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Supporting 3D artists

2017 The Ruth Tait Award for Young Sculptors

In 2017 the Friends ran an award for young graduate sculptors. This award was designed to provide a challenging real life design, commissioning and exhibition experience to a relatively inexperienced sculptor. Applicants were required to demonstrate an understanding of how to design in a form and at a scale that responds sensitively to a given site. They had also to demonstrate that they have a realistic assessment of the time and material costs involved in turning concept sketches into a high quality finished sculpture. The award was presented to Bristol based artist Alice Jennings.

Alice Jennings, Cumulus Alice Jennings     (Winner of the Ruth Tait Award 2017)


Our award in 2015 aimed to extend the professional practice of 3D artists by funding an artist to explore working in a medium other than their own. We were able to offer professional mentoring in either metal or glass. Applications were invited from any artist resident or with a workshop in Wiltshire. Three artists were shortlisted by the panel of judges: textile artist Anna Glasbrook and ceramic artists Sarah Purvey and Philippa Macarthur. These three staged a group show at Pound Arts, Corsham, where they exhibited their current work together with material that illustrated their ideas for extending their practice in a new direction.

The bursary was awarded to Anna Glasbrook. Anna used her bursary to explore a range of glassmaking techniques at the Glass Hub in Wingfield. As a result of this experience Anna has developed an understanding of how glass might be used in her current approach to making 3D textile installations. This would allow her to extend her practice by making installations for both outdoor and indoor settings.

The piece shown on the left below is one of Anna’s light boxes using vibrant stitched ribbon. The piece on the right shows an experimental test piece made during her time at the Glass Hub.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Anna Glasbrook


Following our 2012 exhibition we announced the Althea Wynne Bursary competition. Althea was a prominent sculptor who had been unstinting in her support and encouragement to us. We were deeply shocked by her sudden death shortly prior to our 2012 exhibition opening and wanted to remember her in a way that recognised her generosity in supporting younger artist. We were delighted to work with her daughter, the glass artist Ruth Dresman, in planning and taking forward a bursary in Althea’s name. The award, for a Wiltshire sculptor to commission a professional photographer to take promotional images of his or her work, was won by Bull Mill Arts based artist Olivia Clifton-Bligh. We have been thrilled with the way Olivia has developed this commission in order to significantly raise her professional profile both in the County and beyond. We were also pleased to be able to support some of the shortlisted artists by including their work in our 2014 exhibition. The images below show Olivia in her studio and one of her bronze long dog sculptures.
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Olivia Clifton-Bligh


The art project associated with our 2009 exhibition involved raising funds from Community First's 'Sustain the Plain' programme to fund two artists Fenella Elms and Isabelle Van Lennep to work with women from the Tidworth army base to create a piece of sculpture in the grounds. This involved creating ceramic drawers that slotted in to a large fallen log in the grounds of Urchfont Manor. Each of the women involved then selected a natural shape from the garden and expressed that in clay with each piece fired and placed in one of the drawers. Visitors to the 2009 exhibition were encouraged to open these drawers to discover the small pieces inside. Many did so and some added their own touch by complementing a display with perhaps a feather or a leaf picked up in the grounds.


As part of our planning for the 2007 exhibition the Friends obtained a grant to commission Toni Robinson and Gordon Dickenson of ‘no added sugar’ to work with special needs pupils from Rowdeford School. Gordon worked with these young people to design and weld a steel ‘green man’ which looked out over the walled garden at Urchfont Manor. Toni worked in clay and helped the students to make clay ‘green men’ faces for the Friends as well as other clay figures which they took home. These fired clay green men have since made an appearance at each of our exhibitions. See also

Following the 2007 exhibition the Friends raised funds to rebuild the greenhouse at Urchfont Manor. As part of that rebuild we commissioned two artists, letter designer Caroline Webb and glass artist Sasha Ward to supply artwork for installation in the new building.