Alice Workman of Bo Lee and Workman's Insider Guide to Bruton

Words by
Sphere Editors

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.

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 (pictured right) and Jemma Hickman insider guide to Bruton
Alice Workman (pictured right) with Jemma Hickman at their new gallery Bo Lee & Workman in Bruton

The highlights of my time at Hauser & Wirth for ten years include working with… Jenny Holzer, The Estate of Alexander Calder, Rashid Johnson and Don McCullin amongst others. 

Bo Lee and Workman
Faultlines 2022 by Jonathan Michael Ray

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.

Bo Lee and Workman Insider Guide to Bruton
Bo Lee and Workman Gallery within the converted Methodist Church

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.

Bo Lee and Workman
Works by Jonathan Michael Ray at Bo Lee and Workman's opening solo exhibition

We decided to open the gallery with a solo exhibition by Jonathan Michael Rayas 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.  

Jonathan Michael Ray
Jonathan Michael Ray, featured contemporary artist

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.

Jonathan Michael Ray
Jonathan Michael Ray, Pedestrian Scriptures

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.

Jonathan Michael Ray
Jonathan Michael Ray, Garden of Time

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.

Philo and Philo
Philo and Philo, Bruton

My favourite personal piece of art is a treasured print by Barbara Hepworth called Sun and Moon… which I was given a long time ago. I spent a lot of time getting to know her work and visiting her studios in St Ives through my early career in the art world.  

Barbara Hepworth Insider Guide to Bruton
Barbara Hepworth, Sun and Moon

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

At the Chapel
At The Chapel, Bruton

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!

Jenny Holzer
Neo-conceptual artist, Jenny Holzer

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.

One thing I have always wanted to do is visit Marfa in Texas… and the Chinati Foundation a museum based upon the ideas of its founder Donald Judd. I know I will take the trip there one day.

Chinati Foundation
The Chinati Foundation, Marfa Texas

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.

Piet Oudolf
Piet Oudolf, Dutch garden designer

My guiltiest pleasure… is the apple cinnamon buns at The Newt – they are addictive!

The Newt
Apple cinnamon bun at The Newt, Somerset

The next question on my mind is… what next? I can’t help thinking about the future.

Bo Lee and Workman