Town to celebrate art and crafts with inaugural festival

Portishead Arts Festival

Some of the artists exhibiting at Somerset Hall. - Credit: Tracey Fowler

Portishead is gearing up for its first ever official arts festival.

The event takes place this weekend, spanning eight different venues covering visual and performing arts. It has been organised by Portishead mum Nicola Holland, local artist Jeff Lucas and a small team of volunteers.

Organisers Nicola Holland and Jeff Lucas

Organisers Nicola Holland and Jeff Lucas. - Credit: Tracey Fowler

Nicola said: “I moved here a few years ago and was blown away by the beauty of the coastline, the wealth of nature in the surrounding countryside, the magnificent ships that pass by almost on our doorsteps… and I wondered why this place wasn’t being talked about everywhere."

"I asked the question on social media: ‘Portishead is so gorgeous! Why don’t more people know about it? Why isn’t there some sort of regular festival, maybe an arts festival?’ The resounding response was: ‘That’s a good idea, why don’t you organise it?’ So that’s what I’m doing.”

John and Karen Osborne will be exhibiting at Somerset Hall with their Industrial Modern Art and Furniture

John and Karen Osborne will be exhibiting at Somerset Hall with their Industrial Modern Art and Furniture - Credit: Tracey Fowler

Somerset Hall, in the town’s precinct, will be the focal point for Portishead Arts Festival weekend, hosting the main visual art exhibition comprising 15 local artists showcasing high quality work to suit all tastes. Exhibits include painting, drawing, pottery, industrial-modern furniture, graphic art, textile art, felting and silver jewellery. The venue will also host a photography exhibition. The photos on display will be those entered in to the festival photography competition, with the winners announced on Sunday afternoon.

Somerset Hall will be open on Saturday from 10am-6pm and on Sunday from 11am-5pm with free admission. Chris Sperring will also talk on 'Nature in Art' on Saturday at 11.30am and on Sunday the guest speakers will be artist Steve Jacobson and photographer David White.

Folk Hall exhbiting artist Tracie Fry with one of her shoreline paintings

Folk Hall exhibiting artist Tracie Fry with one of her shoreline paintings - Credit: Tracey Fowler

A less formal visual art exhibition will take place on Saturday from 10am-5pm at the Folk Hall, in High Street. Exhibitors will vary from accomplished painters to professional crafters and a poet. Clevedon Poet Peter Gibbs will be promoting his recently published book, Let The Good Times Roll, a poetry anthology. He will also be giving a poetry reading at 2pm. Admission is free and there will be free teas, coffee and cake with donations invited to the MacMillan Cancer Support charity.

Claire Fry's handcrafted ornaments and seasonal decorations will be available at the Folk Hall

Claire Fry's handcrafted ornaments and seasonal decorations will be available at the Folk Hall - Credit: Tracey Fowler

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Visitors to the Folk Hall exhibition will also have an opportunity to explore the Portishead Heritage Centre. Photos, detailed records, maps and artefacts dating back more than 100 years have been displayed in the centre at the rear of the main hall since September 2020, however due to the pandemic the facility has not yet officially opened. It will, however, be accessible during the exhibition.

Just across the road from the Folk Hall, Court House Farm and Gardens will be open to the public from 11am-3pm. It will host flower cutting , afternoon teas, a talk by textile designer Janet Haig and a knitting workshop with Avril Best.

Live music over the weekend will include Highly Strung and Kilkenny Bay Steamers in The Precinct and the Barnacle Buoys on the quay at Portishead marina, while Le Roc will be encouraging everyone to join the flash mob dance in The Precinct at 3.15pm on Saturday.

Other activities include modelling workshops with Aardman and graffiti sessions at the youth centre, guided tours of the public art trail and Portbury Wharf nature reserve and live music at The Poacher pub.

A map detailing events can be found in the window of Reeds Rains estate agents, in High Street. Meanwhile Tanya Marriott, owner of SoleLution, has appealed to shop keepers in the High Street to decorate their windows for the weekend.

SoleLution team member Lauren receiving artwork from The Nursery

SoleLution team member Lauren receiving artwork from The Nursery - Credit: Tracey Fowler

Tanya invited children from The Nursery in Combe Road to create pictures for her window. She said: “It’s great to see that after a tough year or more, volunteers are still prepared to organise community events in Portishead and I would like to see the whole town get behind the inaugural Portishead Arts Festival in one way or another to ensure it becomes an annual event on the town’s calendar.”

Full details of the festival, including a downloadable programme can be found at www.portisheadartsfestival.co.uk

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