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  1. 1. Interviews Louise Parker Nick Rees Angus Stirling Julia Copus Geoffrey & Catherine Bass Taunton Literary Festival Programme Calendar of Events Somerset Art Works Binham Grange Art Exhibition Importance of Being Earnest Quartz Festival Illumina Short Story Free July-Sep 2012 Shining a light on literature, art, music and performance in Taunton & West Somerset The Literary Festival Comes To Town!
  2. 2. Each one of our sofas is unique. Unless you want two of them. Create your sofa your way... Made in Britain Taunton store 151-152 East Reach, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 3HN Tel:01823 282144 Call in and get comfortable in over 55 local stores Visit us at Call for a brochure 0800 0407 171
  3. 3. Contents We have been delighted by the positive response the first issue of the LAMP magazine has received and welcome you to the second issue for August/September, increased from 40 to 48 pages. It includes the full programme of the second Taunton Literary Festival, which takes place between 22-30 September. 05 Introduction by Jeremy Harvey 06 Louis Parker: Jazz Singer 10 The Fourth Binham Grange Summer Art Exhibition 14 The Importance of Being Earnest 17 Taunton Literary Festival Programme 27 Calendar of Events 32 Somerset Art Works 33 A Potters Life: Nick Rees & John Leach 34 Artists Angus & Kitty Stirling 36 Quartz Festival 38 Julia Copus: Poet 40 Early Blackdowns Music 42 Illumina at Hestercombe Gardens 44 Short Story: Anthony Howcroft Lionel Ward Editor: Lionel Ward Copy Editor: Jo Ward Advertising: Clair Bennett Events Compiler: Julie Munckton All enquiries: 01823 337742 c/o Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton The views expressed in Lamp are not necessarily those of the editorial team. Copyright, unless otherwise stated, is that of the magazine or the individual authors. We do not accept liability for the content or accuracy of the magazine including that of the advertisers.
  4. 4. OPEN DAY B E PA RT O F T H E E X P E R I E N C E Saturday 6th October —10 am arrival Please call us to reserve your place. Co-educational day boarding: ages 13 –18 telephone: 01823 328204
  5. 5. Dear Reader Taunton is a good place in which to live. Three reasons, among many, are the excellent service at Brendon Books, the Literary Festival, and the support LAMP is giving to the arts. Lionel Ward acquired his bookshop in February, 1989. He ran our first Literary Festival in 2011. By then he saw the need for a magazine to cover the arts in depth, available to anyone. He knew there were lots of good things happening in and around Taunton but that the coverage of them was ‘severely lacking’. To test his hunch he looked at costs, conducted some interviews, realised he had good material, and received encouraging feedback. And so LAMP was published this May. Since when he has been amazed by the ‘positive comments’ he has received, indeed overwhelmed by them. He sees his bookshop, the festival and the magazine as linked in a natural way, each helping the others. His success has motivated him to bring out further copies of LAMP, his huge initial input having proved very rewarding. LAMP will continue if he receives enough advertising support. Secondly, he needs you and me to call in and pick up a batch of this edition to distribute among our friends, neighbours and organisations in order that the magazine may be distibuted as widely as possible. Thank you, Lionel, and many congratulations. I look forward to reading this new number. Jeremy Harvey Chairman of the Somerset Art Gallery Trust (SAGT)
  6. 6. Feeling Good: Louise Parker Growing up in a musical family and being named after Louis Armstrong all helped to shape talented singer Louise Parker’s future jazz career. She is looking forward to her forthcoming performance at Ilminster Arts Centre in August. Having a father in the army meant the young Louise was constantly on the move, growing up mostly in Germany, but also different parts of the UK, and even a stint in the Far East. ‘So I don’t have any roots anywhere’, she says, quickly adding, ‘my roots are now firmly in Devon.’ It was during a cycling holiday to Devon and Cornwall that she fell in love with the West Country, finding the beauty of the region and the friendly people particularly appealing. She had been living in London for two years, where she had been training in Hackney to be a midwife. She describes how returning from holiday to London was ‘a shock to the system’ and decided it was time for a change. In 1988 she moved to Plymouth, taking up a post at Freedom Fields Hospital-and hasn’t looked back since! Louise Parker in performance Both Louise’s parents were music lovers, with an extensive and wide ranging collection of records. While her mother enjoyed listening to folk, calypso and opera, it was her father in particular who was an avid jazz fan, playing records by artists from Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke through to [John] Coltrane and [Charlie] Parker. ‘As a child he would sit me down and we would listen to music together’ Louise fondly recalls. ‘He was always keen to point out virtuoso solos, inventive arrangements or beautiful melodies. His sense of rapture and enthusiasm was infectious and I learned how music can transport you - make you laugh and cry, and all other emotions in between.’ Her mother grew up in Jamaica and as a child sang in the choir at her local Baptist church. ‘She used to sing at home all the time’, remembers Louise, ‘and has an absolutely beautiful soprano voice, but was always too shy to sing in public.’ Her father on the other hand would sometimes sit in to sing with jazz bands, including Kenny Ball’s Jazz Men (singing Dr Jazz). As a teenager Louise discovered Billie Holiday, and subsequently became completely obsessed with her and music in general, but unlike her idol never thought to do it herself until she reached her late thirties. Over the past decade her own vocal talents have earned her a great reputation in the jazz world, and she has enjoyed performing with (among many others) the likes of BBC Jazz Award winners Alan Barnes and Craig Milverton, as well as the late great Humphrey Lyttelton who regarded Louise as his favourite singer and described her as “a splendid new voice on the block” with a sound that “swings like fury”. Indeed, Louise Parker became a regular performer on Humph’s Best of Jazz - the BBC Radio 2 show he presented from 1968 until shortly before his death in 2008, and recorded with him on his last CD Cornucopia 3. Her debut album, Don’t Explain was recorded live in 2004 and gives a wonderful insight into her abilities, doing justice to covers such as the Newley/ Bricusse-penned Feeling Good- a song
  7. 7. first performed by Cy Grant, but which Nina Simone made her own on her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You, plus Gershwin’s classic Summertime, and other jazz standards such as You Go To My Head, Afro Blue, and a nod to Billie Holiday in the album’s title track Don’t Explain. A powerful live performer, Louise has become a big hit on the festival circuit, wowing audiences at Glastonbury, Port lie Holiday’ she says when asked what the audience can expect from her forthcoming show at Ilminster Arts Centre, ‘but I will be doing some other stuff as well...I mostly do jazz and blues standards, with one or two reggae influenced tunes and a couple of gospel numbers.’ She will be joined on the night by The Craig Milverton Trio, with whom Louise has just recorded a live album. ‘We’ve Louise Parker with Humphrey Lyttelton Eliot and the Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival with her skilful interpretations of various musical styles, incorporating swing, blues and gospel classics in her repertoire. She has a warm, bluesy gospel sound to her voice that captures the passion and spirit of some of the great jazz divas, not least her early inspiration Billie Holiday, ‘I’ve been asked to do some numbers from my tribute to Bil- been playing together for five or six years now...we know how each other operates but there are still surprises!’ Craig Milverton also played piano on her second album No More Strangers which was highly praised by Humphrey Lyttelton on his Best of Jazz radio show, and who described Craig as “someone who’s given Louise much encouragement, and should feel well rewarded by this hugely impressive self-produced album.” Louise says she is looking forward to play Ilminster Arts Centre once again, having received a warm and enthusiastic reception when she last played there 2 years ago. No doubt the venue is pleased to welcome her back, as with a number of new projects lined up, Louise is most certainly in demand. ‘At the moment I am summoning up the courage to learn some Nina Simone material’ explains Louise of her being booked to do a tribute concert at Cornwall’s Calstock Chapel in March next year. She has also recently joined an African-influenced band, with original music written by the band leader Pete Scott, which she describes as being ‘very up-tempo and good to dance to’, and is considering starting up a funk band, adding ‘I am also the lead soloist in a local gospel choir - phew! - now I know why I’m never in!’ There are a number of musicians she would like to work with given the chance, among them Christian McBride, Monty Alexander, Gareth Williams, Dave Green, Joe Sample, Buena Vista Social Club and Herbie Hancock. ‘Be patient. Learn your skill by doing as many gigs as you can get in the book’ is her advice to upcoming young performers just starting their careers in music, ‘listen to music as much as you can. The audience might not listen to you. Don’t worry about it, one day they will. A lot of the time, being a musician is not glamorous - it’s hard work. Most importantly, keep going and never lose the joy’. By Sara Loveridge Hear Louise perform on Friday 3rd August Ilminster Arts Centre at The Meeting House, East Street, Ilminster. TA19 0AN. At 8pm. Tickets: £12. Pre-Show Supper £9.50 (at 7pm). Box Office: 01460 54973. Website:
  8. 8. ALLETSONS SOLICITORS FAMILY L AW CARE CASES ∙ COLL ABOR ATIVE L AW DIVORCE CRIME ∙ CONVEYANCING ∙ HOUSING ∙ WILLS PROBATE FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION BRIDGWATER 01278 456 621 8 Castle Street ∙ Bridgwater ∙ Somerset ∙ TA6 3DB W W W.ALLETSONS.CO.UK Something not quite right?... SING FOR FUN with Company Of Voices Piles or period pain, acne or eczema, hayfever or halitosis - they may not threaten your life, but they can make it a misery. Taunton Community Choir Company of Voices welcoms new members whether colmplete beginners or experienced singers, male or female. Harmony songs from around the world are all taught by choir leader Claire Anstee - so there are no auditions and members don;t need ot read music. We are part of the ‘natural Voice Network’ and we occasionally perform to raise funds for water aid. We sing at ‘Dunster by Candlelight’ and we’ve performed at various events in Taunton, in Bridgwater Arts Centre, and we join other community choirs from the whole region each year for The Big Sing’in Bristol. however, there is no pressue on members to perform and sessions are always relaxed, friendly and fun. Homeopathic medicine takes a different approach. Why don’t you? Call Ruth Hermolle, registered homeopath: 01823 252191 or 01823 338968 Our next term starts on Thursday 13 September, at 7.30pm at Holway Park Community Primary School, TAunton For more details email: phone: 01278 741184 Clinics in Taunton and Wellington or visit our website: www.companyof
