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YO U R GU I D E TO E VE RY TH I N G FR O M E

ISSUE 124

JULY 2021

Festival Fever - The Return of Frome’s Biggest Event

ARTISTS OF FROME - AMANDA BEE

years of

FROME’S ART CENTRE


ISSUE 124 JULY 2021

Rose Langley I tried very long and hard to be an artist. I studied stained glass, sculpture, jewellery making, metal work, ceramics, painting and life drawing. Whilst my enthusiasm was not in doubt, alas my talent was in short supply. I was better at organising exhibitions for my friends. And once I had finally acknowledged this, my poor parents must have given a huge sigh of relief, as it meant they no longer had to be enthusiastic recipients of my latest creations.

to be an art lover is to understand something of the beauty of our existence. But my love affair with art never stopped. I always remember, when I was studying in London (yet another art course) I started spending a lot of time at Tate Modern. They had a permanent exhibition by an artist called Yves Klein. All his work was blue. Some of it was literally just a blue canvas. Exactly the kind of work which infuriates the anti-conceptual mob. But what a blue! Like a powder you could dive in to. It felt like it vibrated when you looked at it. And he had created it – the perfect blue (look it up: it’s called Klein Blue). And the Barbara Hepworth sculptures blew my mind. They were so perfect and so still but full of movement and soul. I think about them often.

» The List Recommends » Cover story » Food With Folk Recipe

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» Artists Of Frome

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» House & Home

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» Health & Wellbeing

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» The Frome Fossil

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Why am I telling you all this? Well, because I think art is important. It is life, reflected back at us. And to be an art lover is to understand something of the beauty of our existence. But to be an art lover you don’t need to be arty. You don’t have to have gone to art school, visited numerous galleries, or perfected an habitual chin stroke. Art really is for everyone, because it is everywhere - from the pattern on your curtains to your favourite film, the music you listen to and the birthday card you sent. Artists, like a society of sneaky freemasons, are behind the vast majority of everyday things which bring us joy. Think about what comedy you like. It could be a stand up comedian, or a sitcom, a film, a radio show, a book. Good comedy is an art form. It makes us observe our world anew, and it gets inside us and makes us feel. The same goes for music. Do you have a song that makes you cry? Or an album you always play to lift your mood? Mine is Hunky Dory by David Bowie. It’s probably rather obvious, but when I hear it, I never fail to feel happier. And this is the power of art, and the reason that, I think, everyone loves art, even if they don’t think they do. So think on this – if art is everywhere, and everyone is an art lover, where would we be without it? Thankfully, here in Frome, we’ll never have to find out.

Design: blackinkstudio.co.uk Front cover: Black Swan Arts Cover credit: Dan Hopkins Copy deadline for the August issue: July 16th

Published by Rose Langley, trading as Make a List Publishing, Sole Proprietor Editor Rose Langley 07957878717 rose@thelistfrome.co.uk . thelistfrome.co.uk *The publishers shall not be liable for any loss occasioned by the failure of an advertisement to appear, or any damage or inconvenience caused by errors, omissions or misprints.


» the list recommends «

Jon Pickard ‘Harp-Guitar’

Frome Poetry Café … In The Stones

4th July / The Silk Mill / £9

6th July / Merlin Amphitheatre / 8pm / £5

Internationally acclaimed composer and experimental guitarist Jon Pickard will be sharing his beautiful music – played mostly on an amazing, and very rare, 23 string ‘Classical Harp- Guitar’. Jon takes the audience on a fascinating journey through classical, Celtic and Spanish guitar into the magical ‘New Worlds’ of the Harp- Guitar. Jon is one of only a handful of performers on this instrument in the UK, and the only one who designs his own. Combined with crafted storytelling, each tune comes alive and takes the listener to a beautiful and unexpected place full of imagination. Jon will play two concerts: at 1:30pm and again at 7.30pm. Tickets via: www.cheeseandgrain.com

Frome Poetry Cafe began 21 years ago with the first Frome Festival, and continued ever since as a firm favourite with audiences in its venue at the Garden Cafe. This year’s change of location will be a big one for the iconic Poetry Cafe’s many fans (rugs and perhaps umbrellas may be needed). But the spirit of the Cafe remains the same: low cost and high enjoyment, with a brilliant guest - the fabulous Liv Torc - and the popular Open Mic for audience poems, with a few spot-prizes gifted by Hunting Raven and Frome Wholefoods.

