Hauser and Wirth garden and gallery at Brunton in Somerset is so achingly modern and on trend that it’s an unexpected find in the middle of Somerset. Being only a short detour from the A303 it is certainly worth a visit, especially to break a journey en-route to the West Country.
Durslade Farmhouse forms part of a group of Grade II listed farm buildings that date back to as early as the mid 1700s which were taken over by Hauser and Wirth in 2012 when they received planning permission to convert the derelict farm into something quite different.
A CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY AND LANDSCAPED GARDEN
Today, Durslade Farm is a ‘World Class’ gallery and multi-purpose arts centre, featuring innovative exhibitions of contemporary art. Behind the exhibition building lies the ‘Oudolf Field’, designed for the gallery by landscape architect Piet Oudolf. The area has signature Oudolf appeal and at the time of our visit in mid-July the planting was beginning to take on its midsummer finery.
GORGEOUS OUDOLF PLANTING
The naturalistic planting comprises great clumps of towering veronicastrum and eupatorium, frothy filipendula, daisy-like rudbeckia, miscanthus and feathery calamagrostis acutiflora dotted with globes of plummy sanguisorba which create a tapestry of colour, interwoven with mown paths. To the centre, a gravel path is highlighted with curious ‘telly-tubby’ like oval grass mounds and the entire garden has a fluid feel with repetitive planting occurring throughout. The area retains a ‘field’ like feeling since it has retained its surrounding hedges which enable the visitor to focus on the planting although glimpses towards the borrowed landscape beyond can be seen.
Any visitor to the garden cannot help but be drawn towards the dramatic structure at the rear of the 1.5 acre site. The Radić Pavilion, designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radić was first unveiled as the Serpentine Gallery 2014 Pavilion. One is able to walk inside the snail-like structure where the curved walkway leads to a viewing window high up inside.
GALLERY AND GIFTS
In the former farm buildings, modern art is exhibited and the gallery is host to a number of events thoughout the year, such as workshops and talks. The gift shop is refreshing simple, stocking books, cards and cushions.
LUNCHES, TEAS AND MORE
If you wish to stop for refreshment, the Roth bar and grill provides simple local produce and excellent service. Customers are seated at trestle tables and sharing a table seems natural in this relaxed environment. Food was delicious; we enjoyed a simple chicken and avocado sandwich in a fresh brioche bap, accompanied by hand-cut chips. Judging by the clientele, this is no ordinary cafe and arty-types were tucking into truly delicious food under the canvas canopy of the courtyard dining area. According to their website,the Roth Bar & Grill is open late until midnight on Friday evenings, with live performances and musicians.
How fortunate the people of Somerset are, to have such a vibrant and exciting space to visit and eat. We shall certainly return.
8th August 2016.
A return visit has already been made and the Oudolf field has matured nicely into high summer. The plantings are taller now and more fluid with echinacea and helenium providing colour. The planting looks to mature nicely into autumn with the grasses and eventual seed heads providing structure and form.