  9. 9. The Fourth Binham Grange Summer Art Exhibition The Binham Grange Summer Art Exhibition is now firmly established as part of the August calendar. Melanie Deegan looks back at its origins and development and looks forward to this years exhibition. During a casual conversation at a West Somerset business development meeting in March 2009 the seeds for what would become Gallery 4 Art were sown. Jim Munnion (painter and printmaker), Melanie Deegan (sculptor) and a number of others interested in art were discussing the lack of suitable venues for group art exhibitions in the area. One of the group who had recently dined at Binham Grange suggested approaching the venue with a view to using their barn to hold an exhibition. A meeting was soon arranged and Marie Thomas of Binham Grange was keen to give the idea a go. Binham Grange is a unique Jacobean The Seahorse in the Garden Historic Binham Grange, mentioned in the 13th century in association with Cleeve Abbey house of great antiquity with an awardwinning restaurant surrounded by formal and informal gardens. Mentioned in the 13th century in association with Cleeve Abbey it is surrounded by 300 acres of beautiful Countryside. The first exhibition was booked for two weeks in August 2009. Working on a tight time frame and even tighter budget Jim and Melanie then sourced suitable artists to join the group. The prospect of turning a listed cob built barn into a gallery space raised some interesting challenges. The need to avoid any damage to the walls resulted in a slightly Heath Robinson hanging system attached to the rafters giving the artists some headaches handing work where the walls diverged from vertical, a frequent occurrence. For budgetary reasons Ikea products featured strongly in the lighting system and plinths were created from bales of straw. With hard work and improvisation the exhibition opened on Saturday 15th August featuring paintings and prints by Jim Munnion, Jan Tricker and Bea Hammond, sculpture by Melanie Deegan, jewellery by Penny Price, ceramic work by Lucy Brown, photographs by Andrew Hobbs and life size portraits by Bill Ley- shon. The whole event was such a success that it was booked again for the following year. Gallery 4 Art emerged as a title for the group when the need to develop a website for promoting future events required a suitable domain name. Inspired by the positive feedback from the first exhibition Jim and Melanie spent some time defining the approach that the group should take. Binham Grange had demonstrated the mutual benefits for everyone involved by working with a location that already had a visitor base and reputation for good food while providing space for an exhibition that would bring many new visitors to the venue. In the prevailing economic climate creating a model that would benefit everyone involved was seen as a key factor for the development of the group. Making art accessible was also important and by using spaces that are a not conventional art gallery it was hoped to encourage people to visit the exhibition as much because they were interested in the venue as in the art. Developing this approach the next exhibition was held in February 2010 at Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet followed by another successful summer exhibition
  10. 10. THE LYNDA COTTON GALLERY 46 Swain Street, Watchet. ANGUS STIRLING KITTY STIRLING         ‘COMMON GROUND’ An exhibition of work by Father Daughter. Monday 10th - Sunday 22nd September The Lynda Cotton Gallery 46 Swain Street, Watchet. TA23 0AG.      Open daily 10:00am - 5:30pm. (01984) 631814 11
  11. 11. at Binham Grange in August 2010. Each exhibition has added more to the identity and infrastructure for the group building on the collection of display panels, lighting systems, signage and catalogues for events. The membership has also grown and well over thirty artists have now exhibited with Gallery 4 Art. Another chance conversation resulted in the winter exhibition for 2011 being held at Blackmore Farm near Cannington, a 15th Century manor with great hall and chapel. The prospect of sitting beside large log fires in February made the venue particularly attractive for the artists. Again an interesting challenge as a gallery space with suits of armour and implements of destruction to work around. The farm shop café provided food for visitors who were often queued out of the door. Blackmore has now become a regular winter venue for the group and the exhibition for February 2013 is already booked. This year will be the fourth summer at Binham Grange. The exhibition will run for three weeks from 11th August until the 2nd September and is open every day from 10.30am to 5pm. There is plenty of parking and entry to the exhibition is free of charge. Artists work will be displayed the in the barns and gardens surrounding the house. The Grange Restaurant will be serving coffee, lunches and afternoon tea each day in the formal dinning room and on the garden terrace. Providing a vibrant and varied exhibition is important and artistic styles within the group vary considerably. The delicate, subtle, architectural Some of the artists exhibiting in the 2009 Binham Grange Summer Exhibition drawings of Rebecca Birtwhistle contrast with the dramatic, vibrant abstract paintings of Diane Burnell. Ceramic artists Lucy Brown and Renee Kilburn have very different styles. Renee’s work is detailed, tactile and oozing with colour while Lucy creates delicate, almost ghost-like lamps or quirky jugs and bowls. Photographer Andrew Hobbs produces observant, often black and white studies of local landscapes and people. Nic Wingate’s photography is often a very different high-speed sports shots in vivid colours, Nic also provides much of the printed signage for the group and a photographic record of exhibitions. Other regular exhibitors include Tracey Hatton whose drawings and paintings have a strong link to the local landscape. Alison Jacobs detailed images of animals with their plain coloured backgrounds sit well in the barns around Binham Grange. Jenny Barron, Leo Davey, Sara Dudman, Louise Waugh and Penny Elfick have also participated in previous exhibitions. The outdoor sculpture collection has featured work by Fiona Campbell, Tom Wood, Jay Davey, Sam Jeffs, Anthony Rogers, Kate Semple, and Chris Webb. Later in the year Gallery 4 Art will be participating in the Hilliers Autumn Festival, Romsey, Hampshire, a new venture for the group to explore opportunities outside the local area. The group have also been recently approached by Children’s Hospice South West about the possibility of participating the Art for Life event in Devon during September. Longer term Gallery 4 Art intend to explore other opportunities further afield and to investigate the possibilities for pop-up exhibitions. Binham Grange Summer Art Exhibition 11 August - 2 September 2012 10.30am to 5pm every day Binham Grange, Old Cleeve, nr Minehead, Somerset TA24 6HX The Fire
  12. 12. 13
  13. 13. A Trivial Comedy for Serious People The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) T he importance of Being Ernest was first performed on Valentine’s Day 1895 at St James’s Theatre, London, when Wilde was at the pinnacle of his success. It followed the success of Lady Windermer’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), and An Ideal Husband (also 1895). It also marked the beginning of his downfall. Wilde sued The Marquess of Queensberry for comments he had made about him as a result of his relationship with his son. Though Wilde withdrew from the libel action, the activities of the defence in delving into his private life led to him being arrested, charged and convicted of gross indecency, resulting in his imprisonment. The negative publicity also meant that the play had a much shorter run than it would otherwise have had (though there were 83 perfomances). However, it remains his most popular play and has been successfully translated into several languages. Antecedents Both Oscar Wilde’s father and mother were writers. His father Sir William, was a noted ear and eye surgeon at a hospital in Dublin who also wrote books on biography, medicine, archaelogy and folklore. His mother, Jane, also wrote poetry under the name of ‘Speranza’ (hope in Italian) for the nationalist Young Irelanders and was the author of a critically aclaimed translation of The First Temptation by M. Schwab. They were not the most conventional of couples. It was not widely known that Sir William had three illegitimate children before his marriage to Jane, though this did not seem to be resented by her. The eldest of the children, named Henry Wilson, was born in 1838 and employed by Sir William in his hospital. The two girls, Emily and Mary (born in 1847 and 1849), and were adopted by his brother. They died in a bizarre accident when their crinolene dresses went up in flames while they were admiring them in front of an open fire. In later life, following the receipt of his knighthood, he was embroiled in controversy and a trial, foreshadowing his son’s trial some 30 years later. A patient of his, Mary Travers, claimed she had been seduced by him two years earlier. She circulated a pamplet parodying the Wilde’s and her supposed seduction under the influence of choloroform. When Lady Wilde complained to Mary Traver’s father, Mary brought a libel case against Lady Wilde. Sir William refused to take the stand. Mary Travers won the case but was only awarded a farthing in damages. Lady Wilde had to pay £2,000 in legal costs. Lady Wilde, ‘Speranza’ Sir William Wilde Scene from the original production at St James’s Theatre London between Algernon (Allan Aynesworth) Jack (George Alexander)
  14. 14. Set in the year 1912, with the Titanic sinking, mass production just beginning on the Morris Oxford and the Turkey Trot causing outrage across the dance floors of polite society, this tale of the strange contents of a handbag found at Victoria station has been subtly adapted to extract every drip of humour and contemporary relevance in this open air production by the Miracle Theatre which takes place in Vivary Park, Taunton. Finding there was very little theatre to speak of in Cornwall in the late seventies, Bill Scott got together a group of likeminded actors (Bill had studied drama at Birmingham University) and formed The Cornish Miracle Theatre. They put on their first production in the summer of 1979, The Beginning of the World or Origo Mundi, the first part of the Ordinalia or Cornish Miracle Plays. They adapted the play and gave it their own interpretation and were pleased with the response from the audience. It was intended as a one-off performance but they soon began to establish themselves with regular outdoor performances, putting on other classic plays, though usually adapted, for example, to suit a small cast of actors. They also began to perform original works, many of them written by Bill (and in which, in the early days, he acted). They toured English Heritage sights producing humorous interpretations of events in history (such as the Spanish Armada) accompanying medieval jousting tournaments and battles reenacted by The Sealed Knott. Looking back at their productions over 30 or more years, they have produced a breath-taking variety of repertoire and brought high quality theatre to outdoor venues across Cornwall and the South West. In addition to Miracle Plays, adaptions of Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Gogol and other classics and tongue-in-cheek histories, their productions have iincluded Georgian-style pantomimes, a Victorian music hall show about Dr Livingstone, a medieval farce (The Scapegoat), pieces of science fiction (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Time Machine and Cat’s Cradle) as well as the modern masterpieces of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Eugene Ionesco’s The Chairs. selves on a sound footing by attracting a big enough audience, he believes, does require investment in marketing in addition to energy and commitment for, ‘Only so much can be achieved by word of mouth.’ It was, therefore, with great relief as well as surprise that they were granted an arts council award six years ago. For the first time they were able to employ a Theatre Manager and a Communication Manager. Since then, Bill feels that their company has gone from strength to strength. They are now in the middle of their latest production, The Importance of Being Earnest, which comes to Taunton’s Vivary Park at the end of August. Though they have had their share of problems with the awful June weather they only had to cancel one performance on their tour - when they found the field in which they were due to perform was under two feet of water. The audiences and actors have soldiered on through the rain or sometimes they have been offered alternative indoor venues. They performed The Full Cast Finding sufficient funding, as ever in the world of the theatre, has sometimes been a challenge. In the early days they were grateful for what they could get. Recently, Bill donated some of their old material to a performing arts archive and discovered a letter from bygone years from a local garage agreeing to sponsor them for £25 and another from their local council - also offering £25 funding. He remembers these as ‘red letter days.’ Being able to develop the theatre and put them- for a whole week at the exposed Minack Theatre. However, despite the occasional weather problems they achieved near sell out audiences for all the performances. Now that the weather seems to be taking a kinder direction they look forward to another well attended performance in Vivary Park - for surely one of the funniest plays in the English language - perhaps in the dry or even in glorious sunshine. See The Importance of Being Earnest at Vivary Park, Taunton Friday 31 August - Saturday 1 September 2pm 7.30pm Tickets from The Brewhouse Theatre: Full £12 60+ £12 Conc. £8 Box Office: 01823 283244 Miracle at St Mawes 15
