Another good year to report alongside a political background of ‘austerity’, cuts, shop closures, and Brexit uncertainty. Art, both its making and appreciating, continues to soothe and replenish body and soul, in my experience, and act as a absorbing counterweight to the other challenges daily life brings us.

I give thanks for SAGT’s existence and its potential to aid the wellbeing of others; for each of our members; and for our Committee’s readiness to be ‘hands on’ and provide  creative and appropriate leadership.

Our 2018-2019 programme, printed once again by Mail Boxes, had breadth and balance and was successfully carried out. We provided four evening talks and one presentation followed by discussion on Public Art (all in the Conference Centre, Bridgwater and Taunton College); a March coffee morning raised money (thank you Christine Marsh); two painting days both based on local churches; an AGM, after which five members spoke of a favourite work of art; and a large Exhibition of members’ work at the Brewhouse, featuring  27 artists. The Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Anne Maw opened the Private View, shared her  passion for art, and later agreed to be our President, to our delight. During SAW four of us  visited Andrew Bell’s studio and talked with him over Tea; and mid-December we  met for Christmas lunch at the College’s Quantock Restaurant, so rounding off 2018.

We understand that we are to be invited back by the Brewhouse in 2020 to host another exhibition of members’ work. Thanks to our raising the subject, it will now be easier for our artists to receive their payments for works sold. One other change: our art will only be shown in their Gallery, as there is now a Café serving the old foyer. However the advantage of that concentration of art is that visitors will know where to find the art and be able to look and enjoy it without other distractions.

We also completed negotiations with Tom Mayberry, of the South West Heritage Trust, to store the art works in our permanent collection at the Heritage Centre with the freedom to display them when occasions arise. I delivered six works for storage earlier this year. Since then we have acquired Mike Tarr’s Glimpse Vesuvius and a still life by Geoffrey Bailey. Our thanks to them.

To keep in touch with you, and the wider art world, we published regular Newsletters (nos 53-59). Our thanks to Anna Mullett for her editing and for distributing them and other information to you. Our thanks also to Toby Veale, our website keeper, for his advice and skill. Dexterous Designs, for whom he works, have again sponsored this aspect of our life.

We  had to find another venue for our art talks as the Conference Centre’s future was in doubt. We could not afford their actual hire price but are most grateful for their inclusion of us over the years and for the fliers and posters they subsidised. Trull Church Community Centre is booked for this year, and gladly provides both what we need and the profit we’d hoped to be making.

With sadness I record the deaths of Ken Grieb, Adrian Campbell, Stella Murray- Whatley and Jean Hobbs, all of whom have supported us in various ways and left us with a legacy of art or benefaction. Stella served as our President. Adrian Campbell, whose funeral has just taken place, collected wise sayings, including a Chief Rabbi’s: ‘The purpose of art is the re-enchantment of  a disenchanted world.’ May we be bringers of re-enchantment in the coming year and beyond!

Jeremy Harvey, Chairman

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