Here at Artizan it goes without saying that we love art, so much so that even on our days off we feel compelled to find somewhere to go to get our daily art fix! With breaks in the schedule few and far between though, we unfortunately miss out on the opportunity to see some wonderful exhibitions. We were determined that the SWAc Annual Open was not going to be one of these and it just so happened that the one window we had to get over to Exeter fell on the last day of the show. It also, rather fortunately coincided with a visit from long serving gallery intern Frances who was back in the bay. So, on the morning of the 25th we hopped on a train and were soon Exeter bound!
This year’s venue was Exeter Castle, a prestigious location set in the lovely Northernhay Gardens, a mere two-minute walk from the Central Station. A difficult venue to miss… you’d think. Disembarking the train, we exited into the town centre and, deep in conversation having not seen each other for a while, we began to make our way to the exhibition. After a festive 15-minute walk, taking in Princesshay’s Charity Christmas Tree Festival, we arrived…at Castle Gallery! Whoops, well at least we’d enjoyed all the Christmas trees!
Take two! Retracing our steps, we made our way back towards Northernhay and this time found Exeter Castle. You might have guessed that this was our first visit and we were immediately impressed by the site. The Castle itself has stood on this site in some form or other since 1068, with a previous structure being destroyed there in 1003. Now, there are very few remains of the very early buildings within the walls and viewed from outside the majority of its towers and battlements are hidden by the foliage of the Gardens. From inside the central courtyard though, the formidable fortifications can still be clearly seen.
Inside, the Castle is a fantastic venue to show art, and with work displayed across three spaces there was plenty for us to explore. The South West Academy is a registered charity dedicated to advancing the creation and appreciation of art in the South West and have an annual calendar of exhibitions and events that take place across the region. They have been coming to the Castle for four years now and their Chair Phil Creek told us that they had been overwhelmed with applications to be part of the show this year, making the selection process extremely tough. Hard work that undoubtedly paid off though; the resulting exhibition is a show full of originality, rich, diverse and visually captivating! We were delighted to see several artists that we knew, a handful of whom having exhibited with us previously and some who are set to join us at Artizan in 2018. Impossible to pick a favourite but that is what visitors are invited to do when they first arrive. We left having been unable to narrow it down but with cultural appetites thoroughly satisfied. Another great year for SWAc!