaries between the subjective world and the external environment, resonances between body and landscape. Often reflecting her interest in synaesthesia, Rebecca’s work explores basic perceptual experiences. Whereas the photograph captures one moment in time, the quiet attitude of Partridge’s practice emphasises the temporal process of painting, encouraging slow reflection.
Somerset based artist Fiona Hingston is steeped in her local landscape. For the past two decades she has recorded her locale through drawing, photography, found objects and book works. She sees her practice as a slow archaeological enquiry into place and the passage of time. Over this period her observations have become disrupted by the growing awareness of quiet erosion: silent barns, decaying farm building, monoculture crops and vanishing flora and fauna. She sees this local loss as directly connecting to global environmental issues.
Hestercombe Gallery was established in 2014 and boasts seven reclaimed spaces and a residency studio on the first floor of Hestercombe House. The House, also the home of the Hestercombe archive, is surrounded by Hestercombe Gardens, a unique site of garden heritage now known to span over four centuries. Together the site attracts over 100,000 visitors a year and is managed by Hestercombe Gardens Trust. The organisations mission is to build on the heritage of innovation, culture, creativity and green care, and to develop public spaces to generate opportunities for all.
Supported by Arts Council England and Hestercombe Gallery.
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