Animation of celebration of Arts Council award

Winter 2021

Since our final Deep Roots Festival weekend in September, we have been delighted, and even humbled, to receive splendid reviews of the festival’s events. We have made these available to all to read: follow this link to our Deep Roots Festival pages! Many thanks to everyone who took the time and trouble to review our events.

We’d also like to thank the audiences who came to our live in person and our Zoom events; one of which was a brilliant online painting demonstration with successful local artist, Hester Berry. We were all in awe as she painted her self-portrait for us live on screen, answering questions from an interested audience throughout the session!

Hester Berry Self Portrait
Hester Berry Self Portrait

Our talks at Quince Honey Farm were enlightening, but a little sobering. Myc Riggulsford gave us a talk on Natural Capital, in his words: “The way we measure our economy doesn’t value an oak tree until it’s cut down and turned into timber for building, or burned as firewood, but that tree may have had a much deeper meaning for the local community, whose ancestors went courting under its branches for several hundred years. From 2020 the government was supposed to be including Natural Capital alongside Gross Domestic Product in the way we measure our economy, so has that oak tree now got a price?” 

Myc Riggulsford at Quince Honey Farm

Yet our audience members managed to salvage hope by considering the small, individual acts that we can all take part in to combat climate change. It was a very relevant talk, particularly as the UK was about host to UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

We also saw the culmination of our two community poetry and film projects, ‘Capturing South Molton in Your Words & Images’ by Gordon McKerrow and Katy Lee’s ‘Ode to the Ash Tree Poetry Project’. Gordon presented the legacy film for our town in a screening with a packed audience in South Molton Assembly Rooms. There were introductions by the town’s Mayor, Mervyn Way, and the film’s sponsor, Adam Crispin of Home Instead, North Devon & Exmoor. Having engaged with the local community, Gordon had received many drawings, paintings, music, words and poems, as well as making recorded readings: all included in the film.

Film Premiere South Molton Assembly Rooms
Film Premiere in the South Molton Assembly Rooms
Left to Right – South Molton Mayor Mervyn Way, Devon County Councillor Jeremey Yabsley, Selaine Saxby MP, Arts Destination Trustees Stella Levy and Alison Verney, Adam Crispin from Home Instead North Devon and Exmoor who sponsored the film and Gordon McKerrow who created it
Katy Lee at the Quince Honey Farm Hexagon
Katy Lee at the Quince Honey Farm answering questions about the
Ode to the Ash Tree Poetry Project

Katy’s poetry project was aimed at highlighting Ash Dieback Disease, with all age groups involved: a pen-pal scheme between Eastleigh Care Homes residents and schoolchildren worked well, even with Covid restrictions still in place. In South Molton Community Woodlands, twenty short films of Katy performing poems contributed by project participants were made; visitors to the woodlands could actually view them in situ via a QR Code!

Ash Die Back
Ash Die-back

In October Arts Destination South Molton (ADSM) were invited to collaborate with South Molton Business Association (SMBA) to provide art-inspired ideas for inclusions in SMBA’s ‘Winter Wonderland by Day’ event. So ADSM will bring a new arts event to the town,Fun with Arts‘. It will take place in the Assembly Rooms on Sunday, 5th December, from 10am to 3pm.

ADSM has invited local artists and makers to display, sell and demonstrate their artwork and, in particular, to encourage families – and everyone – to join in with fun Christmassy arts activities. Fun with Arts‘ will be a brilliant way to meet and chat with the artists and makers, see how their art is created and have a go yourself!

During our ‘Fun with Arts day, as well as showing a display of the real life contributions of community members to our legacy film, we are offering further opportunities to view ‘Capturing South Molton in Your Words & Images’ – and to meet the filmmaker himself, Gordon McKerrow. Do tell your friends and family in case they missed the September première.

Put the 5th December in your diary!

We look forward to meeting you at Fun with Arts on the ‘Winter Wonderland by Day’.


