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Hauser and Wirth in Somerset

Hauser and Wirth in SomersetHauser and Wirth are an uber contemporary art dealer, with galleries in Switzerland, New York and London. They're opening a new arts centre in Bruton, around the corner from us. I popped into the site this week as as we're supplying some wildflowers to the amazing garden, designed by world renowned designer Piet Oudolf and realized by cool local firm PU+H. The whole site will look amazing, even though the art it will highlight will doubtless bring out my emperor-has-no-clothes view of most contemporary art. Bringing this to Bruton is either bonkers or brilliant or, more likely, a bit of both. Looking around I felt a bit like the time I ate spaghetti garnished with gold flakes in Tokyo in the late 1980s*. The point about this blog, though, is to say that a major art gallery in Bruton challenges the lazy stereotyping the Press indulges in. Somerset isn't just about floods, Glastonbury and cider. It's not just about history. Funnily enough, there's a lot going on hereabouts. We know restauranteurs, entrepreneurs and bon viveurs. We know more photographers, joiners, writers, cheese makers, traders, architects and lawyers than we do farmers, cider makers and monks. For the "countryside" to function we must continue to challenge Victorian perceptions of it and make it an economically viable, thriving and attractive environment. We have to adapt, if not unconditionally. Change for change's sake is a non-runner too. The same thought struck me when reading the latest report on climate change today. On this global scale it's more than a local economic challenge; we have to accept that times change and adapt to them. *The answer to the obvious question is yes.