Art in the Wylye valley

NEARLY 20 years ago, artist Nick Andrew and a small group of fellow artists and makers in a beautiful corner of south west Wiltshire got together to set up an art trail. This year marks a significant milestone, the tenth Wylye Valley Art Trail, running for an extended ten days from Saturday 18th to Monday 27th May.

Nick, whose studio is at Bull Mill, Crockerton, where he works with his partner, painter Tanya Hinton, recalls how the project started: “I’d long recognised the need for a framework for visual artists and makers living and working in this area to bring their work to a local and wider audience.

“So, following much research, funding applications, endless meetings and planning, our small organising team brought the first Wylye Valley Art Trail into being in May 2001.”

A key aspect of the success of that first event was the striking design of the guide-map, created by Jane Humprhies, who designed the subsequent guide-maps for the 2003 and 2005 trails.

The first WVAT brought together 80 artists and makers in 34 venues, and the response from visitors was amazing. Of the original participants, there are ten who have taken part in every trail, and they are marked with a gold star in the 2019 trail brochure. As well as Nick Andrew, they are: Pepe Argo, jeweller, Hindon; Pat Armstrong and the Look and See Group, painter and art group, Kingston Deverill; Julie Ayton, ceramicist, Hindon; Matthew Burt, furniture maker, Hindon; Olivia Clifton-Bligh, sculptor and printmaker, Crockerton; Ruth Dresman, glass artist; Hindon; David O’Connor, sculptor and painter., Heytesbury; Joanna Sims, painter, Crockerton; Hilary Turnbull, painter, Mere.

The aim from the start, says Nick, was to be inclusive, non-selective, artist-run “and embracing the work of long-established artists and makers s well as those just starting out on their creative journeys.”

Looking back, Nick and the original team, and the current co-ordinator Laura Rich should all be very proud of what they have achieved. Wylye Valley Art Trail has grown – there are more than 390 artists and makers at 87 venues this year – but it has remained true to its ethos.

So pick up one of the colourful brochures (with one of Nick’s paintings on the cover), get a map of the area (or trust to your satnav if you prefer) and head out into this peaceful corner of Wiltshire for some exciting artistic adventures. You won’t be disappointed.

Pictured: Salea, acrylic on canvas, by Nick Andrew; Pewsey Vale, acrylic on canvas, by David O’Connor; radial bowls by Julie Ayton;  bow-fronted pyramidalised chest of draws, ash, by Matthew Burt; Gretta, oil on wood, by Tanya Hinton.

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