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Hestercombe has always had a place at the leading edge of creativity.

The beautiful gardens, ground-breaking in their time, were designed by individuals who were artists as well as gardeners, from Bampfylde who employed the artists’ technique of borrowed views in the landscape to Jekyll and Lutyens with their inspired mix of architecture and planting design in the formal gardens. Now the next great creative step is being made at Hestercombe.

Thanks to funding from Arts Council England and others a year long programme of arts activity is underway, kicking off in late spring with Hestercombe’s first art exhibition in Hestercombe House. Open from 24th May ‘Leaping the Fence’ will celebrate contemporary art created over the last 25 years and will feature works from ground breaking artists such as Tracey Emin, Mark Wallinger, Mark Quinn, Mike Nelson and Susan Philipsz among others, many of them Turner Prize winners and nominees. It will cover diverse art forms ranging from sound, light and film works, to sculpture and digital works on paper. Exploring themes such as the human relationship to landscape and gardens and broader socio-political ideas the show will provide a unique opportunity to engage with thought provoking pieces rarely seen in the South West.

This new artistic venture has been made possible since the reuniting of Hestercombe House with the rest of the estate after 60 years of the former being under local authority control. Sensitive restoration work has created a gallery made up of simple spaces, stripped to reveal their architectural heritage, creating a neutral but elegant backdrop for the exhibition pieces.

‘The last 20 years at Hestercombe have involved thousands of hours of work to uncover the almost lost, astonishingly beautiful, creative landscape. With this work all but complete we’re thrilled to be stepping forward and making this new exploration of art and beauty. Our long term intention is to create a stimulating and relevant gallery space for the South West and to provide an environment where new works can also be made; ultimately creating a future as exciting and inspiring as our past’ says Chief Executive of the Hestercombe Gardens Trust, Philip White MBE.

In addition, art is already in the making at Hestercombe as artist in residence, Jo Lathwood gets to work on pieces inspired by the beautiful setting of the estate. Visitors can watch her at work in her studio adjacent to the new gallery.

It promises to be a challenging and exciting year for the Hestercombe Gardens Trust charity as it makes its mark on the art world in the South West with the opening of the new gallery and ‘Leaping the Fence’ its first exhibition. A second exhibition will follow in October.