• 42 exhibitions • 26 artist residencies • 28,000 learning program participants • 850 educational institutions • 2,000 public events
Occupying a former farmstead in Bruton, the rural art center has delivered an innovative program of exhibitions, events, learning activities and artists’ residencies over the past eight years. The groundbreaking model has led the way for further art centers in Downtown Los Angeles and Menorca, uniting art, learning, sustainability, food, community and conservation.
‘When we opened Hauser & Wirth Somerset we could not have anticipated the overwhelming response we would receive. I am very proud of this incredible achievement and it has only been possible first of all by our artists, the team and the support of the local community. Somerset is a very special place and has become a role model for how we have continued to challenge conventions, maintaining a focus on learning and broadening access to great art and artists globally.’—Manuela Wirth, Hauser & Wirth Co-President
Hauser & Wirth Somerset has hosted critically acclaimed exhibitions spanning contemporary artists and modern masters, including Phyllida Barlow CBE RA, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Eduardo Chillida, Jenny Holzer and Henry Moore. The exhibition program has provided increased visibility and engagement with influential bodies of artwork outside of city centers, focusing on first-hand experience that invites a dialogue between art, artists and visitors.
In 2019, the gallery presented a personal collection of works from the Ursula Hauser Collection, focused entirely on female artists over the past four decades, curated by Manuela Wirth and Laura Bechter. In addition, the gallery has worked with external curators that are deeply influenced by the landscape and history of Somerset to bring together ambitious group exhibitions. These have included: ‘LAND MARKS: Structures for a Poetic Universe’ curated by Nicholas Olsberg and Markus Lähteenmäki and ‘The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind,’ a survey exhibition curated by Adam Sutherland.
William Cook for The Spectator comments, ‘Right from the start, it felt like a novel experience. These tastefully converted farm buildings showcase some of the biggest names in contemporary art, and it will not cost you a penny to see them. However the art is only half the story... It is not just a gallery, it is a Gesamtkunstwerk—a total, integrated work of art that satisfies all the senses.’
Central to the vision of Hauser & Wirth Somerset has been the development of significant active learning programs, which have engaged with over 28,000 participants. Exhibitions are accompanied by artist-led interactive workshops, family activities, teachers’ private views and film screenings, that allow more people to feel connected to artists and their work.
Moreover, Hauser & Wirth Somerset’s strong relationships with many local schools, universities and institutions have led to unique learning initiatives, such as the Architectural Drawing Summer School with Drawing Matter and Kingston University, and an Education Lab with Arts University Bournemouth and the Henry Moore Foundation. Throughout the community events program, the gallery works closely with regional and national organizations including: Bristol Old Vic Theatre, Creative Youth Network, The Big Draw, Prince’s Trust and Family Arts Campaign.
‘Hauser & Wirth has been more than a contemporary art gallery or artistic space. It is a treasured community of creative and inspirational art educators and researchers.’—Samantha Davies, Graduate Student, Bath Spa University
Since its inception in 2013, the artist-in-residence program has seen international Hauser & Wirth artists spend extended periods of time in Bruton, expanding the boundaries of their practice and immersing themselves in Somerset life. Previous participating artists have included: Rita Ackermann, Martin Creed, Rashid Johnson, Thomas J Price, Bharti Kher, Pipilotti Rist, Henry Taylor and Christina Quarles, with London-based artist Allison Katz due to start a residency in January 2023.
Through generous visitor donations, the gallery has been able to raise over £160,000 to help support charitable organizations that are delivering vital social, health and cultural initiatives in the surrounding area. In addition to visitor fundraising, the gallery has donated over £800,000 to organizations and community projects in and around Somerset. Current and previous partners include: Bruton Food Drop, The Balsam Centre, Black Swan Arts, Bruton Primary School PSA, Carymoor Environmental Trust, Brue CREW, Bruton Museum and Somerset Wildlife Trust.
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