Friday, 5 March 2010

Spring green show at Otterton Mill

Flour milling machinery at Otterton Mill

We always enjoy walking north from Budleigh Salterton along the River Otter, learning slowly about birds as we go. An exciting moment came a few days ago when what I dumbly assumed was a flock of pigeons settling on the water meadows turned out to be a crowd of curlews.

And after a few miles there's the wonderful and ancient Otterton Mill to explore, with its restored mill machinery, flour milling, art galleries, shop, café and restaurant.

The Mill, run by Simon and Caroline Spiller, is proud of its strong traditions of local sourcing and environmental conservation so I wasn't surprised to see that last November it was one of four finalists in the Food and Farming category of The Devon Environmental Business Initiative (DEBI). This networking organisation, supported by bodies like the Environment Agency, The Met Office, Devon County Council and South West Water has been recognising Devon based businesses with strong environmental practices for almost 20 years.

So after being recognised again as one of the 'greenest' businesses in Devon it's only natural that the Mill is staging an exhibition of West Country artists who use recycled objects and materials to create their art. Taking what other people might consider to be rubbish, they use their inventiveness and imagination to produce something beautiful. "This is an exhibition that will open your mind," say Simon and Caroline.

Above: The Mill Gallery

'A bar in Berlin' standard lamp, an assemblage by artist Veronica Gosling

Exhibitors include Veronica Gosling who works with sculpture, assemblage and pottery decoration.

Veronica Gosling went to school in America and England, worked as a journalist for a short while, married psychiatrist Robert Gosling, brought up five children, and published five novels before the family moved from London to the Forest of Dean where she took up sculpture, assemblage and pottery decoration. She started and ran an informal gallery, The Barn at Hay Farm, inviting other artists to show imaginative and experimental work.

She now has GALLERY 36 in Exeter with similar emphasis but has added a sculpture garden. Her art is humorous, quirky and a real talking point, always imaginative and often experimental.

This well-known piece of work by Jane Perkins depicting President Obama is currently on display in a London gallery

Alongside Veronica's work will be that of Jane Perkins who describes herself as a re-maker who loves art with an element of the fun and unexpected. Having worked for 17 years as a nurse and 10 years as a Mum at home, she took a degree in textiles at Somerset College of Arts and Technology, graduating with a First in 2006.

Her richly decorated 'Memory Brooches' use broken jewellery, plastic toys and other small found objects.
"Inspiration came from festival headdresses from Ecuador discovered while researching my thesis on art from recycled materials. The headdresses, covered with all kinds of shiny and odd things, are bizarre and quirky, yet beautiful - I love them!" she says.

Since 2008 she has been making iconic Pop Art-style portraits of the famous, including Barack Obama, Madonna and the Queen, composed of thousands of bits of bric-à-brac foraged from recycling centres.

The exhibition runs from Saturday 6 March to Monday 19 April and is housed within the exhibition space of the Mill Gallery on the first floor of the historic Mill building. The artworks are displayed against the backdrop of the ancient Mill workings. Entry is free.

For more information about Otterton Mill, click on
Jane Perkins' website is at
For Veronica Gosling see and

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