The Black Swan Guild is part of Frome’s Black Swans Arts continuing commitment to the development of arts and crafts within Frome and beyond. The Guild will nurture and showcase high quality work from the widest possible range of artists and craftspeople. It will celebrate the rich history of Arts and Crafts within the Black Swan Arts building and the organisation’s long and fruitful history in the town.
The overriding criterion for selection as a member of the Guild will be the quality of the work you produce. Quality will take precedence over other factors such as qualifications, experience, status and geographic location.
For 16 weeks of the year the Guild exhibitions will take place in the two-storey Round Tower. This is a well-used and much-loved multi-disciplinary exhibition, showing a variety of art and craft in a wide range of shows – solo, group, craft, fine art, photography and sculpture.
Black Swan Arts is a highly regarded charity for the promotion of contemporary arts and crafts in the centre of the vibrant market town of Frome, Somerset housed within the walls of a converted 18th Century inn. Its main exhibition space – the Long Gallery – was previously used as an auction room. The Round Tower was originally a wool drying house and the courtyard at the rear was used to buy and sell chickens and other small animals on market days.
Having spent 200 years at the bustling heart of the town’s commercial and social life, after the Second World War the building fell into disrepair. In the early 1980s, a small group of local residents raised funds to repair the building and open it as an arts and crafts centre. The Black Swan Arts Centre opened to the public in 1986 and quickly became a central component in the town’s growing reputation for contemporary art and craft. In 2016, the trustees were proud to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black Swan Arts with an exciting programme of exhibitions and special events.
Today its primary function is to be a centre of excellence for the region, creating opportunities for engagement in arts and culture that span all ages and multiple interest groups, housed in an architecturally significant building.
The town itself has developed a national reputation for arts, crafts and music. Its burgeoning and increasingly celebrated arts and crafts scene can be seen in the exciting mix of creative venues, the independent retailers on Catherine Hill and Cheap Street, the monthly Frome Independent Market, the annual Open Studios, Frome Festival and the many individual artists and craftspeople who work in the town. The Black Swan Arts Centre is a major contributor through its programme of exhibitions in the Long Gallery and Round Tower Gallery, its tenanted studio spaces let to a range of artisans and craftspeople and a contemporary crafts shop.
More than 20,000 visitors per year visit the centre and the work of over 400 artists is shown in a variety of solo and collaborative exhibitions and competitions. Regionally, Black Swan Arts is held in high regard and is considered an important art centre in the south-west.