Land Work by Paul Jones launches The Sherborne

IF you have been watching over the past few years the slow process of restoring and converting Sherborne House, the listed Georgian building in Newland, Sherborne, you can see the results from 1st March with the first exhibition, Land Work, new and recent paintings by the Dorset artist Paul Jones, open for booked visits until 6th April.

Sherborne House, which for many years was a school, has been sensitively brought back to life by Sherborne House Trust working with Dorset-based SPASE Architects and Stonewood Builders. The extensive restoration has received guidance from Historic England and other conservation and heritage groups, as well as support from the Friends of Sherborne House.

The Grade 1 listed Georgian building, now known as The Sherborne, is home to the nationally-important Thornhill Mural, which has also been restored. To complete the picture, there is a new pavilion which will host a variety of events, including film screenings. The terraced grounds and courtyard areas will feature sculpture as well as outdoor performances.

Dorset Visual Arts (DVA), the principal arts partner, has drawn up a programme of high profile exhibitions to run through 2024 featuring work by outstanding Dorset artists and makers. The plan is for the programme to expand and evolve through 2025 to include and attract work from further afield.

Paul Newman, DVA’s creative director, says: “Dorset Visual Arts are thrilled to be the lead arts partner for The Sherborne, and at the heart of a thriving Wessex arts scene. This provides a welcome platform for Dorset artists and makers, with a unique model for exhibiting and displaying work, alongside other cultural activity on site.”

The exhibition programme will celebrate and champion contemporary practice in the arts, says Paul Newman, as well as “providing a wealth of experiences for inquisitive audiences. As the programme builds, there will be education and workshop activity as well as talks, films, tours and other events to excite and engage – watch this space!”

Ancient sites, landscape and coastlines have been the source material for much of Paul Jones’s work. The quality of light, particularly in the chalk-laden earth of Dorset’s downlands is a constant and significant inspiration. Stones, rocks and the Dorset and Devon coastlines with their sweeping switchback scale, textures and shapes have all become absorbed into a visual vocabulary.

This inaugural exhibition is only viewable by booking limited spaces on one-hour tours on Fridays and Saturdays from 1st March – 6th April, ahead of a public launch and a new exhibition curated by Amanda Wallwork in late April. Visitors will also be able to see the Thornhill Mural and hear more details about the forthcoming programme.

Pictured: Lightwater, by Paul Jones.