Summer 2021

Views from our Deep Roots Festival

Arts Destination South Molton, undaunted by the impossibility of holding a live fun-filled festival weekend this year – to be based on our already well-developed plans for 2020 (also cancelled “beyond our control”!) – has managed an “opening-up” series of festival weekends this year. Deep Roots Festival in June was all online; the one in July was socially distanced, and we are hoping that for most of our September weekend our audiences will be as we normally expect them!

All online events in June – also positively known as watching from the comfort of your own home with your family and pets around you – included the TV comedian Patrick Monahan, who performed a unique show especially for us in South Molton from the comfort of his London house with his pet dog, Pedro, for company. The long-haired cat in Roborough – and the black and white cat with its family of four – differed greatly in their attitude to the show: one showing remarkable perkiness throughout and the other sleeping all the time! This was not unremarked by Patrick, who used it to comic effect!

Another of our exciting Zooms showcased two local musicians, Jo Preston and Tom Bayliss playing as a trio with Art Destination South Molton’s patron, the acclaimed flautist, Ashley Solomon, on the edge of Exmoor in musician Lorraine Homewood’s stunning Roundhouse. It was a sunny, lively, and, even emotional, evening: the range of classical music in differing combinations of piano, recorder and flute across the centuries and from around the world stirred deep feelings and gave great pleasure. All the music was enhanced by warm, well-chosen and easily accessible introductions to the pieces.

Ashley Solomon and Friends
Photo by Karolina Andreasova

We were also royally entertained and entranced by nationally famous performance poet, Liv Toc, who renamed us all and got us to write our own haikus online; informed and enlightened by the Silver Dagger award-winning crime author, Ann Cleeves, who told us, amongst other literary morsels, about her two latest novels set in North Devon – The Long Call and The Heron’s Cry; and intrigued and fascinated by the young Devon dancer Maya Bodiley’s film, Speaking in Tongues, which she not only choreographed but also filmed in Northern Spain – and edited, especially for our show!

Socially distanced in July: we managed two fascinating presentations in the marvellous setting of the Hexagon at Quince Honey Farm. The rough-hewn wood building in its setting in the midst of untamed gardens, chimed with our rural aspirations for the festival, as did the talks. The first by science and environmental journalist Myc Riggulsford and the second, given by Head Gardener at Quince, Pip Howard. Both talked about trees; Myc about the ancient Charter of the Forest and its relevance today, and Pip about the importance of trees in our landscape generally, and to bees in particular.

Quince Audience
Pip Howard Quince

This was succeeded by Old Favourites, poetry presented by Dr Richard Westcott; which was a Deep Roots Festival/South Molton Library collaboration. The audience of 14 were super keen and friendly; all arrived early – clearly excited to be at An Event! The Garden Room, in the Amory Centre, worked perfectly as an intimate, but well-ventilated, Covid-safe venue. Without exception the audience came away very happy: one respondent said it was perfect, another enjoyed it enormously, one said it should have been longer! Thanks to Richard for generating such joy: “Old Favourites” was a very positive experience and left everyone with merrier hearts and smiles on their faces.

Richard Westcott reading poetry

We were exceedingly privileged to be able to hold a light-hearted, classical musical concert in the welcoming – and acoustically good – setting of South Molton Methodist Church. We were equally fortunate that the local wind quartet, Giocoso, agreed to play for us. The music they played was a playful as their name suggests: including Handel’s Water Music to an arrangement of English Country Gardens, a medley of melodies from Gilbert and Sullivan and to end with, a breathless-romp through Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture – complete with audience-fired canons, in the form of party poppers! All the excitement was topped off by a delicious cream tea.

For more details of these events follow these links: Deep Roots Festival June Events and Deep Roots Festival July Events.

In September: most audiences as we normally expect them!
On the evening of Monday 20th September, Hester Berry heralds the Festival online, with a Zoom portrait class.