‘Chromatica’ an exhibition by Amanda Bee & Clare Lloyd 26th June – August 7th – The WHY Gallery   Artist Amanda Bee and jeweller Clare Lloyd collaborate on an exhibition inspired by using a limited palette of pigment powders in their work. Amanda is using the pigments as either acrylics or oils to explore local landscapes. Clare is mixing the pigments into her bead making to create statement jewellery pieces. The work produced will be linked by colour and connected to place. Using a limited palette will push each artist to explore the full potential of colour.   www.whygallery.co.uk 4

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FROME FESTIVAL EVENTS

Paul Foot in SWAN POWER SUNDAY 04 JULY - 8PM Jonny and the Baptists: DANCE LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED SATURDAY 03 JULY - 8PM ROB HERON AND THE TEA PAD ORCHESTRA FRIDAY 09 JULY - 8PM GEORGE EGG: MOVABLE FEAST SATURDAY 10 JULY - 7.30PM 01373 465949 merlintheatre.co.uk Bath Rd . Frome . BA11 2HG

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» the list recommends « Frome Festival The Show Will Go On 2nd - 11th July Despite the continuation of Covid restrictions , the Frome Festival will go ahead with most of its planned events between Friday the 2nd and Sunday 11th July, having made some important adjustments to the programme.   Headlining comedian Reginald D Hunter will still be playing at the Memorial Theatre on Friday 9th July with Jarred Christmas in support. Comedy songwriter and broadcaster Mitch Benn’s show on Monday 5th July at 8pm has now been moved from the Masonic Hall to the Silk Mill’s canopied outdoor stage to allow for the expected ticket demand.   

Headlining comedian Reginald D Hunter will still be playing at the Memorial Theatre on Friday 9th July

free entry every night to the fabulous new Marston Park glamping site near Tytherington, where there will be entertainment, bars and food available, in an open or canvasroofed setting. Paul Foot

Sadly, due to continuing government legislation on Covid 19 , the following events at the Cheese and Grain were too large scale to take place with reduced capacity: Lightning Seeds, Celebration for Frome with Active and in Touch, Scott Mills and Aswad.    The Frome Festival had already decided against the annual Food Feast in the Market Yard due to the usual crowds attending. But there is free entry every night to the fabulous new Marston Park glamping site near Tytherington, where there will be entertainment, bars and food available, in an open or canvas- roofed setting. Other outdoor events will also take place at the Green Heart space at Chesterblade Hills.  

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» the list recommends « Shows will continue at the Ecos Amphitheatre and the Merlin Theatre every night with some fantastic  acts. Comedian Paul Foot has only a few tickets left so early booking is advised. Tickets for most events are available from the Cheese and Grain box office, or through the Merlin Theatre website.

budget. Rain or shine- it will be a great festival.” Ecos Amphitheatre

“an opportunity to try something different this year, with new outdoor venues and more free entertainment in public spaces.”

cafes and bars around the region. All updates will be posted on the Festival website: www.fromefestival.co.uk Festival Creative Director Martin Dimery hailed the Festival as “an opportunity to try something different this year, with new outdoor venues and more free entertainment in public spaces. This has been due in part to the public fundraiser we launched last year during lockdown, enabling us to subsidise many events that would otherwise have been beyond our

There is also a massive family fun day featuring outdoor entertainment at Frome Football Club on Sunday 4th July. On the same day, St. Leonards Church in Marston Bigot makes its debut as a Festival venue with concerts including the wonderful Daisy Chapman. At the time of going to press, at least 90 live events are still scheduled along with exhibitions. Free pop-up shows are appearing in the town centre and in Victoria Park.   Brochures are available from

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FRIDAY 2ND SUNDAY 11TH JULY REGINALD D HUNTER / PAUL FOOT / JOHN HEGLEY 20TH ANNIVERSARY FESTIVAL EXHIBITION / MITCH BENN GEORGE EGG / JUSTIN ADAMS / The Fabulous Red Diesel Rob Heron & The Tea pad Orchestra / Jonny and the Baptists Outdoor Stages, Hidden Gardens, Open Art Trail, Frome Tunnels, Classical concerts, walks, talks, poetry, literary events, drama and so much more...