  15. 15. Creative Writing for Beginners The Victoria Rooms, Fore Street, Milverton,TA4 1JU A new course begins Thurs 20th Sept (1-3pm) This warm supportive class provides the opportunity for both new experienced writers to get pen to paper amass lots of fresh writing material, from which fiction or autobiographybased projects may be developed. Briony uses simple techniques designed to open the writer up to a world of tantalising images, ideas, memories, sensations associations. Via a variety of forms, from lists to letters, poetry to prose, monologue to dialogue, travel writing to dream writing, students will explore the nature of their own voices learn how to use them with confidence flare. A 10 week course costs £120. For more info bookings email or go to Briony Goffin teaches Creative Writing at Cardiff University, alongside facilitating courses workshops in the community. She has published widely on the art of teaching creative writing supporting the student writer to fulfil their creative potential. In May 2012 she was awarded ‘Inspirational Tutor of the Year’ by NIACE in Wales. Wood Street Community Choir All welcome! Wednesdays 7.30-9.15pm Northtown School, central Taunton Leader: Catherine Mowat • All kinds of songs – bop to pop, groove to gospel, float to folk, plus lots more! • Songs in luscious harmony, unaccompanied • Friendly and welcoming • Teaching mainly by ear • Term starts September 26th £5 /session or £45 for the 10 week term For further information: 01458 250655 or
  16. 16. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September 2012 Over the following pages you will find the full programme for the second Taunton Literary Festival organised by Brendon Books of Bath Place, Taunton There are more than 40 events spread over 9 days over a wide range of subject areas. We would particularly like to thank the participation of the following schools, colleges and local institutions who have provided the venues: The Castle Hotel, Hestercombe Gardens, Taunton School, Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre, Queen’s College, King’s College, Richard Huish College, The Brewhouse Theatre and Somerset County Museum. Many of the tickets for the daytime events at the schools are at a special student rate and we hope that students form schools other than the participating venues may be able to take advantage of this. We would also like to thank the Somerset Council and the Creative Industries Development Fund, Taunton Deane Borough Council and all businesses, local institutions and volunteers that give their support over the coming months. It would be marvellous if the festival could become an established part of the calendar and part of a vibrant cultural and artistic sector for the Taunton area. Each of the events typically lasts an hour with a talk and or/reading, questions followed by a signing. Directions and maps to the venues are available at the literary festival website at where tickets may also be ordered. Tickets are also available by personal visit, phone or by emailing Brendon Books except for the Brewhouse Theatre events or for the literary dining events at The Castle Hotel (see details on following pages). Venuesfor the 2012 Festival Saturday 22: The Castle Hotel Sunday 23: Hestercombe Gardens Monday 24 Taunton School Tuesday 25: Taccchi-Morris Arts Centre Wednesday 26: Queen’s College Thursday 27: King’s College Friday 28: Richard Huish College Saturday 29: The Brewhouse Theatre Sunday 30: Somerset Museum 17 Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER 01823 337742
  17. 17. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September Day 1, Saturday 22nd September The Castle Hotel, Castle Green, Taunton TA1 1NF See below for ticket options 11.00am Sir Roger Carrick: Diplomatic Anecdotage; Around the World in 40 Years There will be an opportunity at this event to have lunch at The Castle Hotel in the company of the author after the talk and signing. Talk followed by a 3 course lunch. Price £39.00 For this option please contact the Castle Hotel for tickets. 01823 272671 or Tickets for the talk only may be purchased from Brendon Books, price £6.50 From Bulgaria to Berkeley, Indonesia to Australia, Roger Carrick has travelled the world as an English diplomat. He was shadowed by the secret police in Sofia, witnessed the 1968 riots in Paris, befriended Shirley Temple at Stanford University and negotiated the withdrawal of British troops from Singapore. In between he rose to the heights of ambassador to Indonesia and High Commissioner to Australia. All in a day’s work for a distinguished diplomat. Diplomatic Anecdotage is a reflection on the ups and downs of diplomatic life. A fascinating insider’s view to diplomatic life - full of humour, wisdom and good sense about how to navigate our way through a dangerous world. Chris Patten. A diplomat’s life isn’t boring, at least Roger Carrick’s wasn’t. Amusing, informative and fun. Lord Carrington. 4.00pm Alexander Waugh. Alexander will be talking about his father, Auberon, with particular reference to a recent collection of his works, Kiss Me Chudleigh: The World According to Auberon Waugh which will be available at the talk. There will be an opportunity at this event to have tea in the company of the author after the talk and signing. Price £20.00. For this option please contact the Castle Hotel for tickets. 01823 272671 or Tickets for the talk only may be purchased from Brendon Books, price £6.50 Auberon Waugh has been compared to Jonathan Swift. He was an outrageous satirist who slaughtered whole herds of sacred cows and turned peoples heartfelt convictions on their heads. The best of his writing, collected in Kiss Me Chudleigh, is as timeless as Gulliver’s Travels and has much power to outrage as the day it was written. Auberon Waugh was a master of the art of going too far, but above all, he was very funny. Kiss Me, Chudleigh is a collection of Waugh’s best writing and is also a compact biography. 6.30pm Felix Francis: Bloodline There will be an opportunity at this event to have dinner in the company of the author after the talk and signing. Talk followed by a 3 course dinner. Price £49.00. For this option please contact the Castle Hotel, 01823 272671 or Tickets for the talk only may be purchased from Brendon Books, price £6.50 From Felix Francis, bestselling author of Gamble and co-author (with Dick Francis) of Even Money and Crossfire, comes Bloodline the latest Dick Francis novel. Set in the cut-throat world of horse racing, Bloodline is a thriller packed full of suspense, mystery and intrigue. When Mark Shillingford commentates on a race in which his twin sister Clare, an accomplished and successful jockey, comes in third, he can’t help but be suspicious. As a professional race-caller, he knows she should have won. Did she lose on purpose? Was the race fixed? Why on earth would she do something so out of character? That night, Mark confronts Clare with his suspicions, but she storms off after an explosive argument. It’s the last time Mark sees her alive. Hours later, Clare jumps to her death from the balcony of a London hotel ...or so it seems. Devastated by her death, and almost overcome with guilt, Mark goes in search of answers. Felix also has some interesting stories about his father. Tickets for Talks: Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER Tel. 01823 337742 or email:
  18. 18. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September Day 2, Sunday 23rd September Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton TA2 8LG 11.30am Rosemary Penfold: Posy of Wild Flowers Tickets: £6.50 Rosemary Penfold’s A Field Full of Butterflies was an evocative memoir of her life growing up in the fields of the English countryside. A moving testament to a forgotten world and a rapidly disappearing and often misunderstood people, Rosemary won the hearts of the nation with her story. In this, her second book, Rosemary returns to the idyllic countryside to continue her compelling story. Written in the same elegant narrative that has made Rosemary a much loved and admired storyteller, she paints a vivid and touching portrait of a way of life that no longer exists. 2.30pm An interview with Stephen Moss Tickets: £6.50 Stephen Moss is one of Britain’s leading nature writers, broadcasters and wildlife television producers. His programmes include Springwatch, Autumnwatch and The Nature of Britain. He has worked with David Attenborough, Bill Oddie, Alan Titchmarsh, Chris Packham, Kate Humble, Simon King, Charlie Dimmock and Michaela Strachan. He is the author of the ‘Birdwatch’ column in the Guardian and has written numerous books. His special areas of knowledge include birds and climate change; the social history of wildlife-watching; getting children back in touch with nature; and UK environmental issues. 4.00pm Duff Hart-Davis: Man of War Tickets: £6.50 The incredible life story of Captain Alan Hillgarth from the Sunday Times bestselling writer Duff Hart-Davis. Hillgarth was just 15 years old when he found himself aboard the HMS Bacchante as the First World War broke out. Within months he’d fought at Gallipoli, bayoneted an attacking Turkish soldier, and been shot in the head and leg. After the war, Hillgarth became an author of thrillers, a gold-hunter in South America, a diplomat and a spy-master. As British Consul in Majorca during the Spanish Civil War, from 1936 to 1939, he saved countless lives acting as mediator between the two sides. From 1940 to 1943 he was Britain’s most important intelligence officer in Spain, a key player in the successful Allied subterfuge Operation Mincemeat. Later he became Chief of Intelligence for the Eastern Fleet, in Ceylon, and a key advisor to Churchill, during and after the war. 6.00pm Graham Harvey: Quest For Real Food Tickets: £6.50 After a spell at university where he read agriculture Graham Harvey took a job as a reporter on Farmers Weekly. That’s when he started seeing the traditional mixed farm come under attack. In its place he believes we now have animal factories and prairie-style wheat, guzzling oil and constantly buffeted by global commodity markets. For the past 14 years he has been the Archer’s agricultural story editor, a sort of farm minister for Ambridge. But now he thinks it is time to get back to the real world. Modern high-input agriculture, he believes, is wrecking our health, our rural communities and our planet. In his view there’s only one answer; Britains forgotten treasure, family mixed farms. Real farms producing real food. 7.30pm Miriam Darlington: Otter Country Tickets: 6.50 Over the course of a year, Miriam Darlington travelled around Britain in search of wild otters; from her home in Devon to the wilds of Scotland; to Cumbria, Wales, Northumberland, Cornwall, Somerset and the River Lea; to her childhood home near the Ouse, the source of her watery obsession. Otter Country follows Darlington’s search through different landscapes, seasons, weather and light, as she tracks one of Britain’s most elusive animals. Written in mesmerising, magical prose, Otter Country establishes Darlington as a prominent voice in the new generation of British nature writers. Tickets for Talks: Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER Tel. 01823 337742 or email: or Hestercombe Gardens: 01823 413923 19