On Saturday afternoon 25th September at South Molton Assembly Rooms, Gordon McKerrow will show the première of his film Capturing South Molton made by, with, and for South Moltonians. A cream tea will follow!

We return to the Hexagon at Quince Honey Farm on the morning of Sunday 26th September for another inspiring live talk by Myc Riggulsford; followed by “In Conversation” with Katy Lee, who will talk about her community-participating Ode to The Ash Tree Poetry Project and the book of poems which accompanies it.

Early on Sunday afternoon 26th Katy Lee will lead a group around the Community Woodlands to demonstrate her project in its setting.

Throughout the weekend Beth Pedlar will lead a two-day pet portrait workshop at Filleigh Village Hall.

On the evening of Monday 27th September our Festival season closes, online, with Exmoor artist, Luna North talking about her art and inspiration with local author, Claire Barker.

For more information click here.

Hester Berry
Capturing South Molton
Katy Lee

We hope to see you at one of our next events somewhere, sometime soon!


Spring 2021

Spring has well and truly sprung! With the fabulous weather bringing out the wealth of wildflowers in our gardens, hedgerows and woodlands, delighting all with their freshness and inspirational colours.

Plein Air painters have been noticed out on Exmoor and in our North Devon lanes, including local artists Luna North on Exmoor and Colin Allbrook. Over the lockdown period Colin has been painting a series of oil paintings, all based in the Taw Valley where he lives.

The team at Arts Destination South Molton has also been busy over the last year, holding a varied programme of Zoom events each month, the last event being a talk by the successful children’s writer, Claire Barker, who regaled her audience with stories and inspirations with great humour!

We are well into planning our flagship project, Deep Roots Festival, due to take place over three weekends this year, 11-13th June, 10-11th July and 25-26th September. The festival will be a combination of online and live events as we gradually enter into the lifting of Covid 19 restrictions.

One of the major community events within the festival is a film and poetry project, ‘Capturing South Molton in Words & Images’, sponsored by Home Instead, North Devon & Exmoor, being led by the Devon based poet, Rosie Jackson and filmmaker Gordon McKerrow. The local community are invited to submit their photos, words, drawings etc. on how they feel about living in, or around the market town of South Molton. These submissions will then be collated by Rosie and Gordon and formed into a poem and film to be shown publicly in South Molton Assembly Rooms later in the year. For details on how to join in please go here.

Deep Roots Festival offers events for all ages groups and tastes: classical, folk and popular music; poetry talks, readings and community projects; artist talks and demos; talks on the environmental; book readings; youth dance workshop etc. For information on events go to our Deep Roots Festival page or book tickets on our events page.

Please follow our Facebook page and join in discussions.


January 2021

Well… that’s it! Goodbye 2020.
And as we used to say at school, “Good riddance to bad rubbish”! But it hasn’t been all bad for ADSM.

Even the darkest month of the year brought us its silver lining. Not only in glorious cloud formations with their shimmering edges, or the abundance of very jolly, sparkling Christmas decorations around The Square and private houses all over town.

At ADSM, we rejoiced and marvelled not only the at glories of the winter skies and the lights of the festive season, but in an artistic treat which brought joy to our hearts and smiles to our lips – local printmaker Judith Westcott’s presentation of her work.

For three quarters of an hour, one evening at the beginning of December, Judith amazed, entertained and fascinated us with tales of her inspiration, demonstrations of the stages she goes through to make her work, and explaining collaborations with other artists (known collectively as Pine Feroda) to create enormous, stunning prints – in which you can almost hear the roar of the winter seas and feel the wind and rain!

Judith’s Zoom event raised the bar for further ADSM Zoom productions – and the New Year programme bodes well with promises of kaleidoscopes of poetry and moonlit sonatas!

Join us if you can… and in the meantime, have a New Year filled with beauty of all sorts: music, friendship, family, nature, paintings and poetry … whatever brings you delight.