ArtsFest Sculpture Trail: 2016 exhibits
PUBLISHED: 11:20 06 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:20 06 September 2016
John Calder, curator of the ArtsFest Sculpture Trail in Lyme Regis, takes us on a walk through this year’s exhibits
In the lead up to the galleried shows of their 14th annual ArtsFest in Lyme Regis (17 September-2 October) the town has seen three distinct sculpture trails gradually emerging over the summer months.
Now featuring over 30 sculptures from 14 West Country artists, the Sculpture Trail evolved over a four year period. Originally I used it to promote my own exhibitions placing land art in forgotten corners of the old town – having got permission from the land owner first. But when I joined the ArtsFest steering group I wanted to open this opportunity out to others and see if we could expand the idea. So last year, as an experiment, I curated the first ArtsFest Sculpture Trail with several local artists participating, and a handful of big-hearted local businesses providing the essential financial support.
This year I secured funding from the Arts Council, and also from Lyme Regis Town Council, and the number of commercial sponsors also increased. As a result, we have been able to attract an impressive range of artists from much further afield – so this year’s ArtsFest Sculpture Trail is going to be pretty special.
There are three very different trails to explore. Surprise is the main aim in the Parkland Trail where sculptures compete with crazy golf, woodland walks, undulating lawns and gorgeous views of our famous Cobb.
Sympathy with the location is tested to the extreme by the enormous canvasses presented by the East Cliff Trail. Here the magnificent views of Golden Cap and the Jurassic Coastline combine with the massive new sea defences, a wonderful cleft chestnut fence on the skyline, and (possibly) the biggest church porch in West Dorset. This dramatic backdrop hosts some impressive sculptures that would look too big almost anywhere else.
Secrets are there to be unlocked if you look closely around the Town Mill in the Artisan Trail. Some works are obvious, such as those outside the Malthouse Gallery, but many are hidden –in Drake’s Way, in the Miller’s Garden, in the Courtyard Café and along the riverside. So keep your eyes peeled for delightful sculptural surprises.
Sculpture Trail maps have been printed describing all the works, and several videos have been commissioned about the artists so you can discover what inspires their work. Watch these videos online at lymeregisartsfest.com/sculpture-trail.
The future of this exciting arts initiative and whether it becomes a permanent fixture of the ArtsFest, and beyond, now depends on the audience reaction. So, after you have explored our Sculpture Trail please do go online and respond to the survey and tell us what you think.
The future of public art in Lyme Regis may well depend on it!
Holmbush Car Park, on the Western approaches to the town, is ideally placed to take in the Parkland Trail. Walk down Cobb Road to the Lister and Langmoor Gardens where over a dozen sculptures have been carefully placed against the backdrop of the public garden with its spectacular views Some, like Greta Berlin’s ‘Lost Identity’ will confront you, but most are designed to simply delight you. Clare Trenchard’s ‘Trapeze’, soars majestically above your head, Michael Fairfax’s bronze ‘Ripple’ stands proud in splendid hedge-bound isolation while David Parker’s ‘Speaking Volumes’ shouts at you from within the wooded hillside.
East Cliff Trail
Charmouth Road Car Park, at the Eastern approaches to the town, is situated at the top of the East Cliff Trail. Take the steps down to the new sea defences and pick up the East Cliff Sculpture Trail which has five impressive pieces including ‘Silver Thread’ by Weymouth willow sculptor Caroline Sharp. This delicate organic structure, hangs from the rafters of the church porch. Caroline’s glorious ‘Silver Thread’ marks the end of the East Cliff Trail and from there you can move on to the Artisan Trail.
From the Woodmead Halls or the Broad Street Car Parks, in the town centre, you can approach the Artisan Trail, which centres on the Town Mill and features over a dozen sculptures. Take your time to explore the hidden delights of the Miller’s Garden, and don’t miss Isla Chaney’s ‘Scamper’ in Drake’s Way.
ArtFest Gallery Exhibitions - 17 September to 2 October
The climax of the Parklands Trail is a small gallery show, where sculptors will display 3D and 2D work. Meanwhile, back at the heart of the Artisan Trail, The Malthouse Gallery and the Courtyard Gallery will house new work on the theme of IDENTITY from around 40 additional local artists. For full details of all the many exciting events happening at this year’s Artfest go to lymeregisartsfest.com.