www.fromefestival.co.uk or follow us on facebook

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» the list recommends « We Feed the World Globally Celebrated Photographic Exhibition Comes to Frome On 2nd July a global photographic exhibition featuring the smallholder farmers and fisherfolk who feed the world will be opening its doors across two Frome arts venues. We Feed the World goes on display in a brand-new multi-functional art space, the Gallery at The Station, alongside the well-known Whittox Gallery. The exhibition marks the first public display since visitors on London’s Southbank enjoyed a ten-day exhibition in Autumn 2018. We Feed the World was coordinated by UK-based charity The Gaia Foundation to challenge the myth that we need industrial agriculture and quickfix technologies to feed the world. It also shares the moving stories of the small-scale farmers who produce over 70% of the world’s food whilst improving soil fertility and working with, not against, nature. Rowan Phillimore, Deputy Director of The Gaia Foundation and fellow Frome resident added, “We’re thrilled that We Feed the World is coming to the south-west and that these moving portraits and stories will be seen outside London. The issues that the exhibition casts light on are some of the most critical of this time – how do we feed the world and

GEORGE EGG: MOVEABLE FEAST 10 July / The Merlin Theatre / 7.30pm / £14.50 Here’s an evening of live cooking and laugh-out-loud comedy about making food on the move. George demonstrates ways to procure items from the train buffet trolley, beat the rip-off restaurant prices at the airport and how to turn unexpected road-works into a picnic. It’s cheeky, anarchic and creative, a multisensory show rich in humour and sprinkled with handy hacks. Real gourmet food cooked live in the most unconventional ways and with the opportunity to taste the results at the end, provided you can stop laughing. “…a culinary Bill Bailey, with chopping boards instead of keyboards. It is a multi-sensory delight” The Scotsman 8

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nurture the planet? Regenerative farming practices cool the planet, increase soil fertility and hold community at their heart. We’ll be collaborating with local growers, authors and activists including Vallis Veg farmer and author Chris Smaje, to bring these issues to life through a series of events in the exhibition spaces.” We Feed the World will open at the Gallery at The Station and the Whittox Gallery on 2nd July to the end of August. Further information about the exhibition and works can be found at https://www. gaiafoundation.org/wefeedtheworld/ Gallery at The Station Station Approach, Frome, BA11 1RE Whittox Gallery Rise, Whittox Lane, Frome, BA11 3BY


NOW OPEN Taking bookings Tuesday – Saturday from 5:30pm FUSION FOOD CREATIVE COCKTAILS NEW SEASONAL MENUS LAUNCHED EVERY WEEK See online for details

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» the list recommends « Scummy Mummies

Rode Comedy Festival 9th – 12th September The line-up has been announced for Rode Comedy Festival 2021, with tickets just released. The exciting series of shows, featuring big names of comedy, and an Olivier Award-winning West End show, solidifies the small festival’s reputation. Now in its second year, it continues to punch well above its weight. Each show takes place in the open air, beneath a stretch tent in a beautiful Somerset field. The festical kicks off on Thursday 9th September with the award-winning Showstopper! The Musical, with an improvised and intimate performance of their West End show. The Showstoppers create a brand-new musical comedy from scratch, transformingaudience suggestions on the spot into all-singing, all-dancing productions with hilarious results. Friday night will see the return of the hilarious Scummy Mummies, with their brand-new show, and support from rising comedy star Daisy Earl. On to Saturday night, and the Festival presents TV superstar presenter, comedian and best-selling author Joel Dommett, with his new show. To close the festival on Sunday night, Jarred Christmas and beatboxer Hobbit will join forces to host an amazing line-up featuring comedy legend Stephen K Amos, star of Taskmaster and Man Down, Mike Wozniak and surreal genius Spencer Jones. Each event will

be hosted by Kiwi Somerset local and multi-awardwinning comedian Jarred Christmas. Rode Comedy Festival was launched last September in response to the catastrophic effects of the pandemic on the comedy industry. Amelia and Jarred Christmas, the duo behind Pop-Up Comedy, saw an opportunity to run a small and accessible open-air, Covid- safe comedy festival, making up for months of restrictions on performances, and large events. Working with their friends Emma and James Burton at Pitch Perfect Camping, and the team at The Cross Keys Rode, the festival was a sell-out success. PopUp Comedy run comedy shows throughout the area and further afield in lovely village pubs, theatres and more unexpected venues. As well as Rode Comedy Festival, they have a programme of open-air comedy shows throughout the summer. You can book tickets for the festival, and other summer shows at: popupcomedy.org.

