Meet Sherborne's movers and shakers
PUBLISHED: 10:39 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:39 16 October 2018
From festival director to an internationally acclaimed artist, meet some of the remarkable people working behind the scenes to enhance what historic Sherborne has to offer
Emma Morris: Director of The Paddock Project
Emma is the newly appointed director of The Paddock Project - an initiative headed up by Sherborne Community Arts Centre Trust and funded by an anonymous benefactor who is donating around £4 million. The aim is to establish a world class visual arts venue, on a site behind the town’s Paddock Gardens, which will raise the profile of Sherborne as a tourist destination and significantly contributing to the economy of the town.
“Learning and participation will be at the heart of everything we do,” said Emma, who was Executive Director of Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne. “We will deliver a year round programme of courses, workshops, films, talks and discussions for communities of all ages and from all backgrounds. Our ambition is for the gallery to be the social hub of the town.”
Emma is struck by how many great artists, crafts people and designers there are in the region. She was also bowled over by the warm welcome she has got locally. “As soon as I walked into The Three Wishes on Cheap Street and sampled its delicious club sandwich, I knew that Charlie (her beloved Jack Russell) and I would love the area we have moved to.”
Having found a “sweet little house” close to Sherborne, Emma regards herself as “proper rural” and enjoys long country walks with Charlie. “I feel very lucky to be director of such an exciting transformational project in a very beautiful part of Dorset.”
André Durand: Artist
Another “newbie” to Sherborne is the contemporary artist André Durand. Never having visited Dorset before, the countryside was a revelation. Inspired by this his latest exhibition, at The Grain Gallery in South Street (thegraingallery.co.uk) and The Eastbury Hotel in Long Street (theeastburyhotel.co.uk), takes timeless Christian and Pagan myths and places them in well-known Dorset locations.
Durand said he was drawn to the area last summer when Jane Still, a local vicar’s wife, told him about the crop circle at Cerne Abbas. “I dedicated one Sunday to researching Dorset saints with the Vicar of Cerne Abbas, the erudite Jonathan Still. I wanted to paint four Dorset saints, perhaps five, in the lower foreground of my painting ‘Ascension at St Aldhelm’s Chapel’.”
Durand visited the Norman chapel, situated on St Aldhelm’s Head in Worth Matravers, on a foggy day. “The veiled light made the chapel even more mystical, if such a thing could be possible. It turns out I am spoilt for choice. Inspirational saints abound in Dorset.”
Cerne appears in several of Durand’s Dorset paintings, with the playful ‘L’Apres-Midi D’Un Faune at Barton Mead’ inspired by Debussy’s music and the Nijinsky ballet of the same name. The famous Cerne Abbas Giant and its ancient alignment with the constellation of Orion, together with the mysterious presence of the Cerne Abbas crop circle, also figures prominently in Durand’s ‘Diana of the Cerne Giant and Orion’.
He chose to paint both this and his highly praised painting of Diana, entitled ‘To the Chase’ in the church of St James the Great, Longburton in July last year.
A stone’s throw from Longburton, Sherborne’s medieval Almshouses in the depths of winter provides the setting for ‘The Prodigal Son’. With its depiction of Pope Francis embracing his prodigal son in the snow, the striking image could be seen as symbolic of the ecumenical reunion of two churches: Catholic and Protestant.
Durand continues to be inspired by Dorset and has many more ideas for paintings that he plans to pursue during his time in Sherborne.
Brent Mitchell: Founder of Events Crew
Born and raised in Sherborne, Brent’s interest in events started when he was a youngster DJ-ing at local events and organising the Sherborne Youth Club fireworks. After A levels, Brent did an engineering degree at Manchester where he organised student union events. His subsequent career at Balfour Beatty saw him working on engineering projects across the world, and yet he still kept up his “hobby” of event organisation.
In 2003, having won the contract to stage Iron Man UK in Sherborne, he established Events Crew as a business alongside his job at Balfour Beatty, who supported him throughout which allowed him to bring various skill sets to benefit the business. In 2011 he went full time at Events Crew.
He and his team are not only in charge of Sherborne Castle’s Firework Extravaganza (3 November) a ‘not-for-profit’ event which donates in the region of £10,000 to local charities, but they have also taken on Pack Monday Fair, Sherborne’s medieval street fair (15 October). “I have attended many Pack Monday Fair events over the years,” said Brent. “So I know we can re-energise the fair and give new life to this wonderful tradition.”
Find out more at eventscrew.com
Jules Bradburn: Director of Sherborne Literary Festival
Although originally from “God’s Own County” of Yorkshire, Jules Bradburn says that Dorset compares very favourably indeed. And she is well placed to make that comparison having spent much of her life travelling the globe as well as running an events management company, The Eventurists. On top of this Jules also teaches law at Bournemouth Universit,y and yet somehow she has found the time to step into her new role as director of the Sherborne Literary Festival. And she promised that this year’s event really does have something for everyone.
Jules, who has lived in the heart of Sherborne for the last five years, says the town has a great sense of community. She recalled an example from earlier in the year when people and businesses were snowed in. “Everyone instantly rose to the challenge, the boys who run the local chippie popped round to make sure everyone had something to eat , and all of us were keen to help those businesses that had opened but were short staffed.” Jules found herself helping Jane Wood wash the dishes at Oliver’s. Pitching in comes naturally, through her Greek husband Jules has seen the importance his culture places on community and she is determined to apply those same values in her work for the town, especially in her role as Vice Chair of Sherborne Chamber of Commerce. sherborneliterarysociety.com/festival
Jane Wood: Chair of Sherborne Chamber of Commerce
Jane Wood is owner of the iconic Oliver’s Coffee House on Sherborne’s Cheap Street and the new Chair of Sherborne Chamber of Commerce. Sherborne born and bred, Jane read maths at Bath University and then went travelling before working in logistics for Philips Electronics in Guildford “shifting televisions.”
However, having had summer jobs at the award-winning Summer Lodge in Evershot and at her cousin’s wine bar Wood’s in Yeovil, she secretly longed to work in hospitality. So, when Oliver’s Coffee Shop came on the market seven years ago, Jane leapt at the chance to return home. “It was the obvious choice really,” she said. “I could come back to this lovely town and run an independent coffee shop that specialises in delicious cakes and pastries and work in a profession I love.”
It’s the amazing mix of independent businesses in Sherborne that Jane is particularly proud of, and she is keen to support this in her new role at the Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a little like being back in the corporate world and it allows me to do more networking with other businesses. We work together on initiatives like the much-loved Festive Shopping Day that brings so many people into the town to spend their money and enjoy the ambience of shopping in Sherborne.”