I’ve just got back from my first trip to Hauser & Wirth Somerset – the latest addition to the international Hauser & Wirth gallery chain, housed in a converted farm on the edge of Bruton. It’s home to some fantastic exhibition spaces, as well as a restaurant, a shop and a holiday let, but for me the most intriguing feature is the Oudolf Field.
The work of influential Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, who has created schemes for the Serpentine Gallery in London and The High Line in New York, this meadow of wildflowers, perennials and long grasses spreads out behind the farm. It looks almost like a painting, with soft waves of colour and texture that draw your eye out to the fields beyond. Paths weave in and out of the vegetation, which is alive with bees and butterflies, and a mirror-like pool at one end reflects stalks swaying in the breeze.
The garden is planted so that, at any one time, the beds showcase flowers at various stages of their lifecycle, from full blooms to withering petals. It’s a fascinating concept and creates a space full of contrasts and visual interest, where death is as present as life.
Inside the gallery, a large space is dedicated to displaying Oudolf’s conceptual sketches and preparatory drawings. They’re all hand-drawn, with a patchwork of coloured blocks depicting swathes of different plants, and resemble works of art in their own right – well worth a look, and for me almost as striking as the end result on show outside.
For more information and opening times visit www.hauserwirthsomerset.com.
All photography by Abi Dare