This may be a summer of sport, but there is also a cultural context to the current season of sunshine. New galleries, exhibitions and events are enhancing our cities and countryside, from a daring new landmark in rural Somerset to a temporary project that complements the natural beauty of the Isles of Scilly. And if you aren’t venturing abroad during the school holidays, there are plenty of arty activities to keep young creatives entertained, too.
Set your sights on Somerset
With art galleries in Zurich, New York and London, Hauser and Wirth is moving into unusual territory with its latest outpost: Somerset (hauserwirthsomerset.com). Durslade Farm, a collection of Grade II-listed buildings on the outskirts of Bruton, has been renovated and enhanced with new extensions and opened yesterday as the latest Hauser and Wirth gallery. Opening exhibitions include a collection of landscape drawings by Piet Oudolf, who has worked on New York’s High Line, and the gallery’s own gardens (opening in September). The drawings preview the landscape, which will feature a perennial herbaceous meadow and classical beds woven with pathways and planted with wide canopy trees. The restaurant is being run by local hotel At The Chapel (01749 814 070; atthechapel.co.uk; doubles from £100), while the main farmhouse will be available to rent (dursladefarmhouse.co.uk; four nights £1,500 for 12 guests).
Get alfresco in Tresco
The second biggest of the Isles of Scilly provides the canvas for an outdoor art project. Contemporary landscape artist, Anthony Garratt, has created four paintings that capture Tresco’s scenery at four different locations. Each has been left in situ to enhance the landscape and for visitors to enjoy until the end of September (bit.ly/ArtTresco).
When the heavens open, Gallery Tresco offers more artistic treasures under the cover of a converted boatshed: the summer shows here include work by artists who have been inspired by the islands, while the Valhalla Museum displays a permanent collection of shipwreck figureheads. Accommodation ranges from rooms at The New Inn (summer doubles £120) to a range of cottages (summer weeks from £5,250; 01720 422849; tresco.co.uk).
Make for a Merseyside marvel
One of Britain’s largest contemporary arts festivals – the Liverpool Biennial – is underway, with exhibitions in venues that include former Trade Union offices (to 26 October; biennial.com). Forming part of the programme is Sunday Art School, a monthly, free family-friendly event: this Sunday is led by Liverpool-based sculptor Kevin Hunt, who will be helping children create an artwork with their parents. On 16 August, there’ll be the opportunity to make kites and then fly them over the city as part of the Everton Park Kite Festival. On Thursdays, there’s a free guided tour of a reimagined First World War dazzle ship.
Stay at the newly opened Titanic Hotel Liverpool on the redeveloped Stanley Dock – the warehouse has been transformed to accommodate large, sleek rooms which start at £127 with breakfast this month (0151 559 1444; titanichotelliverpool.com).
From 6-21 September, artists across Devon open their studios to visitors. The programme for Devon Open Studios will be available to download later this month (devonartistnetwork.co.uk), but last year’s included a display at a ceramics studios on the edge of Dartmoor and a giant, indoor installation of migratory bird postcards in Exeter; there will also be talks, the opportunity to buy art directly from the artists and have a go yourself.
Helpful Holidays (01647 433593; helpfulholidays.com) has partnered with the event and offers rental of hundreds of properties in the county, including a Grade II-listed cottage sleeping two on a former Quaker farm in Membury. A week’s rental from 5 September costs £408.
Enjoy a tour d’art
After the success of this year’s Grand Départ, you might be inspired to pedal off yourself this summer. The sustainable transport charity Sustrans, has devised a list of art trails along the National Cycle Network that can be enjoyed on a self-guided trip.
In Yorkshire, the Spen Valley Greenway – eight miles of former railway line between Bradford and Dewsbury – has been enhanced with art inspired by the route. It includes a flock of scrap-metal Swaledale sheep, giant pedal benches and hazard signs that warn of “wild birds singing” or “first blossom of spring” (sustrans.org.uk). Hire bikes from MTB Cycle Yorkshire (07958 130712; mtbcycleyorkshire.co.uk).