9th - 11th JULY 2021 10.30-5.00pm

Frome Hidden Gardens 9-11th July / 10.30-5.00p.m As part of the Frome Festival, Frome Hidden Gardens allows visitors to visit, and nose around, Frome’s delightful and varied gardens. This year thirty-three gardens will be open, and visitors pay £5 for access to them all. Saunter amongst the plants and while away the afternoon with tea and cake. Chat to your hosts about the intricacies of composts or the annoyance of bugs. Soak up the sun and fresh air while you consider the purchase of a plant or two. Most of all enjoy getting out and about. Those with limited mobility can access many of the gardens – check online. Tickets from the Box Office Cheese and Grain or online at fromefestival.co.uk 

FROME FESTIVAL

HIDDEN GARDENS

£5 PER PERSON

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UNDER 12’S FREE GUIDE DOGS ONLY

FROME FESTIVAL 2021


RODE COMEDY FESTIVAL 9-12 September 2021

Book your tickets at: www.popupcomedy.org Four nights of top comedy, open air, beneath canvas, in a beautiful field near Frome. Line-up includes:

Mike Wozniak

Stephen K Amos

the Scummy Mummies

Joel Dommett

Showstopper the Musical

AUSTRALIAN INFLUENCED EATERY private catering available 14 king st frome ba11 1bh

SUMMER READS 2021 Come and choose from 12 of the very best fiction and non-fiction paperback titles each with £2 OFF!

seating inside and out

Come in and browse or order online at www.shop.winstonebooks.co.uk

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T: 01373 473111 E: winstonebooks3@gmail.com 9-10 Cheap St | Frome | Somerset | BA11 1BN

superfood smoothies, cold press juices, specialty coffee, poke bowls, buddha bowls, acai smoothie bowls, sweet treats. nooktheshop.co.uk

01373 471368

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» the list recommends « Alexandra Brown

Frome Open Art Trail 3-11th July During the Frome Festival, emerging and established local artists and makers open their studios, homes and venues to show and sell their work. The event is a treat for art lovers and an excellent way of meeting artists, and supporting Frome’s creative community. Open both Festival weekends, with many artists opening during the week, this is a wonderful opportunity to find original and individual pieces of art. Discover paintings, sculpture, textiles, glass, ceramics, jewellery and so much more. The Art Trail is now a highlight of the Frome Festival. Alongside the venues on the Trail there will be a selection of work from the artists and makers at Black Swan Arts. Free Art Trail Brochures are available in a variety of places including the Cheese & Grain, Black Swan Arts, the Library and the Town Hall, plus many shops and cafés in Frome and surrounding villages. You can also download the brochure here: frome-open-art-trail.co.uk

galleries | round tower | studios | shop | cafe 2 Bridge St . Frome . BA11 1BB | 01373 473980 Thu - Sun 10am - 4pm | FREE ENTRY

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www.blackswanarts.org.uk Registered Charity No.292463


YOUR SOMERSET STAYCATION AT NESTA CAMPING

N

esta Camping at Critchill Manor, offer the ultimate escape without the hassle of travel. The team at Nesta would normally be organising festivals at this time of year, instead they have created a little haven in the heart of the west country, where festival magic meets luxury

a selection of wine and beer. The on-site bistro will offer fresh summer fare, a select choice of vegan and vegetarian dishes, as well as slow cooked local meats from the wood-fired smoker.

camping. With foreign holidays looking unfeasible, staycations are a great alternative this summer, and at Nesta guests can stay in the beautiful handmade yurts, whilst non-residents will also be able to indulge in the full, luxuriant experience.

tub, nestled in a secluded woodland (hot showers and changing rooms are available), book a dinner for two, or enjoy a yoga brunch. For parents of little ones, there is an onsite forest school run by Wild Tribe Forest School (apiwildcraft@gmail.com), perfect while you enjoy a massage or yoga session.

