We built Hauser & Wirth in Bruton from scratch, transforming a set of dilapidated buildings into a global arts destination over a decade, hence my insider guide to Bruton. I loved the way the gallery, architecture, garden and restaurant in Bruton were all physically linked to create a perfect space to host a hub of activity for schools, the community and wider art loving audience. I was also fortunate to spend time working on projects in Menorca and San Sebastian where I worked with great colleagues to help create interesting places to see art.
Alice Workman of Bo Lee and Workman's Insider Guide to Bruton
8th June 2023
SPHERE meets Alice Workman the former senior director at Hauser & Wirth, who sheds light on her stunning new gallery Bo Lee and Workman created with Jemma Hickman. She shares her insider guide to Bruton and her favourite haunts in England's most stylish destination for culture vultures.
With the new gallery, created together with Jemma Hickman of Bo Lee Gallery… we’ve transformed another building in Bruton, a former Methodist Church. The Church makes a wonderful gallery as it has high ceilings and the most beautiful light. Churches are also naturally a place to sit, think and contemplate and so a perfect place to view art.
My insider guide to Bruton
Our gallery had to be in Bruton… it has been my home for over 10 years and there is such a brilliant cultural community here. I couldn’t have imagined it being anywhere else. I first came here in 2011 and it was a much quieter place but it always had a bubble of activity and wonderful people.
We decided to open the gallery with a solo exhibition by Jonathan Michael Ray… as he creates work from historic graffiti collected from churches and reclaimed fragments of stained glass. His work looks to the past, but at the same time is very contemporary and fresh.
Jemma and myself are also representing…a number of artists we admire. Kim Booker is a painter who currently has a studio at TKE Studios, established by Tracey Emin in Margate. She makes the most extraordinary self-reflective paintings which can bring out strong emotions in the viewer. We also represent Laura Ford who creates characterful child size figures from a range of textured fabrics. They can be humorous and fun, or sometimes more sinister and unnerving.
We worked with Bindloss Dawes Architects to… convert the Methodist Church into a gallery space. The architecture firm work internationally but are based in Bruton and happen to be my neighbours.
Over the years so many interesting creative businesses have moved to Bruton from designers to restaurants and interior shops…. Many friends run businesses on our street including Celia and Frankie who run interior shop Philo & Philo, Claudia and Aled who have the most wonderful hotel, No1 Bruton and Matt across the road from our house with his restaurant Matt’s Kitchen.
If you’re visiting Bruton this summer, the things I recommend everyone do are… a visit to The Newt for their wonderful gardens and a delicious cider or ice cream, as well as a trip to their farm shop for their local cheeses. Mid-week I visit The Newt’s Garden Café for brunch and in the evenings my husband and I walk down the road to The Old Pharmacy run by chef Merlin Labron-Johnson. On Saturday mornings we walk along to At the Chapel to buy bread and croissants with the children and often take a walk up to Hauser & Wirth Somerset to visit the very special garden designed by Piet Oudolf.
My personal style signifier is navy blue – I wear it every day and pair it with bright colours for parties and events, or a white blouse and trainers for work.
My all-time favourite artist is Jenny Holzer... Her work is extraordinary and so thought provoking. She is also incredibly nice and very cool!
The best gift I have ever been given is a ring from my husband to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary… The ring spells ‘love’ and is designed by Solange Azagury-Partridge who lives near Bruton.
The music I keep going back to is… Benjamin Britten’s Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra. It is a piece of music which has been with me since childhood.
The book I’m currently obsessed with… is Piet Oudolf’s new book At Work. I adore his choice of plants and style of planting.