Art trail extended with new exhibition after record-breaking year

The Secret Severn Art Trail is being extended with an exciting new exhibition after the number of visitors and sales of artists’ work for the 10-day event broke all previous years’ records.

Jan Park, Vice Chair, in her studio
Jan Park, Vice Chair, in her studio

Organisers are celebrating the best year yet for the popular free Shropshire trail, centred around Jackfield, by opening again for two more long weekends this month (September).

People have another chance to enjoy work from the best local artists while soaking up the beautiful World Heritage Site scenery, from Friday 18 to Sunday 20 September and from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 September.

Returning visitors will have plenty more to see as the team has re-hung the main exhibition at the Footprint Gallery, Fusion, next to the famous Jackfield Tile Museum, with more than 40 new pieces of work on display, to replace many sold exhibits.

More than 1,250 people from across the UK visited the trail between Thursday 3 September and Sunday 13 September, an increase of more than 40 per cent on last year, while sales were up by 130 per cent on 2019.

While the pop-up studios at Jackfield Village Hall will not be re-opening for the extended period, in addition to the main exhibition, visitors can see artists at work in open studios including Jan Park Art, next to the Tile Museum, and studios at Maws Craft Centre. Studios will also be open at Ironbridge Fine Arts and Framing at Merrythought Village, the Bolthole at the Wharfage in Ironbridge, and the Angel Gallery in Broseley.

The exhibition will be open from 10am to 5pm each day – and safety measures will be in place including one-way systems, hand sanitiser at entrances and spacing to maintain social distancing.

The Chair of Secret Severn, Rod Sheppard, said: “We are thrilled that so many people have visited the trail, that they have taken home work by the artists, and that we have been able to extend the event with a fresh new exhibition.

“We’re all the more grateful as the event was in doubt due to coronavirus but once restrictions were lifted we could plan an event with more artists and venues than ever before. We’d like to say a big thankyou to everyone who has come along and made it a success – and urge more people to take up this new opportunity to enjoy the work of hugely talented artists in this amazing setting.”

Vice Chair, Jan Park added: “With all that has happened in 2020, we didn’t expect to have our most successful year yet but we’re delighted that people from across Shropshire and the UK have been able to get involved – and it’s been a wonderful way to mark our fifth year.

“People have been fantastic in following all the Covid-19 safety procedures and in sharing really lovely feedback. We look forward to welcoming more visitors in the coming weekends – and returning faces to see the re-hung exhibition – or just take it all in again.”

“A brilliant idea”, “inspiring work” and “magical exhibits” are some of the words shared by visitors to this year’s event so far.

Artists will continue to sell a whole range of products from greeting cards, jewellery, ceramics, original paintings and drawings to sculpture, photographs, prints and textiles – for all budgets.

Flags outside the venues will help people to see who is taking part. Parking is available at Jackfield Tile Museum while coffee is also available from its cafe.

The trail will run alongside the Festival of Imagination, a feast of art, poetry, cookery, film, workshops, performance, talks, and local history celebrating the Ironbridge Gorge.

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