The Big Red Bus has also arrived in Nesta. From London to Bahgdad via Shambala Festival, this bar certainly has some stories to tell. Live entertainment and ambient music will set the scene at the weekend. This welcome addition to Frome is the perfect place to kick back, relax and enjoy a cocktail or two. The bus will also be pouring locally sourced cider and

If you need to unwind you can book a wood-fired hot

As a reader of The List Frome, you’re eligible for a discount. When booking (a minimum 2 night stay) use OFFER20 TO GET 20% OFF YURTS. Groups of over 8 or more get 25% off. Call Jeff Luther on 07855 125 155 to discuss. For more information nestacamping.co.uk

Your Somerset Staycation nestacamping.co.uk

Your Somerset Staycation With foreign holidays looking unfeasible, staycations are a great alternative this

as well as slow cooked local meats from THE LIST FROME the wood fired smoker. Enjoy the intimate entertainment as you dine, from guest and

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CELEBRATING 35 YEARS OF FROME’S COMMUNITY ARTS CENTRE

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“Black Swan Arts is always hungry for creative ideas from people who wish to use the space, or get involved in its running.” You might be surprised to hear that Black Swan Arts is run mostly by a small team of committed volunteers, who are passionate about ensuring that this arts space is accessible to all.  Black Swan Art’s centre manager, Emma Warren, is infectiously enthusiastic about the Frome arts scene and is encouraging locals to get out and get involved to ensure its future survival. She says “Please support Frome’s creative venues - our theatres, cinema, galleries, studios and 14

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C o ve r S t o r y

Liz Badger house leather

ack in the early Eighties, a small group of likeminded people raised funds to repair the Black Swan Inn and open an Arts Centre. It was an opportunity to create employment for young people during restoration, host a dynamic range of exhibitions and provide affordable studios where emerging artists could work and sell to the public. Thirty-five years later, the aims remain as relevant today as they were in 1986 when Frome’s art centre opened its doors.

shops. Together we can find a way out of lockdown, connect again, achieve amazing things and ensure future generations benefit from our special town.” Black Swan Arts is open to all creatives, whether it is to put on a show, have a pop-up weekend in the Round Tower, join  their  management  board, or volunteer time or expertise. Black Swan Arts is always hungry for creative ideas from people who wish to use the space, or get involved in its running. From exhibitions and installations to fundraising projects and building maintenance, there is always something to do. So get in touch if you would like to be part of the friendly team and give something back to your community.


Black Swan Arts has a wonderful group of residents in their studios. They are: Jo Joof Designs: Illustration and drawing workshops for all ages. Award-winning Crinkly Cloth Books.

Jo Walton: Artist, oil painter and mixed media abstract landscapes. The Write Place: Creative spaces for writers to meet to write together. Daily and monthly events.

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Daniel Musselwhite: Handmade contemporary jewellery and workshops, ‘as seen on TV’.

op en

Badger House Leather: Unique handmade items, ethically sourced leather, teaching and workshops.

Black Swan Arts are looking for emerging and established artists to sell work in their new shop. Apply online via the website: blackswanarts.org.uk

Discover Frome: Tourist information point, maps, walks and Frome info. You can find information on studio residents, exhibitions and events at blackswanarts.org.uk

The River House at Black Swan ARTS

It’s been three months since The River House fled their nest on the Bridge and moved round to join Black Swan Arts. The two Frome institutions have been living side by side in creative café bliss since Easter 2021, and their coming together has proved a huge hit with locals.

“We’d outgrown the Bridge some time ago, but it was actually the pandemic that gave us the push we needed to grow into a bigger space” For The River House, the move could not have come at a better time. “We’d outgrown the Bridge some time ago, but it was actually the pandemic that gave us the push we needed to grow into a bigger space” says owner Ellen Porteous. “Finding a location to match the Bridge was never going to be easy, so we were over the moon to get the lease for the previous Black Swan

Café. It’s close enough to our roots and the river, but with a glorious garden and top tenants to share the arts centre with. We hope we’ve brought some new energy with our own colourful characters.” Despite their cosy and intimate location on the Bridge, social distancing and lack of outdoor area were reason enough for the River House team to find more spacious premises to bring their infamous blend of incredible coffee, tasty brunches and bubbly service to their Frome regulars. THE LIST FROME

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Let Them Eat Cake – recipes from our new resident foodie

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ISSUE 123

ISSUE 122 Festival Fever - The Return of Frome’s Biggest Event

JUNE 2021

ARTISTS OF FROME - AMANDA BEE

ARTISTS OF FROME - STEVEN JENKINS

FROME FESTIVAL

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Written in Frome - Books by Local Authors

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How Burrito Boi took Frome by storm

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ARTISTS OF FROME AMANDA BEE

“I’d love at some point to explore printmaking further – mono-printing is something I really love.”