  19. 19. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September Day 3, Monday 24th September Taunton School, Staplegrove Rd, Taunton TA2 6AD 2.00pm Chris Ewan: Safe House Tickets: £6.50 Schools:£2.50 Chris Ewan’s most recent novel is Safe House (published by Faber Faber), a stand-alone thriller set on the Isle of Man. He is the award-winning author of four previous novels. In 2011, he was voted one of America’s favourite British authors by a Huffington Post poll. Born in Taunton in 1976, Chris attended Bishop Henderson Primary School, The Castle School and Richard Huish College before graduating from the University of Nottingham. He now lives on the Isle of Man with his wife Jo, where he writes full-time. 4.30pm Ally Kennen: Bullet Boys Tickets: £2.50 This is an electrifyingly dark teen thriller from the author of Beast and Quarry. Alex, Levi and Max follow the young soldiers from the local army camp on the moor. But harmless rivalry develops into something far more incendiary. When the boys discover a cache of buried weapons near the training grounds, deadly forces are brought into play. Ally reached no. 41 in the UK charts in 2001 with a song she wrote and sang and subsequently toured round the world. She lives in Somerset with her husband, her daughter and two sons, four chickens and a curmudgeonly cat. 6.00pm John Darwin: Unfinished Empire Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 John Darwin won the Wolfson History Prize for his book After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires. In Unfinished Empire he examines the enormous influence of the British Empire. It has shaped the world in countless ways: repopulating continents, carving out modern nations, imposing its own language, technology and values. For perhaps two centuries its existence, expansion and final collapse were the single largest determinant of historical events. 7.30pm Gervase Phinn: Trouble at the Little Village School Tickets: £6.50 Elisabeth Devine certainly rocked the boat when she arrived in Barton-in-the-Dale to take over as the head-teacher of the little primary school. Now it’s January, and after winning over the wary locals, she can finally settle in to her new role. Or so she thinks . . . For the school is hit by a brand-new bombshell: it’s to be merged with its arch rival, and Elisabeth has to fight for the new headship with Urebank’s ruthless and calculating headmaster. She has her work cut out for her. But add in some gossip and a helping of scandal, not to mention various newcomers bringing good things and bad to Barton, and that’s not the only trouble that’s brewing in the village. Tickets for Talks: Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER Tel. 01823 337742 or email:
  20. 20. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September Day 4, Tuesday 25th September Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre, School Rd, Monkton Heathfield, Taunton TA2 8PD 12.00 Ginny Baily, author of Africa Junction will talk on the subject of ‘The impossibility of getting to Timbuktu’ - how Africa, Mali in particular, inspired ‘Africa Junction’ Tickets: £6.50 Schools £2.50 Adele is in a mess. On her own with her young son, struggling to cope with her job as a teacher, and stuck in a disastrous affair - her life is unravelling. Her memories of idyllic years as a child in Senegal are fading, but she’s haunted by a vision of her childhood friend, Ellena. Africa is in her head. Ellena’s childhood in exile from brutal conflict in Liberia was far removed from the vibrant Senegal Adele remembers, and a careless, heartless act by Adele destroyed the girls’ friendship and jeopardised Ellena’s fragile family. Adele must return to Africa to try and make amends and 2.30pm Beth Webb: Star Dancer Series Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 It is 58 AD. As the Romans tighten their grip on Britain, so the tribes’ resistance increases. But lust for power knows no loyalty. A demon promises failed King Admidios untold wealth and glory in exchange for the soul of Tegen, the young ‘Star Dancer’ druid in training - Britain’s only hope. Unaware of this dark bargain, Tegen sets off to find Mona, the elusive Isle of the Druids, where she hopes to learn the magic that will defend her homeland. On the way, she meets Owein, another young druid who is not what he seems and knows far more than he is willing to tell - even to Tegen. Owein offers to take her to a Grand Council of druids and war leaders, where, he assures her, she will find a guide. But Admidios is also waiting there, poised with all his demonic powers. Then a murder by magic brings the British alliance tottering on the brink of disaster, and a black raven of ill-omen flies in the face of all Tegen holds dear. Her only hope is to dare to walk through the flames of Sacred Fire. 6.00pm Open Mic Session organised by John Stuart of the Fire River Poets. A kaleidoscope of poetry in an open mic session for local poets. Tickets: £5.00 Students: £2.00 The organisers do not know who will take part but we do know that many excellent poets live and work in and around Taunton so this should be a fascinating whirlwind of different styles and subjects. Poets who would like to take part in the open mic should book themselves their five minute slot in advance through John Stuart ( or 01823 352486). 8.00pm James Forrester (Ian Mortimer)Title of Talk: The Senses of Elizabethan England: an exploration of the audio and visual senses in Elizabethan England Based on the historical fiction books of James Forrester. Latest book: The Final Sacrament. Tickets: £8.00 James Forrester is the fiction-writing persona (the middle names) of the historian, Dr Ian J. F. Mortimer. As Ian Mortimer he has pioneered a number of new literary forms in history, from writing guidebooks for those ‘visiting’ the past (The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England) to a day-by-day account of a king over a particular year (1415: Henry V’s Year of Glory). Tickets for Talks: Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER Tel. 01823 337742 or email: or Tacchi Morris Arts Centre 01823 414141 21
  21. 21. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September Day 5, Wednesday 26th September Queen’s College, Trull Road, Taunton TA1 4QS 11.00am Keith Gibbs: The Resourceful Physics Teacher Tickets: £2.50 The aim of the talk is to show some fun and informative experiments that demonstrate some of the ideas in Physics. There will be between twenty and thirty experiments from spinning coat hangers and jellies to singing rods! The experiments are not only enjoyable but also all demonstrate an important piece of Physics. They form the basis of a collection of over seven hundred which appears in a new book The New Resourceful Physics Teacher. This teaching resource comprises 400 demonstration experiments and ideas for pupils in physics. The author, Keith Gibbs has drawn on 30 years experience of teaching physics to assemble these ideas. 2.00pm Patricia Ferguson: The Midwife’s Daughter Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 The new novel from Orange Prize listed author Patricia Ferguson. Violet, the Holy Terror, has delivered many of the town children - and often their children - in her capacity as handywoman. But Violet’s calling is dying out as, with medicine’s advances, the good old ways are no longer good enough. Grace, Violet’s adopted daughter, is a symbol of change herself. In the place where she has grown up and everyone knows her, she is accepted, though most of the locals never before saw a girl with skin that colour. For Violet and Grace the coming war will bring more upheaval into their lives: can they endure it, or will they, like so many, be swept aside by history’s tide? 4.30pm Helen Dunmore: Stormswept Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 Morveren lives with her parents and twin sister Jenna on an island off the coast of Cornwall. As Morveren and Jenna’s relationship shifts and changes, like driftwood on the tide, Morveren finds a beautiful teenage boy in a rock pool after a storm. Going to his rescue, she is shocked to see that he is not human but a Merboy. With Jenna refusing to face the truth, Morveren finds herself alone at the worst possible time. Because when the worlds of Air and Mer meet, the consequences can be terrible! Helen Dunmore has won awards for her fiction (the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize and the Orange Prize) and also for her poetry (she has won the Cardiff International Poetry Prize, been shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and had her books named as Poetry Book Society Choice and Recommendations). Dunmore is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL). 6.00pm Christopher Clark: Sleepwalkers Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 In The Sleepwalkers acclaimed historian and author of Iron Kingdom, Christopher Clark, examines the causes of the First World War. The moments that it took Gavrilo Princip to step forward to the stalled car and shoot dead Franz Ferdinand and his wife were perhaps the most fateful of the modern era. An act of terrorism of staggering efficiency, it fulfilled its every aim: it would liberate Bosnia from Habsburg rule and it created a powerful new Serbia, but it also brought down four great empires, killed millions of men and destroyed a civilization. What made a seemingly prosperous and complacent Europe so vulnerable to the impact of this assassination? In The Sleepwalkers Christopher Clark retells the story of the outbreak of the First World War and its causes. 7.30pm Pam Ayres: The Necessary Aptitude Price: £8.00 Pam Ayres comes to the Taunton Literary Festival to talk about her autobiography, The Necessary Aptitude, which is now published in paperback. It was the UK’s best selling female autobiography when it was first published in hardback last year. The Necessary Aptitude tells the story of Pam’s 1950s childhood, as the youngest of a family of six, growing up in the Vale of the White Horse in Berkshire. In her autobiography Pam describes her journey from a modest start to becoming a bestselling author and successful solo theatre performer. Tickets for Talks: Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER Tel. 01823 337742 or email:
  22. 22. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September Day 6, Thursday 27th September Kings’s College, South Rd, Taunton TA1 3LA 11.00am Doctor John Godrich:The Mountains of Moab: The Diary of Victor Godrich Tickets: £2.50 Memoirs of a young soldier who joined the Territorial Army in 1905, aged 18, and was shipped to Egypt with his horse after the outbreak of the First World War. He was posted to Shiva Bay, Gallipolli. This is the story of the close-knit life of a country cavalry regiment. The diary of Victor Godrich, published by his son, Dr John Godrich 2.00pm Karen Maitland: Falcons of Ice and Fire Tickets: £6.50 Schools:£2.50 Karen Maitland, the author of the hugely popular ‘Company of Liars’, has written a powerful historical thriller which takes you right back to the darkest corners of the 16th century. Intelligently written and meticulously researched, ‘The Falcons of Fire and Ice’; is a real treat for all fans of CJ Sansom and Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’ ,’A tour de force: dark and woven with the supernatural’ Daily Mail. Step back in time with Karen Maitland’s “Dark Tales” and discover a world full of imagination in “The Falcons of Fire and Ice” - “A thrilling horrible vision of the Dark Ages”. (“Metro”). Karen Maitland travelled and worked in many parts of the United Kingdom before finally settling in the beautiful medieval city of Lincoln. 4.30pm Peter Benson: Isabel’s Skin Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 David Morris lives the quiet life of a book-valuer for a London auction house, travelling every day by bus to his office in the Strand. When he is asked to make a trip to rural Somerset to value the library of the recently deceased Lord Buff-Orpington, the sense of trepidation he feels as he heads into the country is confirmed the moment he reaches his destination, the dark and impoverished village of Ashbrittle. These feelings turn to dread when he meets the enigmatic Professor Richard Hunt and catches a glimpse of a screaming woman he keeps prisoner in his house. 6.00pm Nicci French: Tuesday’s Gone Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 Nicci French is in fact the pesuedonym of the English husband-and-wife team of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. They are the bestselling authors of What to do When Someone Dies and Losing You. Nicci French returns with the second book in the gripping new series that began with Top Ten Bestseller Blue Monday. Fans of Peter James, Roy Grace and Peter Robinson DCI Banks series will love central character psychotherapist Frieda Klein, who is consulted on a grisly and seemingly unsolvable crime. 7.30pm Paddy Ashdown: A Brilliant Little Operation: The Cockleshell Heroes Tickets: £6.50 The complete story of the remarkable canoe raid on German ships in Bordeaux Harbour - by the man who himself served in the Special Boat Squadron. In 1942, before El Alamein turned the tide of war, the German merchant fleet was re-supplying its war machine with impunity. So Operation Frankton, a daring and secret raid, was launched by Mountbatten’s Combined Operations and led by the enigmatic ‘Blondie’ Hasler - to paddle ‘Cockleshell’ canoes right into Bordeaux harbour and sink the ships at anchor. It was a desperately hazardous mission from the start - dropped by submarine to canoe some hundred miles up the Gironde into the heart of Vichy France, surviving terrifying tidal races, only to face the biggest challenge of all: escaping across the Pyrenees. Tickets for Talks: Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER Tel. 01823 337742 or email: 23
  23. 23. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September Day 7, Friday 28th September Richard Huish College, South Rd, Taunton TA1 1XP 11.15am Katie Ward: Girl Reading Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 Seven portraits. Seven artists. Seven girls and women. A young orphan poses nervously for a Renaissance maestro in medieval Sienna, and an artist’s servant girl in 17th-century Amsterdam snatches a moment away from her work to lose herself in tales of knights and battles. A young woman reading in a Shoreditch bar catches the eye of a young man who takes her picture, and a Victorian medium holds a book that she barely acknowledges while she waits for the exposure.Each chapter of this richly textured debut takes us into a perfectly imagined tale of how each portrait came to be, and as the connections accumulate, the narrative leads us into the present and beyond; an inspired celebration of women reading and the artists who have caught them in the act. 1.15pm Tim Kevan: Law Peace Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 Chronicling the hilarious and sometimes almost unbelievable absurdities of the modern bar, and peopled by a cast of unforgettable characters, Law and Peace is a funny, fast-paced Machiavellian romp through the legal world. Tim Kevan is a barrister and writer. His first novel Law and Disorder (Bloomsbury) (originally called Baby Barista and the Art of War) was described by broadcaster Jeremy Vine as ‘a wonderful, racing read - well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud’; and by The Times as ‘a cross between The Talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones’s Diary’. It is based on the BabyBarista Blog which he writes for The Guardian. 4.30pm Sophia Kingshill: Fabled Coast Tickets: £6.50 Schools:£2.50 Pirates and smugglers, ghost ships and sea-serpents, fishermen’s prayers and sailors’ rituals - the coastline of the British Isles plays host to an astonishingly rich variety of local legends, customs and superstitions. In The Fabled Coast, renowned folklorists Sophia Kingshill and Jennifer Westwood gather together the most enthralling tales and traditions, tracing their origins and examining the facts behind the legends. The result is an endlessly fascinating, often surprising journey through our island history. 6.00pm Helen Harvey: Dog at the End of the World Tickets: £2.50 In a collection meandering from mermaids to garden sheds, from ghosts to PE teachers you’ll find a to-do list by God, a public health warning for books, and (possibly) the longest excuse for not replying to an email you’ll ever read. Helen Harvey’s first poetry collection blurs the everyday with the absurd, speaks in voices from every corner of space, time, fantasy and reality, and riddles you never will guess. She has been published in numerous journals and anthologies: most recently her flash fic;Rob meets Pterodactyl; was included in the collection Under the Stairs (Divertir, 2011), and her poem;’Mermaids in the Thames’; featured in Polluto. 7.30pm Jerry Brotton: A History of the World in Twelve Maps Tickets: £6.50 Schools: £2.50 Jerry Brotton is the presenter of the acclaimed BBC4 series Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession. Here he tells the story of our world through maps. Throughout history, maps have been fundamental in shaping our view of the world, and our place in it. But far from being purely scientific objects, world maps are unavoidably ideological and subjective, intimately bound up with the systems of power and authority of particular times and places. Mapmakers do not simply represent the world, they construct it out of the ideas of their age. In this scintillating book, Jerry Brotton examines the significance of 12 maps - from the mystical representations of ancient history to the satellite derived imagery of today. Tickets for Talks: Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER Tel. 01823 337742 or email:
  24. 24. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September Day 8, Saturday 29th September The Brewhouse Theatre, Coal Orchard, Taunton TA1 1JL 2.30pm Jane Robinson: A Force to be Reckoned With Tickets: £10.00 Ticket and Book(RRP £9.99): £16.00 Everyone knows three things about the Women’s Institute: that they spent the war making jam; the sensational Calendar Girls were from the WI; and, more recently, that slow-handclapping of Tony Blair. 215,000 women in the UK belong to the WI. Their membership crosses class and has recently begun to recruit huge numbers of young women. It was founded in 1915, not by worthy ladies in tweeds but by the feistiest women in the country, including suffragettes, academics and social crusaders who discovered the heady power of sisterhood, changing women’s lives and their world in the process. Certainly its members made jam and sang ‘Jerusalem’, but they did, and do, much more besides. 4.30pm Victoria Eveleigh: A Stallion Called Midnight Tickets: £4.00 Jenny secretly befriends ‘Midnight’, a wild horse on the island of Lundy. Midnight won’t let anyone tame him. Anyone, that is, except Jenny - but that’s their secret. A perfect story for pony-lovers based on the real legend of ‘Midnight’ the Lundy Stallion. Jenny has to leave him on their island home and go away to school. Rumours are spreading that Midnight is dangerous. How can Jenny keep Midnight safe and free if she’s not there to protect him? 6.00pm Gavin Esler: Lessons From the Top; How Leaders Succeed Through the Power of Stories Tickets: £12.00 Ticket and Book (RRP £12.99): £20.00 Great leaders have always understood the great power of stories. Through the stories they tell, the most successful leaders educate, persuade and bring about change, but we rarely have the background knowledge to explore how they do so. In this hugely insightful guide to getting to the top, leading journalist Gavin Esler presents first hand knowledge of the secrets of those who achieve power based on over thirty years experience interviewing world famous figures from Bill Clinton to Angelina Jolie. Gavin Esler is an award winning television and radio broadcaster, novelist and journalist. He is the author of five novels and a non-fiction book about the United States, The United States of Anger. 8.00pm Kate Mosse: The Languedoc Triology Tickets: £12.00 The second novel in Kate’s Languedoc Trilogy, Sepulchre, was an international and UK number 1 bestseller. Citadel, the final novel in the series, will be published this Autumn. Her short stories have appeared in a range of collections including Midsummer Nights (Quercus) and The Book Lovers’ Appreciation Society (Orion). A guest presenter for A Good Read for BBC Radio 4, Kate is also a regular guest on BBC Breakfast and The Review Show. Mosse is the Co-Founder Honorary Director of the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction, set up in 1996 to celebrate outstanding fiction by women throughout the world. A regular judge of writing, literary and art awards at national and local level - including the Asham Award, the Aventis Award, Orange Futures, the Harper’s Bazaar / Short Story Competition - she is a well known campaigner for literacy and one of the authors leading the campaign against library closures in the UK. In 2011, she was named by the Guardian and by the Bookseller as one of the top 50 most influential people in UK publishing. Please note, tickets for the events on this page only should be ordered direct from: The Brewhouse Theatre, Coal Orchard, Taunton TA1 1JL Box Office: 01823 283244
  25. 25. Taunton Literary Festival 22-30 September Day 9, Sunday 30th September Museum of Somerset, Castle Green, Taunton TA1 4AB 11.30am Emylia Hall: The Book of Summers Tickets: £6.50 Beth Lowe has been sent a parcel. Inside is a letter informing her that her long-estranged mother has died, and a scrapbook Beth has never seen before compiled by her mother to record the seven glorious childhood summers Beth spent in rural Hungary. It was a time when she trod the tightrope between separated parents and two very different countries; her bewitching but imperfect Hungarian mother and her gentle, reticent English father; the dazzling house of a Hungarian artist and an empty-feeling cottage in deepest Devon. And it was a time that came to the most brutal of ends the year Beth turned sixteen. Since then, Beth hasn’t allowed herself to think about those years of her childhood. But the arrival of The Book of Summers brings the past tumbling back into the present; as vivid, painful and vital as ever. 2.00pm Ben Kane: Spartacus:Rebellion Tickets: £6.50 The mighty slave army, led by Spartacus, has carried all before it, scattering the legions of Rome. Three praetors, two consuls and one proconsul have been defeated. Spartacus seems invincible as he marches towards the Alps and freedom. But storm clouds are massing on the horizon. Crixus the Gaul defects, taking all his men with him. Crassus, the richest man in Rome, begins to raise a formidable army, tasked specifically with the defeat of Spartacus. And within the slave army itself, there are murmurings of dissent and rebellion. Spartacus, on the brink of glory, must make a crucial decision - to go forward over the Alps to freedom, or back to face the might of Rome and try to break its stranglehold on power forever. 3.30pm David Priestland: Merchant, Soldier, Sage Tickets: £6.50 We live in an age ruled by merchants. Competition, flexibility and profit are still the common currency, even at a time when Western countries have been driven off a cliff by these very values. But will it always be this way? Merchant, Soldier, Sage is a remarkable book that proposes a radical new approach to how we see our world, and who runs it, in the vein of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History. David Priestland argues for the predominance in any society of one of three broad value systems - that of the merchant (commercial and competitive); the soldier (aristocratic and militaristic); and the sage (bureaucratic and creative). 6.00pm Jean Burnett: The Bad Miss Bennett Tickets: £6.50 Mr Wickham turned out to be a disappointing husband in many ways, the most notable being his early demise on the battlefields of Waterloo. And so Lydia Wickham, nee Bennet, still not twenty and ever-full of an enterprising spirit, must make her fortune independently. A lesser woman, without Lydia’s natural ability to flirt outrageously on the dancefloor and cheat seamlessly at the card table, would swoon in the wake of a dashing highwayman, a corrupt banker and even an amorous Royal or two. But on the hunt for a marriage that will make her rich, there’s nothing that Lydia won’t turn her hand to ...Taking in London, Paris and Brighton, Who Needs Mr Darcy? 7.30pm James Long: The Lives She Left Behind Tickets: £6.50 In a Somerset village, a teenage boy confronts a teacher with a story he should know nothing about. The boy’s impossible knowledge uncovers memories Michael Martin has done his utmost to forget - and soon propels him into danger. As Martin confronts his past once more, three girls arrive in the village of Pen Selwood, one of them drawn by an ancient instinct to find a man called Ferney. Her actions reignite a love story, an instinct that cannot be broken, irrespective of the hurt and danger it brings to those around them.. Tickets for talks: Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER 01823 337742 email: or Museum of Somerset, Castle Green Taunton TA1 4AB 01823 255088
