Black Swan Arts Press Releases

The Future Can't Wait

Date published: 28 April 2017
Event: Steve Burden – ‘Utopian Myths’
Date: 13 May–10 June 2017
Location: Main Gallery

Black Swan Arts in Frome is hosting a new exhibition of paintings by the winner of the Black Swan Arts Open 2016, Steve Burden, inspired by dystopian themes associated with housing estates.

‘Utopian Myths’ features work informed by Steve’s childhood growing up on the Pepys Estate in Deptford, south London. As well as the architecture and history of the estate, he also explores social issues affecting urban spaces, such as security, isolation, control, gang culture and population density. He says, “Growing up in an urban jungle, surrounded by out-of-scale concrete fortresses, has inevitably informed my development and visual aesthetic as an artist.”

Now based in Wedmore, Somerset, Steve graduated from Goldsmiths College with First Class Honours and Bath Spa University with a master’s degree in fine art.

Photo-collage forms the bedrock of Steve’s paintings, but layering is also an important aspect of his work, both in terms of building up layers of paint and accumulating multiple readings, so creating a more complex narrative. In some works, layers of paint are removed, allowing the pigment to leach and take on the patina of stained concrete. This is followed by areas of overpainting during which parts of the image are obliterated. He also experiments with the viscosity of the paint and the way it can be dragged across the surface, allowing some areas to permeate whilst obscuring others.

‘Utopian Myths’ runs at Black Swan Arts from 13 May to 10 June, with a preview evening on Friday 12 May from 6–8pm, which all are welcome to attend. Steve will also be taking part in a Q&A session on Thursday 18 May at 7.30pm as part of this year’s Museums at Night initiative (

The painting, Abattoir, which won the Open, is going on tour as part of the ‘Alternate Visions: Undiscovered Art from the South West’ exhibition organised by Pallant House Gallery. The show opens at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on 3 June and then moves on to Falmouth, Cheltenham and Poole.

The Future Can't Wait

Date published: 24 February 2017
Event: Society of Graphic Fine Art
Date: 4–25 March 2017
Location: Long Gallery

Black Swan Arts in Frome is staging an exhibition of drawings by a prestigious national art society, the Society of Graphic Fine Art. The exhibition includes work showcasing traditional and contemporary techniques in all drawing and printmaking media and in a wide range of sizes and media.

The show forms part of an initiative by SGFA to showcase recent work by members in different parts of the UK.  The SGFA also organises a biennial at the Bankside Gallery on London’s South Bank and an annual open exhibition at the Menier Gallery, Southwark.

The society was established in 1919 to promote good drawing and draughtsmanship. It is the only national art society dedicated exclusively to drawing and currently has a membership of over 130 professional artists. This exhibition shows both traditional and contemporary drawing techniques in a wide range of sizes and media.

For more information on current membership and events, see  The show runs from 4–25 March in the Round Tower at Black Swan Arts. The official opening takes place on Friday 3 March – all are welcome to attend.

Black Swan Arts Studios

Soaring Towards the Exceptional Black Swan Arts looks forward to an exciting future

After a hugely successful 30th anniversary year in 2016, celebrated with fantastic arts events including 1000 Postcards, which attracted a record number of visitors, Black Swan Arts Centre is looking forward to an exciting future. 2017 is set to be the start of exceptional development and growth. Trustee Alex Webb says: “We are listening to the community and trustees are actively putting together an exciting, engaging development programme to enhance the visitor experience.

It has been a miraculous and often turbulent journey for Black Swan, which opened in 1986 in a disused ex-public house, believed to date back to the 17/18c. The original building was joined to the Round Tower (an old wool drying house – early 19thc) by an extension in 2000. The Arts Centre has undergone several setbacks, but through sheer hard work and public support, it has pulled through. Now thriving, Black Swan is a vibrant, dynamic Arts Centre, which raises cultural levels in Frome and reaches all ages and audiences.

Black Swan Arts continues to work towards being a hub for the community and for local, national and international artists, showing high quality, accessible art. A vital part of the centre is the provision of studio and workshop spaces, where visitors can see works in progress, as well as the ever-popular café and shop. A charitable Arts organisation run by a dedicated team of trustees, volunteers and a part-time member of staff, Black Swan’ s vision is to keep expanding its reach and potential. Fund-raising is part of this plan and a renewed Friends Scheme has been developed.

Seamus Nicholson, winner of Black Swan Open 2015, is currently showing photographic work ‘ exploring the peripheral everyday’ inthe Long Gallery. Coming soon (18 March – 15 April), Bath Spa University’ s MA show ‘ The Future Can’ t Wait’ showcases work by post-graduate artists who will give talks, welcome schools to the gallery and engage with young people. Frome Art Society return for their popular exhibition (22 April – 6 May). Last year’ s Open winner Steve Burden returns for a solo show (13 May – 10 June). Human rights artist Ricky Romain will be showing in June, leading to a major touring exhibition ‘ Sketch’ coming to Black Swan (22 July – 3 Sept), followed by textile artist Gladys Paulus’ ‘ Hinterland’ in the Long Gallery. Collaborating with Somerset Art Weeks Festival ’ 17 themed ‘ Prospect’ , the Round Tower Gallery will show Fiona Campbell and Angela Morley’ s new work entitled ‘ Ephemeral and Eternal’.

Always popular, the Black Swan Open and Christmas shows will round up the year. “Our aim is to provide an inspiring, inclusive and welcoming artistic hub, where the community and visitors from afar can enjoy and engage in aspirational and occasionally challenging art. A place where artists and visitors might rise above the mundane, even soar towards the exceptional,” says Amanda Sheridan (Chair of Trustees).

Black Swan’ s new website currently being developed will reflect these values

Black Swan Arts Press

Black Swan Art is revitalising its Friends group and inviting local art lovers to join.

Black Swan Arts, Fromes innovative contemporary art gallery, is revitalising its Friends group and inviting local art lovers to join.

The Friends are a key pillar of support for the centre, providing crucial financial assistance and acting as advocates for the free-admission gallery which promotes local artists.

Black Swan Arts hosts approximately 20 shows each year from painting, craft and sculpture to photography, drawing and textile-art. There is also a cluster of studios. Art societies from Frome often display their work in the galleries and the centre organises community art, such as last years Secret Swans project which saw swan-inspired art decorating the town. We are so grateful for all the help our Friends give, said Rachael Holtom, the new Volunteer Co-ordinator of the Friends group, To say thank you we offer a variety of benefits, including regular newsletters, invitations to show pre-views, a 10% discount on work purchased in the galleries and studios, an annual visit to another gallery or artists studios, as well as chances to meet Trustees, find out more about where we are heading and get more involved. Above all, Friends know they are helping the creative community of Frome.

We welcome donations of at least £25 for new members and I really look forward to meeting new Friends