Art as it is lived, Art as it is applied, Art as people understand it        
      Interviews with Participants (shot by Josh Randall) Information and Resources For Teachers Information Boards from Exhibition (Jack Flaxton)        
        1st Excerpt of Installation (Flaxton) 2nd Excerpt of Installation (Flaxton) Excerpt of full-size portraits (Flaxton)      
      Portraits Projects

The traditional rural industries of Somerset have been documented and recorded thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) The award of £38,500 allowed the Visualfields partnership to have made portraits in very high resolution of local craftspeople involved in traditional skills. They were filmed in May 2011exhibited on a large screen at the Museum of Bath at Work from July to September this year and this is now being exhibited at Glastonbury Abbey until January 22nd 2012 Further exhibitions are now being planned.

The Visualfields partnership Terry Flaxton, (Senior Research Fellow at University of Bristol) and Producer Charlotte Humpston (also an artist and film and theatre designer), are a not-for-profit company based in Somerset who have previously produced high definition art projects in Somerset, Bristol and abroad, in China, America, Italy and Malta. Three years ago Visualfields made a series of portraits of local people set in front of Glastonbury Tor. These were projected on a large screen in the Abbey Barn at the Rural Life Museum, at an event attended by an enthusiastic local audience. They went on to film ‘Portraits of Somerset Carnivals’ at Burnham, which was also screened at the Rural Life Museum

“Audiences loved watching the film of the floats go by in slow motion and the life size portraits of Glastonbury characters standing still for one minute were completely fascinating for audiences. As our 21st century lives are so busy and full of disturbing news items we wanted to celebrate what we have here in Somerset, which is very much about appreciating and celebrating our heritage and traditions." Terry came up with the current idea of filming portraits of Somerset craftspeople after he met Hubert Watts, who has been farming down on Queen’s Sedge Moor, Glastonbury all his life. He is now 82 years old and still gets out on his tractor. Terry says “We wish to send the message of the rich vibrant Somerset culture to the rest of the country - as well as abroad. ‘Monumental Portraits of Somerset Working People’ is intended to help to add to and sustain the identity of our region”

Part of Terry’s research at the University of Bristol involves investigating the effect of images filmed in the higher resolutions. As yet people haven’t really seen the effect of the resolutions that we are capable of. HD is a small gesture towards what we can actually now accomplish at the higher end of technology. Our portraits project aims to show people the effect of this new technology as well as delivering the sense that in a crowded, busy world, the community, wherever it is to be found, is the really important base of culture’.

Oral histories of the ‘Portraitees’ were also recorded by volunteersorganised for VisualFileds by the Engine Rooms in Bridgwater, who received professional training supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund award. These histories provide added interest in the exhibition plus provide the basis for a 90 minute documentary that is currently being made. Charlotte Humpston: “We are so grateful and excited about receiving this award and feel very lucky, as so many arts organizations in Somerset, are having their funding cut,”.

Explaining the reasons for the award Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the South West said: ”We recognise the crucial importance of traditional skills in ensuring the future of so many aspects of our varied heritage, from historic buildings to unique landscapes and biodiversity; our recent ‘Skills for the Future’ initiative is helping to ensuring that these skills can be passed on to a new generation of craftspeople. By recording the memories and way of life of today’s traditional workers, this project will help to ensure that their skills can be understood and appreciated by future generations”

      Somerset Carnivals
      A ten minute tour of a recent exhibition
      Charlotte Humpston heritage        

Charlotte Humpston, Paintings, Textile and Digital Installations


Charlotte Humpston: Production Design


Terry Flaxton


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