Under new ownership: Urchfont Manor is Celebrating Art in the Garden
Until recently Urchfont Manor - a Grade 2* seventeenth century manor house - was owned by Wiltshire Council and run as a residential adult learning facility. As part of its austerity drive, the Council closed the adult learning centre and sold the building and its grounds.
A group of friends affiliated to the Wiltshire Gardens Trust used to work at the Manor as volunteer gardeners. In 2007 this informal group organised an exhibition, ‘Celebrating Art in the Garden,’ to mark its sixty years of adult learning.
From that small beginning a voluntary organisation ‘Friends of the Garden’ went on to develop a major programme of biennial sculpture exhibitions. When the Manor was sold the Friends looked to private gardens for their exhibitions most recently - in 2014 and 2016 - at West Lavington Manor.
In 2017 the Friends were delighted when the new owner at Urchfont agreed to the Friends holding their 2018 exhibition there - it opens on June 22. The Friends see it as being "...like a real homecoming. We have found it a wonderful challenge too!"
The five acre garden already had a fine selection of specimen trees, an old orchard and a walled garden. Currently it is being redesigned by the award winning practice del Buono Gazerwitz.
The intention is to create a garden that reflects the period of the house but with a twenty-first century twist. In the forthcoming exhibition over 100 figurative and abstract sculptures provide the finishing touches to a garden, parts of which now includes alcoves, viewpoints, a maze and reflecting pool - all wonderful settings for an artist’s work.
Four of the artists taking part, Patricia Volk, Dominic Clare, Jacquie Primrose and Tom Hiscocks live and work in Wiltshire. The other 18 come from much further afield and none have previously exhibited with the Friends of the Garden: "This stunning exhibition takes contemporary sculpture out of the gallery and into its proper setting."
A café and popup shop will also bed on site. The exhibition is open 22 June to 8 July - closed Mondays and Tuesdays. It is at Urchfont SN10 4RF, Wiltshire. Admission £5 For more info phone 01672 540180 or go to their website.