H&WS is based on a beautiful listed model farm on the outskirts of Bruton and the new complex will be a carefully considered blend of old and new, with the historic but derelict old buildings being painstakingly restored.
Dursdale Farm will become Hauser & Wirth Somerset: pic by Aaron Schuman
There will be five gallery spaces in total showing Hauser & Wirth artists – who include leading contemporary names such as Martin Creed, Pippilotti Rist and Ron Mueck as well Louise Bourgeois and Henry Moore.
Hauser & Wirth opened its first gallery in Zurich in 1992 and now has five including two in London and two in New York.
The Bruton site is being developed to take visitors on a journey through a series of galleries which begins in a stunning old threshing barn dating from 1760 and ends in two brand new galleries designed by Paris architects Laplace & Co.
Alice explains: 'Visitors go on this journey through the old buildings and get glimpses of the new architecture through the windows and then when they are in the new they can look back at the old and so you get this wonderful relationship with the courtyard in between.’
Hauser & Wirth, which is privately funding the project, has brought in some of the most creative names in the business to realise its Somerset venture.
The famous Dutch landscape gardener Piet Oudolf – the man behind the Olympic gardens and the new pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery – is designing a two acre meadow garden and an inner courtyard which connects the old and new buildings. He is known for creating spectacular swathes of colour in perennials.
Much of the plot at Dursdale Farm will remain as rough agricultural land in keeping with the historic buildings but there will also be hidden areas of intense planting which only reveal themselves as you travel through the galleries.
Alice says: "All the new plans are very sensitive to the existing structures and the history and context but at the same time we are doing something very contemporary and different."
The scope and ambition of H&WS is nothing short of mindblowing – it’s going to be quite unlike anywhere else, a slice of contemporary artistic cool in the heart of the West Country.
As well as the galleries, there will be an education centre, the restored farmhouse hosting artists in residence, a restaurant, café and bookshop. H&WS plans a wide range of cultural events - music and poetry nights, outdoor film screenings, book readings. Local and regional artists will also be invited to show at the new space and take part in its cultural programmes.
Like At the Chapel, which will be involved in the planned restaurant and cafe, Hauser & Wirth Somerset is going to become a gathering place in Bruton.
As Alice points out the art complex should appeal to a cross section of people from art lovers and garden fanatics to those who simply want a civilsed cup of coffee with a good WiFi connection or a glass of wine with friends in the evening.
H&WS will also feed into schools, giving West Country pupils the chance to see great contemporary art without having to travel to London.
Alice says: "It will bring history, architecture, art, landscape gardening and food together all in one place."
She adds: “It’s a big project and and I’m sure it will get international recognition. People ask what there is in the world that is similar and there are other outdoor country located projects but there is not another commercial gallery doing something like this."