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We talk to Amanda about her love of Cornwall and how it deeply inspires her work, her near miss as an animal hoarder and how she is the only person to come out of lockdown with a positive experience of Zoom. What is your artistic background? I completed a Foundation at Lincoln College of Art which allows you to experience different disciplines and then a Degree in Art and Social Context at UWE Bristol. By this point, after focussing on print-making at Lincoln, I had decided to explore oil painting. What made you follow this path? As a kid I was always drawing and painting. I remember saying when I was about five that I wanted to be an artist. I can’t remember wanting any other career. What is your physical creative process? What materials and techniques do you use? I’m a mixed media landscape painter so my main materials are acrylics, water soluble crayons and pencils, oil bars and pastels. I work on paper, canvas and primed boards. I love using collage and hand paint or print my own papers.

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Artists of Frome

What inspires your work? I’m inspired by landscape and seascapes. My work is abstracted but is always taken from the landscape. I work from my own drawings which I make in sketchbooks. I’m interested in places that have personal meaning and hold memories. Revisiting or knowing an area well brings in deeper levels of emotion and connection. How did lockdown affect the way you work and create? Lockdown slowed everything down. I teach classes to adults, so after a while I caved in and took to Zoom. It has been a lot of fun and I think my students feel it has been a great success. As for my art, I had to really look around me close to home to find a new source of inspiration, which turned out to be Rodden Fields, farm and Church. It gave me an opportunity to focus and explore in depth one area of Frome and I have really enjoyed it. Where do you work from? Tell us about your studio. I work from a studio in the Silk Mill in Frome. My studio is light, quite a good size and warm in the winter! I have all my art materials there as well as a clean area for admin work and Zoom of course.


What is your favourite place to be for artistic inspiration? Cornwall! I’ve just returned from a two-week residency in Cape Cornwall which was pretty magical. Living and working with the sea pounding against the cliffs right outside the window was a dream come true. I managed to create a substantial amount of work which I hope to explore in more depth now I’m back. I’ve always loved Cornwall and I think after the last year of going nowhere it really added an extra layer of emotion to the whole experience. It was lovely to look at something different! Which artists inspire you, and why? I’ll start with David Hockney. I’ve loved his landscapes for years. I also love, in no particular order, Peter Lanyon, Hundertwasser, Joan Eardley, Kandinsky, Mary Fedden, Matisse, Ivon Hitchins, William Scott, Ben Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. Because I love Cornwall, I do have a particular interest in the artists who found inspiration there, particularly in St. Ives. I’m excited by colour, use of materials and the mark-making of all of these artists. If you hadn’t become an artist, what would you have done? I have no idea!! I considered working in film or the theatre behind the scenes at one point. I love animals, so working with them would appeal. But I’m a massive softy so would probably have ended up with a zoo of unwanted animals!

How do you find the Frome area, in terms of creativity and artistic community? Brilliant. There are so many creative people here and everyone is supportive. I think the creative community is positive, resourceful and pro-active in Frome. Are their any artistic processes/disciplines which you haven’t worked in/with, but would like to? I think I’ve tried nearly everything! I’d love at some point to explore printmaking further – monoprinting is something I really love. How can people see and buy your work? They can make an appointment and see me at the Silk Mill. I have a website: www.amandabeeart.co.uk and the usual social media sites, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – just look for Amanda Bee Artist! I have an exhibition coming up at the WHY Gallery in collaboration with Clare Lloyd who is a jewellery maker. We both love colour and playing with different colour combinations. We decided to use pigment colours to see what would happen if we started with the same limited colour base. Clare is using them to hand colour her beads and make statement art jewellery. I am making them up into either an oil or acrylic paint and painting local landscapes. The exhibition runs throughout July and into August. It is just the start of what we hope will be an interesting and evolving project. THE LIST FROME

Artists of Frome

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TRUG & LETTUCE fertiliser

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ast month we spoke about soil – what it is and how its properties influence what we can grow. In this issue we’ll look at how we feed the soil, and in turn, our plants. We all need plenty to eat and drink to survive and maintain good health. The same goes for our seeds and plants. And that’s where fertilisers come in. Fertilisers help plants grow. If the plant is a fast grower, then the more fertiliser we apply, the happier the plant will be.

