From my review in Pure Arts Group Journal :
Making time to reconnect and ground ourselves in the hectic world we live in is very important for many reasons, but it is essential if we are to protect our mental health, grow and develop and fulfil our dreams and aspirations.
For artists, residencies, courses, programmes, professional development and mentoring are all critical aspects of this jigsaw.
Over time I have realised the importance of connecting with my peers but also of giving myself time to reflect, recuperate and develop my skills. Clayhill Arts has provided a unique opportunity for all this at their 8 acre site set within 140 acres of arable farmland. The sensitively restored farm buildings near Bridgwater in Somerset initially opened in 2017 and the gardens have been designed to blend into the landscape. Whilst previously the surrounding land had been intensively farmed, the current tenant is working on more agroecology principles, investigating varieties of grain and several fields of herbal ley surround the buildings alongside wide field margins and mixed hedging. The windows frame stunning views with a 360° open skies atmosphere and plentiful wildlife in the surrounding countryside.
The accommodation is elegant, yet homely with each of the eight double rooms showing Deborah’s flair for interior decoration. There is a well stocked library, an exceptional kitchen and plenty of places to relax and make art. But best of all is the immediate access to the environment from the moment you step outside your room in the morning and watch a Buzzard take off from the nearest Oak Tree.
My first contact came with the Correspondence Collective "Restriction" exhibition (https://www.louisacrispinart.co.uk/more/restriction), curated by by Amanda Lynch during the Pandemic and hosted at Clayhill Arts through a variety of online events including the Clayhill Creative Forum (https://www.clayhillarts.co.uk/the-clayhill-creative-forum/). This led to a self-catered June solo residency in the immersive landscape professionally supported by owners Deborah and Michael, where I gently connected with other artists between long periods of walking the hedgerows, discovering the wildlife and replenishing my energy levels. Long Tailed Tits bouncing through the pines, Skylarks singing, Swallows and House Martins swirling above the fields. I was thrilled to see my first Hare and I lost count of the variety of insects. No deadlines, no expectations - you can read more about my stay here: https://www.louisacrispinart.co.uk/more/in-residence-clayhill-arts
I could not wait to return and the five day Drawing the Natural World course in September led by SWLA artists Chris Wallbank and Nik Pollard was the perfect opportunity to experience Clayhill Arts as an educational venue. The tutors made full use of the Clayhill surroundings and equipment, generously sharing their experiences and practices whilst challenging us to reach our potential both during the course and equipping us with tools for future development.
Deborah and Michael showed off their exemplary culinary skills with plentiful excellent homemade meals throughout the stay, enhanced by their own garden produce and knowledge of local suppliers. I wondered if the atmosphere at Clayhill Arts would be different with a mixed group of professional artists present but the owners set the standards by their quiet enquiring conversations and welcoming trust. The perfect environment for inspirational learning, connecting and rest.
I am watching the course list closely to determine my next adventure at Clayhill Arts.
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