  26. 26. August Events Events in date order. Contact details for most of the venues are given at the end of event listings. Please note, we do not take any responsibility for errors or omissions. Please check with venue for timings and programme details. Event Details Date Venue Time 1st Music Vida Guitar Quartet Dillington House 8.00 2nd Music English Guitar Quartet Dillington House 8.00 Talk Toni Davey talkes about her art The Barn, Obridge Hosue 7.30 Photography Cyanotype Photography Workshop Bishop’s Hull House 10.00 Music There on the Mountain: Folk Music From East Europe St John’s Church (Taunt) 10.00 3rd Music Louise Parker The Craig Milverton Trio (Jazz) Ilminster Arts Centre 8.00 4th Photography Photography Workshop with George Reekie St Michael’s Church (Galm) 2.00 5th Music George Formby with Sam Shepherd Friends of Wellington Park 2.30 6th Talks Helen Keenan: Dipped Toes Lasting Passions (Somerset Quilters) Taunton Catholic Centre 7.15 8-18th Musical Sweet Charity MATA Summer Show Regal Theatre 7.30 10th Art ‘Loosen Up’ Workshop with artist Gwyn Ardyth Bishop’s Hull House 9.30am 12th Music Yorkie - Wide Variety of Popular Music Friends Wellington Park 2.30 Music Taunton Sunday Band Concert Vivary Park Bandstand 3.00 14th Talk Insect Photography - John Bebbington Brendon Books 7.00 17th Drama Much Ado About Nothing - Folksy Theatre Walled Gardens Cannington 8.00 18th Writing Creative Writing with Robin Brumby St Michael’s Church (Galm) 2.00 Music Wellington Acoustic Music Club Wellington Arts Centre 8.00 Drama Much Ado About Nothing - Folksy Theatre Hestercombe Gardens tbc Music Sapphire Easy Listening Music Friends Wellington Park 2.30 Music Stoke Sub Hamdon Band Vivary Park Bandstand 3.00 Music Much Ado About Nothing - Folksy Theatre Hestercombe tbc Music Dillington House Jazz Week Concert Dillington Hosue 8.00 Music 19th 20 Tailgate Ramble Swing Dillington House 8.00 22-25th Drama His Dark Materials Part 1 - Brewhouse Young Company Brewhouse 2.30/7 24-26th Music Honk Musical - Pezazz Performing Arts Regal, Minehead 6.30 24th Gadjo Guitars - Jazz Ilmintser Arts Centre 8.00 Music 27
  27. 27. September Events Events in date order. Contact details for most of the venues are given at the end of event listings. Please note, we do not take any responsibility for errors or omissions. Please check with venue for timings and programme details. Date 1st Event Details Venue Time Importance of Being Earnest - Miracle Theatre Brewhouse (Vivary Park) 2/7.30 Music Ego sum qui sum - Blackdowns Early Music North Curry Parish Church 6.30 Music 2 Talk Tir Na Gog Contemporary Folk Music Wellington Arts Centre 7.30 Music Ego sum wui sum - Blackdowns Early Music Culmstock Parish Church 6.30 Music Taunton Burtle Silver Band Vivary Park 3.00 6 Poetry Fire River Poets Brewhouse Studio 8.00 7 Music Viola Oboe Recital - Ex pupils of Wells Cathedral St John’s Church, Taunton 12.30 Music Twelth Day Folk Music Bridgwater Arts Centre 8.00 Comedy Jethro Regal Theatre, Minehead 7.30 Music Julian Stringle Jim Hart Craig Milverton Trio Ilminster Arts Centre 8.00 Music Gilmore Roberts Contemporary Folk Music Wellington Arts Centre 7.30 7-16 Lighshow Hestercombe Gardens Illumina- Lighting up the garden Hestercombe Gardens 8.00 8 Music Live ‘N’ Up @ Brew Crew Brewhouse Studio 8.00 Music Oak Manor Golf Club Summer Ball Oake Manor 8.00 12 Drama Celebration of Tom Lehrer Bridgwater Arts Centre 8.00 13 Drama Adolf - Pip Utton Tacchi-Morris 7.30 Music The Upbeat Beatles Brewhouse Theatre 7.45 14 Music Wessex Baroque Ilminster Arts Centre 8.00 19 Music Melvyn Tan: International Piano Concert Series Brewhouse Theatre 7.45 19-22 Drama Monkey Bars - Chris Goode and Company Brewhouse Studio 8.00 21 Dance Taunton Tango! Tango! Brewhouse Theatre 7.45 22 Talk Sir Roger Carrick: Diplomatic Anecdotage (Lit. Festival) Castle Hotel 11.00 Talk Alexander Waugh: Kiss Me Chudleigh ( Lit. Festival) Castle Hotel 4.00 Talk Felix Francis: Bloodline (Lit. Festival) Castle Hotel 6.30 Music Hoorah! Amici accompanied by Ron Prentice Jazz Trio Kingston St Mary Church 7.30 Music Carry on Singing - Chris Dean’s Syd Lawrence Orchestra Brewhouse Theatre 7.45 Music The Alberni String Quartet Dillngton House 8.00 Talk Rosemary Penfold: Posy of Wild Flowers ( Lit. Festival) Hestercombe Gardens 11.30 Talk Stephen Moss Interview (Lit. Festival) Hestercombe Gardens 2.30 Talk Duff Hart Davis: Man of War (Lit. Festival) Hestercombe Gardens 4.00 Talk Graham Harvey: Quest for Real Food (Lit. Festival) Hestercombe Gardens 6.00 Talk Miriam Darlington: Otter Country (Lit. Festival) Hestercombe Gardens 7.30 Talk Chris Ewan: Safe House (Lit. Festival) Taunton School 2.00 Talk Ally Kennen: Bullet Boys (Lit. Festival) Taunton School 4.30 Talk John Darwin: Unfinished Empire (Lit. Festival) Taunton School 6.00 Talk Gervase Phinn: Village School (Lit. Festival) Taunton School 7.30 23 24
  28. 28. September Events Events in date order. Contact details for most of the venues are given at the end of event listings. Please note, we do not take any responsibility for errors or omissions. Please check with venue for timings and programme details. Date 25 Venue Event Details Time Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre 2.30 Open Mic Session (Lit. Festival) tacchi-Morris Arts Centre 6.00 James Forrester: Senses of Elizabethan England (Lit. Festival) Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre 8.00 Talk Keith Gibbs: Talk Experiments (Lit. Festival) Queen’s College 11.00 Patricia Ferguson: Midwife’s Daughter (Lit. Festival) Queen’s College 2.00 Talk Helen Dunmore: Stormswept (Lit. Festival) Queen’s College 4.30 Talk Christopher Clarke: Sleepwalkers (Lit. Festival) Queen’s College 6.00 Talk Pam Ayres: The Necessary Aptitide Dillington House 8.00 Music Spiers Boden folk and roots music Brewhouse Theatre 7.45 Talk Doctor John Godrich: Mountains of Moab (Lit. Festival) King’s College 11.00 Talk Karen Maitland: Falcons of Ice Fire (Lit. Festival) King’s College 2.00 Talk Peter Benson: Isabel’s Skin (Lit. Festival) King’s College 4.30 Talk Nicci French: Tuesday’s Gone (Lit. Festival) King’s College 6.00 Talk Paddy Ashdown: Brilliant Little Operation (Lit. Festival) King’s College 7.30 Drama Fever Pitch Brewhouse Theatre 7.45 Talk Katie Ward: Girl Reading Richard Huish 11.15 Talk Tim Kevan: Law Peace Richard Huish 1.15 Talk Sophia Kingshill: Fabled Coast Richard Huish 4.30 Talk Helen Harvey: Dog at End of the World (Lit. Festival) Richard Huish 6.00 Talk Jerry Brotton: History of the World in 12 Maps (Lit. Festival) Richard Huish 7.30 Music Riamba London salsa band Ilminster Arts Centre 8.00 Talk Jane Robinson: A Force ot be Reckoned With (Lit. Festival) Brewhouse Theatre 2.30 Talk Victoria Eveleigh: A Stallion Called Midnight (Lit. Festival) Brewhouse Theatre 4.00 Talk Gavin Esler: Lessons From the Top (Lit. Festival) Brewhouse Theatre 6.00 Talk Kate Mosse: The Languedoc Triology (Lit. Festival) Brewhosue Theatre 8.00 Music 30 Beth Webb: Star Dancer (Lit. Festival) Talk 29 12.00 Talk 28 Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre Talk 27 Ginny Bailey: Africa Junction (Lit. Festival) Talk 26 Talk Taunton Sinfonietta: Ebony Ivory Temple Methodist Church 7.30 Talk Emylia Hall: The Book of Summers (Lit. Festival) Somerset Museum 11.30 Talk Ben Kane: Spartacus: Rebellion Somerset of Museum 2.00 Talk David Priestland: Merchant, Soldier, Sage (Lit. Festival) Somerset of Museum 3.30 Talk Jean Burnett: The Bad Miss Bennett Somerset of Museum 6.00 Talk James Long: The Lives She Left Behind (Lit. Festival) Somerset of Museum 7.30 29
  29. 29. Contact List Contacts List Barn, Obridge House. Contact: Jeremy Harvey. 01823 276421 Barrington Court Barrington  Ilminster, Somerset TA19 0NQ 01460 242614 Brendon Books Bath Place Taunton TA1 4ER 01823 337742 The Brewhouse Theatre Arts Centre Coal Orchard Taunton TA1 1JL 01823 274608 Bridgwater Arts Centre 11-13 Castle Street  Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 3DD 01278 422 700 The Castle Hotel Castle Green Taunton TA1 1NF 01823 272671 Church St Peter St Paul Moor Lane North Curry Ta3 6JZ 01823 490255 The David Hall, Roundwell St SOuth Petherton. TA13 5AA 01460 240340 Dillington House  Estate Office, Whitelackington, Ilminster, Somerset TA19 9DT 01460 258648 Enmore Inn Enmore Rd  Durleigh, BRIDGWATER, Bridgwater, Somerset TA5 2AW01278 422 052 Halseway Manor Crowcombe  Taunton, Somerset TA4 4BD 01984 618274 Hestercombe Gardens Hestercombe  Taunton TA2 8LG 01823 413 923 Hobbyhorse Ballroom Esplanade  Minehead, Somerset TA24 5QP 01643 702274 Ilminster Arts Centre East Street ILMINSTER TA19 0AN 01460 55783  Oake Manor Golf Club,Oake Taunton  TA4 1BA 01823 461992 Parish Church St John Wellington 72 High Street Wellington(01823) 662248 Porlock Village Hall Toll Road (New Rd), Porlock TA24 8QD 01643 862717 Queen’s Conference Centre Trull Road Taunton Ta1 4QS 01823 272559 Regal Theatre 10-16 The Avenue  Minehead TA24 5AY 01643 706430 Richard Huish College 2 Kings Close  Taunton, Somerset TA1 3XP 01823 320800 Silver Street Centre Silver Street  Wiveliscombe, Taunton, Somerset TA4 2PA 01984 623107 St Mary Magdalene Church Church Square Taunton TA1 1SA 01823 272441 St Mary’s Church Bridgwater St Mary Street Bridgwater TA6 3EQ 01278 422437 St Mary’s Church Stogumber St John’s Church Park Street Taunton TA1 4DG Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre School Road Taunton TA2 8PD 01823 41 41 41 Taunton RFC Hyde Park, Hyde Lane, Bathpool, Taunton, Somerset, TA2 8BU 01823 336363 Temple Methodist Church Upper High Street Taunton TA1 3PY (01823) 275765 Warehouse Theatre  Brewery Lane, Ilminster, TA19 9AD Tel 01460 57049 Wellesley Theatre 50-52 Mantle Street Wellington TA21 8AU 01823 666668 Wellington Arts Centre, Eight Acre Lane, Wellington, TA21 8PS 01458 250655 Wellsprings Leisure Centre Cheddon Road Taunton TA2 7QP 01823 271271 Art Exhibitions 7 July-11August. Brewhouse Theatre Gallery. Take the M4 East The the M5 South. 11 July-10 August. Brewhouse Theatre Cafe Bar. Somerset Society of Arts. Annual Exhibition 2012. 23 July-18 August. Ilminster Arts Centre. Double Vision: Barbara Whiteley, Felicity Brichien-Columbia 20 August-1September. Ilminster Arts Centre. Changing Perspectives: Jill Preston, Jo Hamilton Wendy Hermelin 20 August-9 September. Hestercombe Lutyens Gallery Exhibition. Allie Giles: Pen ink drawings. 11 August-2 September. Bingham Grange Summer Art Exhibition.
