Somerset Art Works have joined forces with Black Swan Arts in Frome, Somerset for a unique SAW Members' exhibition and the first at Black Swan Arts since last year's coronavirus lockdown. 'In Pursuit of Spring' has been inspired by poet Edward Thomas' account of his journey by bicycle between London and Somerset to meet the arrival of spring in 1913.
Responding to various themes in Thomas' book, In Pursuit of Spring, such as hope, change and renewal, around 50 Somerset Art Works members have created artwork to illustrate the Somerset leg of Thomas' journey. He enters the county near Farleigh Hungerford and travels west through Norton St Philip, Shepton Mallet, Wells and Glastonbury, eventually arriving on Cothelstone Hill in the Quantocks on 28 March, as the storm clouds of the Great War gathered. Thomas was killed four years later at the Battle of Arras. The work will be displayed alongside excerpts from the book, which is published by Little Toller Books in Dorset.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the natural world has been an important consolation for many of us. Now, when we all need a sense of hope and renewal, Thomas' descriptions of springtime Somerset – the 'noble elms', verdant banks teaming with celandine, pennywort and cranesbill, the calls of larks and linnets – are a poignant reminder of the beauty of our county. This exhibition brings together Thomas' text with contemporary images and representations of Somerset, and is a wonderful way to celebrate the re-launch of Black Swan Arts – almost 108 years to the day since Thomas completed his journey.
Black Swan Arts will host a carefully curated online exhibition from the beginning of April, and all work will be for sale. If the COVID-19 roadmap goes to plan, the shop will reopen on 12 April, with a limited selection of artworks on show, and the full exhibition will open on 17 May.