Most fertilisers are based on the three major plant nutrients: Nitrogen (N): For plants that produce green leafy growth – like cabbages and other brassicas. Phosphorus (P): For healthy root and shoot growth. Potassium (K): For plants that produce flowers and fruit – like tomatoes and apples.

If your soil is healthy, then it might not always be necessary to add fertilisers. But, if you do then your plants should produce a much more impressive show of flowers or higher yields of fruit or veg.

If you buy your fertilisers, then their N:P:K ratio should be clearly stated on the packaging. For example, if the ratio is stated as 20:20:20 then this would indicate a balanced, all-purpose fertiliser. If however the ratio is 10:12:24 then this would indicate a fertiliser with a higher potassium content.

So, what are fertilisers? All fertilisers will usually contain a source of plant nutrients in either a chemical or organic form. Some might contain major nutrients, which some of our plants might need in higher quantities. Some will contain something that is referred to as a trace element, which plants only need in tiny amounts.

Examples of organic fertilisers include fish, blood and bone, seaweed, and liquid comfrey or nettle feeds. Continued...

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Ho u s e & Ho m e


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Improve your soil structure. We’ve covered plant nutrition, but now we need to put in some exercise. Time to get the fork out and work the garden over to improve the soil. A healthy soil structure is just as important as adding fertiliser. Plants are much happier in a soil that has been improved with the addition of manure and compost, or where the soil has been dug over, creating space for air and water between the individual particles.

We use comfrey leaves and nettles to make our own liquid fertiliser.

Why is this important? Well, the answer is simple. If you want to grow tomatoes and you pile on a nitrogen rich fertiliser, your tomato plants will plough all their energies into creating leaves and not tomatoes. If you’re looking to have an abundant salad crop, then don’t pile on the potassium. Where do fertilisers come from? Fertilisers are either man-made (inorganic) or are naturally found in plants or animals (organic). Some inorganic fertilisers are synthetic, artificial forms of plant nutrients. Others are naturally occurring mined minerals. Both are designed to be fast acting, and are often concentrated and need watering down (a good example is Miracle Gro). Organic fertilisers such as compost or manure) are naturally produced. They tend to be more slow acting, as the molecules are larger than those found in inorganic fertilisers. So they need time to break down before the nutrients are released. Examples of organic fertilisers include fish, blood and bone, seaweed, and liquid comfrey or nettle feeds.

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Every autumn, when we head to the coast for a dip in the sea, we also collect seaweed as a garden treat. Kelp that has been washed ashore after a storm is taken home, put in a water butt, and covered in rainwater. Six months on we have our own liquid seaweed fertiliser, which we then dilute and use to feed our plants. The allotment vegetables grow like stink, it’s free, and we even have leftovers for the worms in the compost. (Okay, it does pong. Most great fertilisers do. Just hold your nose.) And you can make fertiliser a lot closer to home. We use comfrey leaves and nettles to make our own liquid fertiliser. Same approach – chop the leaves, cover with water and then leave. Comfrey tends to be rich in potassium, whilst nettles tend to be higher in nitrogen. Use appropriately or do what we do – use a bit of both to give your plants a nice balanced diet, along with a drop of seaweed tea to provide that vital blend of trace elements too. There. All free. Harvested and made naturally. And don’t forget, if you live near stables, you can get the horses to do the hard work for you. Just fill a bag, wait till the worms are breaking it down, and serve… But why is all that important? Well, if there’s only one thing that you do this month then it really ought to be feed your plants. If flowers are your thing, then feed them. Give dahlias a liquid feed, keep them well watered and tie the shoots of tall varieties to sturdy stakes as they grow. Water and feed sweet peas, roses, and summer bedding regularly. Pick those flowers every few days, and remove any seed pods to prolong flowering.


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23


Serves Four, with Accompaniments

Aubergine INVOITINI seasonal Recipes from our resident Foodie Laura Coate

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This is a dish that will see you through the summer. It’s rustic, unrefined and should be eaten – for preference – outdoors on a warm evening, with friends, good bread and wine... It’s particularly useful if you’re a tomato grower, when, towards the end of summer, cherry tomatoes are ripening faster than they can be gobbled up.