  30. 30. Piano Lessons Experienced Teacher Home Visits Exams or Pleasure Harry Sherman 01823 338842 31
  31. 31. Somerset Arts works takes place between 15-30 September and makes up the majority of the visual arts programme in the area in Somerset in September with over 350 artists at around 221 studios, barns streets and other venues across Somerset plus an exhibition programme. Amongst the highlights at this year’s Somerset Art Weeks 2012 are beautiful garden ceramics, wood sculpture and bowls from sustainable local sources, a silent auction for a Goldsmith’s graduate’s paintings, site-specific weaving and light installations, colourful limited edition etchings, and dreamy watercolours inspired by the Somerset landscape. These, and over 300 other inspirational, diverse artworks will be on display in houses, barns, halls, studios and streets during Somerset Art Weeks 2012, September 15 – 30. Purchase or commission unique artworks, craft, jewellery and ceramics, or just enjoy Somerset’s art and culture. Many artists have international reputations, all have a story to tell, and positively encourage conversation about their work. Most studios are family friendly and some also cater for people with disabilities. To complement the Somerset spirit of artistic adventure, Somerset Art Works are also staging several events and exhibitions. SAW has commissioned Chantelle Henocq from Fire Ice to work with graduate photographer Sebastian King and Somerset based writer David Davis to produce images and words around the theme ‘Artists and their creative space’. The commission will be exhibited at the Cafe Gallery at the Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton during the Art Weeks. The Brewhouse Theatre will also be transformed into temporary artists’ studios to host resident exchange artists from Stroud and an emerging artist from Somerset.  Showcasing SAW’s curatorial programme, Maximum Exposure, will be a 13 metre inflatable sculpture to celebrate Yeovil’s glove making history (bouncing welcome!) and a film documenting the moving art happening from Illuminos where projections and illuminations highlighted pill boxes of the old Taun- ton Stop Line- 300 military bunkers built during WWII to stop a potential German advance from the West. Visitors can see the unique film at Illminster Warehouse Theatre. Artistic interpretations of the Great Crane Project - the re-introduction of the majestic crane back to the Somerset Levels - will be on show at the Somerset Craft Centre, including hundreds of origami cranes created by community groups, as well as sculpture, jewellery and painting. Somerset Art Weeks is organised by Somerset Art Works (SAW Ltd,) a not-for-profit organisation which promotes the visual arts and creates opportunities for visual artists and makers in Somerset by advocacy, promotion and development. Further Information A comprehensive full colour guides available from libraries and Tourist Information Centres throughout Somerset as well as a number of other pick-up points or by sending A5 SAE for £1.20 to SAW Ltd, Town Hall, Bow St, Langport TA10 9QR. Alternatively see online venue map and list of participants at the following website addresses: www. map and www.somersetartworks.
  32. 32. A Potters Life Nick Rees, master potter, celebrates 40 years at Muchelney Pottery Anyone who’s ever tried throwing a pot by hand on a wheel will know how incredibly difficult it is to control that spinning lump of wet clay. Imagine then the challenge of handthrowing fifty or a hundred pots, one after another, all to the same design. But Master Potter Nick Rees, right-hand man at John Leach’s famous Muchelney Pottery, near Langport, Somerset has achieved that. And much more. As well as taking a major role in producing Muchelney Pottery’s renowned catalogue range of handmade kitchenware for the past forty years, Nick has been closely involved with the pottery shop and the business bookkeeping; managing the crucial and gruelling two-day firing of the pottery kiln, and explaining the workings of the pottery to visitors from all over the world. John Leach is quick to acknowledge that the continuing success of Muchelney Pottery owes much to Nick’s deft hand, critical eye and potting skills. “He’s amazing. I feel we’re more like partners than employer and employee,” says John. “The shapes of Muchelney pots may be my designs, but Nick is fantastic at interpreting them. And, it may seem a small thing, but he is an absolute master at getting lids to fit! He could make, say, fifty garlic pots with lids – and the lids would all be interchangeable. Incredible.” The pots that Nick makes range from mugs and bowls to jugs and plates. “Goodness knows how many I’ve made over the years – it must be tens of thousands,” he estimates. Looking back over his forty-year career Nick, a highly intelligent but unassuming man, sums it up: “I’ve been so privileged to work with John at Muchelney. I love the pot designs and my nature is such that I positively enjoy the precision and the discipline needed to achieve and maintain the level of craftsmanship handmade pottery demands.” The physical toll of the work is demanding, he admits. Mixing the heavy clay; carrying boards of unfired pots from workshop to kilnshed; incredibly hot, back-breaking hours feeding wood into the kiln. But the rigours have always been immensely rewarding, not only in the satisfaction of mastering the required potting skills but in the excitement of discovery at each kiln opening and in the ultimate contentment of using one’s hands to produce desirable, useful objects. Even in his spare time, Nick continues to make pots, but to his own personal designs. Pots which, although founded on his years of experience in the Leach tradition, are noticeably different from the sturdy, classic shapes of his “day job”. Nick’s decorative pots have an elegance and a subtle refinement in outline and their surfaces are accentuated by carving and fluting and experiments with slips and glazes. “Making my own designs has been about finding a voice and making a spiritual statement”, he explains. Most of his designs are fired in the Muchelney kiln which gives them the unique, organic signature of wood-firing. But two years ago Nick began experimenting with an electric kiln and this has led him to new exploration into the possibilities of oxidised firing, “a process that allows no hiding places.” Since his first one-man exhibition at a prestigious gallery in Ringwood in 1990, Nick has established a laudable reputation for his distinctive personal work in stoneware and porcelain. More exhibitions have followed and his pots are now for sale in a selection of leading galleries throughout the country. They are also in the Leach Pottery at St Ives and in the gallery at Muchelney Pottery. It is here that an exhibition is planned for September to celebrate Nick’s achievements over 40 years, with the launch of his latest collection of individual, signed pots. Nick’s career could have been very different. Somerset-born in 1949, he initially trained as 33 a teacher in creative design at Loughborough College of Education and spent two years teaching woodwork in a Coventry comprehensive school before deciding to change direction and train to be a potter. But Nick’s teaching abilities have proved very useful at Muchelney. During public kiln opening events at the pottery, he is always on hand to answer visitors’ questions about the making process. “And he has been so good at running a practised eye over the work of students and apprentices who have trained with us over the years,” adds John. Nick remembers his own 1972 initial “trial period” at Muchelney very clearly. John Leach set him the task of making 150 coffee mugs. After inspecting the finished work, John threw out 148 of the mugs and passed just two as saleable. “I didn’t think he’d keep any of them” was Nick’s reaction. It was this reaction which helped to convince John that Nick had the right kind of temperament to become a potter and that they would work well together. “I really admired his patience – and I still do,” says John. John’s confidence was fulfilled. With the aid of a government grant Nick successfully completed his five-year apprenticeship. Then, at John’s suggestion, he left Muchelney temporarily to experience work in Brian and Julia Newman’s nearby Aller Pottery. Three months later he returned and the rest, as they say, is history. In 1998 Nick was elected a Fellow of the Craft Potters Association and in 2005 was elected a Full Member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.
