First Fridays are our informal gatherings/sharings, open to all. They started life as a physical place to meet up for a shared lunch followed by a live or occasionally remote presentation by an artist or group. Since May 2020 we have been gathering online which has taken away some of the social aspects but opened First Fridays up to a much wider and geographically diverse audience. Each event is on the First Friday of the month starting at 13.00 and finishing at 14.00 (UK time). member Philippa Beale will host this First Friday as part of a continuing series of talks and exhibitions about our sense of place in the world.

Philippa Beale: The Edge of the Barrator

A Sense of Place

[main image (above) Fiona McIntyre: Icelandic glacial river (detail) • Collage, silver leaf and mineral and organic pigments vivianite, ochre, indigo on paper • 57 x 78 cm

The Blackdown Hills, where Somerset and Devon rub shoulders together

The environment has changed little over the last 100 years, due to its inaccessibility to modern development. The Blackdown Hills was between 1911 and 1925 a source of inspiration for avant-garde painters, mainly from Camden Town Group. From 2022 to 2023 contemporary artists will recapture the same sites as a vehicle to survey and consider recent developments and hopefully provide an insight into the ecological, social, industrial, and historic issues particular to the Blackdown Hills over the last hundred years by examining the values and characteristics which attracted those artists in the first place.

The term sense of place has been used in many different ways. It is a multidimensional, complex construct used to characterize the relationship between people and spatial settings.[1] It is a characteristic that some geographic places have and some do not,[2] while to others it is a feeling or perception held by people (not by the place itself).[3][4][5] It is often used in relation to those characteristics that make a place special or unique, as well as to those that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging.[6] Others, such as geographer Yi-Fu Tuan, have pointed to senses of place that are not “positive,” such as fear.[7] Some students and educators engage in “place-based education” in order to improve their “sense(s) of place,” as well as to use various aspects of the place as educational tools in general. The term is used in urban and rural studies in relation to place-making and place attachment of communities to their environment or homeland.[8][9] The term sense of place is used to describe how someone perceives and experiences a place or environment. Anthropologists Steven Feld and Keith Basso define a sense of place as: ‘the experiential and expressive ways places are known, imagined, yearned for, held, remembered, voiced, lived, contested and struggled over […]’.[10] Many indigenous cultures are losing their sense of place because of climate change and “ancestral homeland, land rights and retention of sacred places”.[11]

Cultural geographersanthropologistssociologists, and urban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people or animals.[12] Places said to have a strong “sense of place” have a strong identity that is deeply felt by inhabitants and visitors.[13][14] Sense of place is a social phenomenon.[15] Codes aimed at protecting, preserving, and enhancing places felt to be of value include “World Heritage Site” designations, the British “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” controls, and the American “National Historic Landmark” designation. (from Wikipedia)

— Philippa Beale

Sandra Higgins

These images are from an exhibition curated by Sandra. Artists shown here (from L to R, descending) Belinda Crozier, Day Bowan, Marguerite Horner, Narbi Price, Ruth Piper, David Ferry, Maxine Foster, David Walsh, Max Milligan, Brian Usher, Luke Walker and John Ball. Some images are cropped to fit the gallery format but can be seen uncropped if you click on them.

Sandra has an MA in Art History and is an Independent Art Advisor/Curator and was a Research Fellow at Dartington from 1981-1984. She was the organiser of the Conference held at Liverpool University called ‘Green Towns and Cities UK/USA. 

Born in the USA, she studied Fine Art focussing on printmaking, and was an art tutor in Chicago, before coming to the UK where she became the first administrator of the Delfina Foundation. She operated Sandra Higgins Fine Arts, Mayfair, which evolved to provide independent consultation for private and corporate clients including Conran and Landmark Trust. Now living in Bath Sandra works with artists, galleries, museums, and clients to promote contemporary art.

Tim Craven


Tim Craven: Hay Harvest
Tim Craven: Ginner Clayhidon

Why artists are re-engaging with Romanticism in the 21st Century

Tim was Curator Southampton City Art Gallery (Retired)

The instigator of the now-international group of artists called the Arborealists and the Blackdown Hills project. Will explain how The Camden Town Group which evolved into The London Group developed British landscape painting in the early part of the 20th Century. He has 37 years experience of working at Southampton City Art Gallery and looking after a £150 M art collection covering 8 centuries.

Fiona McIntyre ARE

Icelandic glacial river 
Collage, silver leaf and mineral and organic pigments vivianite, ochre, indigo on paper
57 x 78 cm
Icelandic glacier 
Mineral and organic pigments malachite, bone black and silver leaf on nine gesso panels

Individual panels 10 x 15 cm 

Our Sacred Earth

Fiona will talk about how her travels across Europe have affected her perceptions as an artist and poet.

Fiona is a well-known British artist and was recently elected an associate member of the Royal Society Painter-Printmakers. This year she completed a residency at the Sidney Nolan Trust in Herefordshire leading to the solo exhibition Dreaming The Land. She is renowned for her art talks, demonstrations, workshops, and art/ecology collaborations and is a tutor at Marlborough College Summer School.