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2 medium to large aubergines Salt Olive oil 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 450g small, very ripe tomatoes Ground pepper 1 x Buffalo mozzarella, drained and coarsely grated or chopped into small pieces Basil or oregano 2-3 tbsp Parmesan Butter


Slice the aubergines lengthwise into 4mm slices. Place these in layers in a colander, which you have a suspended over a bowl, sprinkling salt over the layers as you go. Leave these for around 30 minutes to draw out moisture. Pat the aubergine slices dry with paper towel. Heat enough olive oil in a pan to come 1cm to 2cm up the sides and warm over a medium–high heat. Place the aubergines in the pan so that they don’t overcrowd and fry until golden brown on each side. Remove the slices to a tray lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Leave these to cool while you make a quick tomato sauce. Roughly chop the tomatoes. Warm your aubergine pan again and, if necessary, add more olive oil to just cover the base. Add the chopped garlic and cook over a gentle heat for 15 seconds, or until you can just smell the garlic beginning to cook, then throw in your tomatoes. Season well with salt and pepper, turn up the heat and place a lid on the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the skins of the tomatoes have softened and they are beginning to collapse, with lots of bubbling juice. Remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes or so, until the liquid has reduced and the sauce is thickened and sweet. Set the pan aside.

(All of the above can be made in advance, but when you’re ready to bake your dish, preheat the oven to 200°C.) To assemble, you will need a baking dish, roughly 18 x 18cm. Take a slice of aubergine and place a small spoonful or piece of mozzarella at one end. Add a sprinkle of chopped basil or oregano and carefully roll the slice into a small log. Place this in your dish. Continue in this fashion until you’ve used all of your aubergine and the rolls are snuggly packed in the dish. Spoon over the tomatoes so that they more or less cover the aubergine rolls, then sprinkle all over with Parmesan and dot with small pieces of butter. Bake for 35 minutes, until bubbling and lightly browned in places. Leave the dish to cool to almost room temperature and then serve. Bread is excellent for mopping, here.

Follow Laura for updates and recipes: Instagram @foodwithfolk

Spoon over the tomatoes so that they more or less cover the aubergine rolls, then sprinkle all over with Parmesan and dot with small pieces of butter. THE LIST FROME

Fo o d w it h Fo l k

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HALF PINT OF PASTIS Th e Fr o m e Fo s s i l

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e once owned a house in France. It teetered high above a densely wooded valley in the obscurest south-west corner. The views were stupendous, the silence broken only by the clatter of the river below and the call of buzzards. Barns, haylofts, chicken houses and rabbit hutches clustered about the crumbling farmhouse. There was even a little building specifically for drying chestnuts The loft was full of pigeons and the cellar full of rats, and the crazily sloping field was ruled by frogs and snakes and wild boars. It was an utterly bonkers undertaking. Our nearest neighbour was a gigantic moustachioed farmer called Monsieur Mouysset. He seemed to bear the entire labour of his land on his massive shoulders, and was in a constant lather of sweaty, dung-daubed dynamism. When we first met, he threw down his pitchfork and profferred his forearm for shaking rather than his hand which, he said, was “trop sale”. Then he invited us round for a welcoming drink. We arrived, somewhat shyly, and were ushered into the kitchen. Madame and Mademoiselle Mouysset gestured at some chairs. We sat. Monsieur Mouysset flourished a bottle of pastis. We nodded. He filled two large tumblers to the brim and pushed them towards us. No-one else was drinking. Instead, they watched us beadily, not missing a gulp. Somehow, we downed the stuff and wheezed our thanks. The moment the glasses were empty, Monsieur struck. Could he rent our top field for his horses? It was the only level part of the farm. But of course, we said. How much? he asked. This was the crunch. For, even in my pastis-befuddled state, I vaguely recalled that French law gave rights to people who paid rent on land, making it very hard to turf them off later. I

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spread my hands and smiled. “Nothing at all,” I said. He didn’t blench or chew his moustache, but he didn’t pour another drank either. However, the Mouyssets were great neighbours. When we set off on the long drive back to England, Mademoiselle rushed down with a bottle of eau de vie and a freshly killed duck. But years later we sold up and never saw them again. Then the other day I had a message from the new owner of the house, saying that Monsieur Mouysset had died and hundreds of locals had come to his funeral. So, of course, we raised a glass to him. A much smaller one.


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