A chat with Make Hauser & Wirth Somerset’s Director Jacqueline Moore

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Breed – talking to Jacqueline Moore of Make

A chat with Make Hauser & Wirth Somerset’s Director Jacqueline Moore

Hauser & Wirth launched in Bruton in 2014, bringing a world-class gallery and arts centre to Somerset. It provides a wide-ranging programme that includes art, architecture and education, complete with outdoor sculpture displays in its landscaped garden and a restaurant, the Roth Bar & Grill. And all set in the environs of the carefully restored working free-range Durslade Farm.

After four years, it was decided to launch a new gallery space with a focus much more on craft. So, Make Hauser & Wirth Somerset opened in 2018 in a Georgian townhouse in Bruton that had previously acted as Hauser & Wirth’s offices. Since then it has presented works by over 50 artist-makers, many of them made specifically for the gallery and all available for purchase.

At the helm of the gallery and curating the exhibitions put on there each year, is Jacqueline Moore, who had previously run her own Moore Gallery. We caught up with her to learn more of the thinking behind Make and what they have in store as the nation begins to open up again.

Did you always have ambitions to work in the art world from an early age?

Photography was my first passion and I’m forever drawn to the singular power of the black-and-white image and works by Paul Strand, Vanessa Winship, Chris Killip among others. As a child I loved to collect things, make arrangements – objects of no intrinsic value – a bird’s feather, pebbles from the beach. The flotsam and jetsam that feel good in the hand. I’m sure my childhood collections sparked my adult interests.

What was your background before you took on the running of Make Hauser & Wirth Somerset?

After a career in photography, I began to mentor artist-makers and curate exhibitions of work which led to my role at Make. My home is alive with objects and images which I’m constantly rearranging, looking for relationships and correspondences between things. Living with the handmade allows one to continue the journey of an object, to take part in an exchange with the maker.

Did you spend a lot of time visiting galleries when you were growing up?

Yes, though not always accessible, growing up in the rural Cotswolds, but my Father was a keen amateur photographer and maker and influenced my future creative path. I have albums of photos he shot on a Box Brownie and a collection of early daguerreotypes. My parents were of a generation when nothing would go to waste and they could turn their hand to anything from furniture-making to sewing and knitting – this thinking around sustainability and resourcefulness is equally relevant to contemporary making and craft practice.

Do you have any favourite galleries today?

Often, I prefer intimate galleries and spaces within galleries. The Brancusi Museum in Paris is a favourite and The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark for its location. The collection of Inuit artefacts in the British Museum celebrates humankind’s impulse to make the practical beautiful. I have always been a huge  admirer of and former ambassador for The Photographers’ Gallery in London and its original site on Great Newport Street holds special memories for me. Of course, the Hauser & Wirth galleries are phenomenal in their breadth and appreciation of art, craft, gardens and food and I would love to visit Chillida Leku and the recently opened Menorca gallery.

Is it important that the gallery be deeply connected to the local community?

Yes, as with Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Make is firmly embedded within the local community, especially with its High Street position. Across the exhibition programme, I look to show the work of Somerset and Southwest makers and encourage the use of locally sourced materials and taking inspiration from the land and landscape of the region. We have a beautiful, forthcoming winter show with six artist-makers inspired by Oudolf Field – the Piet Oudolf designed garden at Hauser & Wirth Somerset.

Would you describe yourself as a craftsperson?

I’m certainly a passionate collector of craft, from ceramics, to textiles and works in wood – nestled on the mantlepiece are a Craig Bamford constellation metal sculpture, beside a black Han Dynasty jar, a small, ‘volcanic’ Akiko Hirai moon jar and a Waistel Cooper pot. Ancient and contemporary treasures occupy every surface. Works to inspire and hold memory and those, like a Sue Paraskeva porcelain hand-thrown cup that form part of my daily, breakfast ritual. My husband and stepson are makers so my world is immersed in their work, materials and hands-on making.

What’s your day-to-day role at Make?

Researching and unearthing artist-makers, planning and curating the exhibition programme are key roles, but meeting clients and visitors from all walks of life is a daily pleasure – the gallery is a very welcoming, conversational space.

How has Covid affected the gallery over the last year?

It was a huge sadness to close our doors to visitors for long periods over the past eighteen months, but a positive outcome is gaining a new global, online audience. Growing the gallery across digital platforms has been an exciting development. A balance of the physical and digital has to be the ideal. The works at Make engage all the senses and demand to be seen, held, touched… that visceral experience and interaction are still vital. However, through social media we can reach an audience all over the world which is thrilling.

What have been some of the highlights of the first few years of Make?

Working with craft practitioners is a joy! I will never cease to be thrilled by the arrival of new works for an exhibition. Installing in the gallery spaces, looking for connections between works, creating linking narratives, quiet reflective corners, encouraging the viewer to navigate the objects, make discoveries… Conversations with visitors are a vital part of encouraging the appreciation and understanding of craft and there have been many wonderful exchanges in these first years.

Do you have any favourite up-and-coming artists and craftspeople we should look out for?

There are artist-makers who deserve greater recognition, including furniture maker David Gates with his extraordinary ‘collecting cabinets’, and metal artist Stuart Cairns.

What plans do you have for the future of the gallery?

There are so many exhibition proposals in my head and many exceptional makers overseas I would love to show here. Who knows what awaits to be discovered? But there are exciting plans for 2022.