  33. 33. Colour Matters Painting is the latest of several careers in Angus Stirling’s life. In September he will hold a joint exhibition with his daughter, Kitty. After he left university Angus worked as a trainee at Christie’s auctioneers before becoming a merchant banker at Lazar Brothers for 10 years. It stood him in good stead for the rest of his life. ‘It gave me invaluable business experience,’He explains. ‘I could not have done any of things that I did afterwards without it.’ But art was never far away from his vision. After Hazard’s he spent a brief spell as the administrative director of the Paul Mellon Foundation who published literature on British art. Following that he became deputy director of the Arts Council where he remained for ‘nine very happy years.’ He then joined the National Trust where he became director general and where he was to stay for 17 years. Angus was clear before his retirement that he would devote himself to art and has done so since then. He has a studio at his Somerset home at the foot of the Quantocks. It is not his exclusive interest (he retains some non-executive posts in London and enjoys walking and photography among other pastimes), but it is art that continues to inspire him - and he does not like to be too long away from his studio. He may have inherited a talent for painting from his mother. She trained as an artist in her twenties and was a talented figurative painter, mainly of landscapes. She brought him up to look at pictures from the age of 3 or 4. From the age of 5 or 6 he received painting tuition. His great-grandfather (on his mother’s side), was also a fine painter; a traveller and explorer who painted watercolours wherever he went. Both his mother and father collected painting. His father, who was a banker, preferred old masters while his mother collected twentieth century art. After retiring, Angus sought out Robin Child who had been recommended to him as an art tutor. He has high praise for Child. ‘He taught with great insight other artists work” He gave him the intellectual stimulus to understand what he was doing though Angus believes that at some stage you have to launch out on your own as, ‘Otherwise your painting can become too derivative.’ Child also gave him a thorough grounding in the technical side of producing art which he believes he has improved on over the years. Before painting in oils, for example, he takes a great deal of trouble to prepare his palette, setting up the warms and cools before deciding whether the general tone of the painting is to be light or dark, believing that if you set up your palette carefully in this way you are less likely to paint a bad picture. Angus’s training also embraced fundamental principles governing the organisation of the picture space. ‘It is a question of instinctive awareness of where the golden section and the square of the rectangle lie on the canvas, in order to make the composition secure and interesting. It is not always easy, but it is one of the keys that unlocks a good picture. When painting the human figure Angus will usually sketch onto the canvas first though he is less likely to when he is painting a landscape or abstract painting. He often takes a small pocket sketchbook and does a series of drawings, say a landscape or a building, especially if travelling. These will usually be figurative drawings. He will then take them back to the studio and explore what the drawings make him feel and reinterpret them in the form of a painting. What emerges is often very different from the drawing. In fact, sometimes there is no obvious relationship between the drawing and the painting. Sometimes the paintings that result are abstract and sometimes they are not. He is often approached by people who do not think they like an abstract painting. They will make such comments as what does it mean or what is it supposed to represent. His answer is to suggest the adoption of the same approach that you would when you go to a music concert Evocation of the garden of Ninfa Angus Stirling in his studio when you do not ask that question. For him colour matters almost more than anything else – he loves the effect produced by their juxtaposition. Angus also attempts to explore the form of the painting through the colour as well as through the composition. He particularly likes the American Expressionists, ‘because of their use of colour and the exciting way they handle paint – in a free and expressive manner.’ ‘I have no interest in reproducing accurately what I see,’ he adds, ‘which does not mean that I do not admire those who do’ He is influenced by the relationship of music to painting. ‘It does not mean that I listen to a piece of music try to turn that music directly into a painting,’ he explains ‘but if I am listening to a piece of music, say by Berlioz whose music is particularly colourful I may draw something from the rhythm and counterpoint and the tonal values – which also apply to painting.’ Poetry can also sometimes be an influence on his painting, particularly the poetry of A.E. Houseman, Yeats and John Clare. He sold three pictures inspired by John Clare in an open studio event for Somerset Arts Week a few years ago. Angus goes on to describe how he is searching for a kind of meaning when he paints a picture especially ones which features nature. He is interested in the spiritual value that you can try to convey – albeit elusive and difficult to find. ‘I’m not trying to make an image, but rather to search for and discover an assemble of mass, line, colour and texture that will blend into a painting that conveys what I am trying to say. If it then also speaks to the viewer, you have gone some way to succeed.’ In order to give an example of this he turns to his painter hero, Cezanne, citing the numerous landscapes that Cezanne painted of St Victoire. ‘I think there were few artists of the twenti-
  34. 34. eth century that were not influenced in some way by Cezanne,’ he continues. ‘I think he was the artist that understood the wholeness of nature. He was truly original. He created a new way of looking and interpreting landscape, figures and still life, integrating all elements of the picture and in his later years foreshadowing the cubism developed by Braque and Picasso.’ Angus has three children, all of whom have been capable painters, but it is Kitty, his youngest daughter who has always wanted to be an artist since she was a young child and is now a professional artist and tutor. Angus and Kitty frequently work together and share the experience of both the creative act of painting and looking at art of all kinds. He believes she has helped him appreciate how to use space in a painting and admires her paintings. They shared an exhibition at Cork Street Gallery in London in November 2010. The exhibition was a tremendous success. They sold 57 pictures in a week between them in approximately equal numbers. Other galleries have since taken an interest in both their works and now they are to repeat the joint approach Early Morning, Quantock Hills oil on canvas Exhibition by Angus Stirling and Kitty Stirling at the Lynda Cotton Gallery 46-47 Swain Street, Watchet TA23 OAG 01984 631814 SEPTEMBER 10 - 22 SEPTEMBER. OPEN MONDAY TO SUNDAY 10.00AM - 5.30PM KITTY STIRLING Kitty Stirling says of her father, ‘ I have my father to thank for being an artist. When I was young, despite his dedicated career in the Arts, he always enjoyed painting when the time allowed and my mother and he would do a lot of sketching on holiday. In 1976, aged 10, my father and I went to see a Turner exhibition at Tate Britain which had a big effect in my thinking about painting. The exhibition as I remember, juxtaposed Turner with Rembrandt, two great masters. Struck by the magnificent light emanating from these paintings, I was also taken in by the window they created to another world, a coherent vision of nature. My father lifted me up to the paintings so I could see them closely and in an instance I entered the world of paint. That day I discovered that light was equal to white. In recent years, my father has become an artist in his own right and I visit him in his studio from time to time to look at what he’s been doing. I’m struck by his boldness in colour and his painterly expression. I enjoy his passion and feel immensely proud of him. ‘ Kitty studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art and Byam Shaw School of Art and her work has been regularly exhibited in solo and group exhibitions since 1990. Much of her life has Kitty and Angus been spent in the Quantock Hills of Somerset. Between 1999 and 2007 she divided her time between England and Greece, where she taught and painted. Most recently represented by Caroline Wiseman Modern and Contemporary, her work is in private collection and has been selected for the Lyn Painter Stainers Prize (2010) and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2012). Since 2009, Kitty Stirling has roamed freely inside the private allotments of Child’s Hill, drawing a community of outsiders (in Greek idiotikes) whose personal stories led each one there; nurturing plants as a means to nurturing themselves, returning there because there embodies the place in which they feel most at home. For the artist such inanimate traces of human life offer an opportunity for contemplation, as if the last personon earth has just departed. There is something unexpectedly poignant about these personal spaces, and to study them is an act of gentle voyeurism to which the viewers are an intimate party. Plot 42 North 35 Birdcage 1
  35. 35. Quartz Visual Arts Festival 2012 John Marston, the Quartz Festival Director looks forward to the 2012 programme. In the seven years since the inaugural Quartz arts festival began in 2005 this annual exhibition of paintings and sculpture by some of the South West’s most renowned artists has become a key event in the region’s artistic life. The evening performance events have attracted audiences from all over region; headlining acts such as Seth Lakeman, the late and great Humphrey Lyttelton, Sandy Toksvig and many others have been boosting and refreshing the town’s cultural profile for the last seven years. Leading exponents of classical music, jazz, folk rock, and theatre groups, comics and poets have played to audiences in the Queen’s Hall, and children from across the county’s schools have been visiting the festival’s art and enjoying the performance events. The aim of the festival both in terms of performance and the art work has always been to provide Taunton with a mix of the popular and the provocative. The John Hegley Lesley Garrett festival organisers have aimed to create an intense ten day festival of art and acts with strong flavour and an eclectic appeal. This year the tradition looks to continue, both in terms of the high profile artists exhibiting, some for the first time, and for the diversity of the performances in the evenings. Events from the small scale intimate theatre of Chris Larner, whose Edinburgh Festival’s award winning and bitter-sweet exploration of assisted suicide will sit alongside the well established acts of Lesley Garrett and Elkie Brooks. In the midst of this the festival we will also welcome the poet comic John Hegley, known as the ‘people’s laureate’, and the idiosyncratic cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, whose extraordinary life story is worth hearing. The range of appeal looks to be absorbing and should create a buzz around Taunton as next Autumn begins to take hold. Lesley Garrett, whose early career included engagements with Glyndebourne and the English National opera, and who is now established as one of the country’s Louise Baker
  36. 36. Sara Dudman most popular sopranos, will be coming to the festival for the first time. Elkie Brooks, recently described by the guardian as ‘still one of Britain’s best voices’, returns to the festival after seven years with her six piece band and a new album.. This year the festival has widened the remit of the exhibition to include not only painting and sculpture but also the Applied Arts; Furniture, Ceramics, Jewellery, Textiles and Photography. About 40 Artists will be showing this year, some new to the venue: Matthew Ensor, Maggie King, Paul Anderson, Sara Dudman and some regular Exhibitors George Hider, Melanie Deegan and Claire Western. There will be on show a series of short accessible Artists Films on a closed loop in the café and the hope is to have an Andy Goldsworthy style Sculpture taking shape as the festival progresses in the Gardens at Queen’s. A series of fringe performances, as members of the public look around the art work, will also take place. These are to take place at 4.15 pm on each day of the festival. It’s certainly worth looking out for the clowning and visually stunning street performers Le Navet Bete, who tour internationally at 6th October 2012. For tickets: and will be performing on Friday 28th of September. There is to be a programme of informal Artists talks in the Exhibi- Artists on Display from Wed 26 Sep - Sat 6 Oct 2012 Maggie King, Nicky Clarke, Susan Deakin, Sam Photic, Waiyuk Kennedy, Michael Tarr, Pauline Zelinkski, Sarah Thompson-Engels, Caroline Mcmillan Davey, Judy Willoughby, Le Navet Bete, Mathew Ensor, Ursula Leach, Chris Webb, Claire Schmidt-Norris, Claire Western, Heather Hughes and Jenni Dutton. Event Line-up Date Thur 27 Sep 2012 Mon 01 Oct 2012 Tue 02 Oct 2012 Wed 03 Oct 2012 Thu 04 Oct Fri 05 Oct 2012 Event Lesley Garrett Harrison Richards Henry Blofield John Hegley Elkie Brooks Chris Larner Time 7.30pm 7.30pm 7.30pm 2.00pm 7.30pm 7.30pm Queen’s College, Trull Road, Taunton TA1 4QS Enquiries: 01823 340805 or email 37 Lucy Hinds tion Hall from 2-3pm on most days, creating accessibility and added enjoyment to the experience. The festival will welcome visitors new to the festival and of course those re-visiting. The gallery is open between 11.00 am and 5.00 pm. Visitors can enjoy the art at their own leisure and find good quality coffee and cakes in the adjacent café. The evening events are best booked online. Some shows are likely to be sold out so it might be wise to book early.