Travel overseas can be a nightmare of queuing, cancelled flights, and lost luggage. So whether you are visiting the area or are planning to stay close to home for the summer holidays, it’s a great time to explore the near-far places within the beautiful Marches. We recommend a few gems near enough to bike or a short car drive away from the centre of Ludlow to bestow a visit.
The Sidney Nolan Studio, The Rodd, Presteigne, Wales, is a concealed treasure just 17 miles southwest of Ludlow. Presteigne is a small town known for its historic, vibrant, artistic community set in the lush rolling landscape of Powys county. We suggest you while away some time doing both by combining your visit with a browse and breakfast, lunch or dinner in town. For such a small town, there are several places to get a bite to eat, including The Workhouse Cafe, No. 46 and Wild Thyme Italian Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar. A little further away but not too far from the Rodd is The Stag Inn & Restaurant. It’s best to make a reservation at any eateries to avoid disappointment.
Sir Sidney Nolan (22 April 1917 – 28 November 1992) was a leading 20th-century Australian artist who grew up in Melbourne and among the series of works he’s most known for is on the Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly – an epic poem. “Nolan became an artist for whom the expression of emotion and the emotional punch of his work was everything. He painted in series, like visual poems which are at their most profound when exhibited together – and the poems are complete. This is the crux of Nolan’s work and what makes it vital. He speaks to the world of imagination…” (sidneynolantrust.org/sir-sidney-nolan/about-nolan/)
Nolan’s last home was at the Rodd in Presteigne, and you can become absorbed in one of the largest collections of his work on display in the 17th-century barn. To the uneducated eye, so much raw emotion emanates from his art. As the website alleges, one can imagine the artist suspended from the beams in a rope harness wearing a gas mask and a can of German car paint in each hand above his canvasses! You can also take in the artist’s many tools in his well-preserved studio.
Nolan founded the Trust in 1985 as an inspirational gathering place for artists, scholars, students and others to meet, exchange ideas and create. At his death in 1992, he bequeathed a legacy of paintings, property, farmland, and woodland.
Other artists are exhibiting at The Rodd:
- Fiona McIntyre
- Jim Carter
- Jony Easterby
- Australian Indigenous artworks
Open Thursday – Saturday 11am – 4 pm through to 29 October 2022. Entry is £5. Soothing landscaped grounds in a rustic setting with art installations in the home and sheds. Tea, coffee and cakes are served in the artist’s former home, Sidney Nolan. Plenty of room for parking. Easy-to-navigate garden. Rodd Court does not have wheelchair access due to the age of the building. Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic to have on the grounds. But best to plan your meal for nearby Presteigne.
If you are travelling as a group you can organise a tour limited to a 10-person minimum at £12.50 per person includes access to the gallery, gardens and woodlands as well as hot drinks and cake.
Visitors to the area can also book one of the two holiday accommodations available at the location.
Dates for the diary (booking required):
There are a number of workshops particularly for kids and young adults throughout the summer holidays, fees apply. Here are a few highlights:
Friday 29 July, 11 am – 12 noon
Thursday 4 August, 2 – 3 pm
Art workshops for children | Aboriginal Painting for Children with Kate Constantine
Friday 12 August, 11 am – 12 noon
The perfect size to view and reflect on the work of exhibiting artists. It was a lovely afternoon to have tea and cake and wander the thoroughly charming former home of Sidney Nolan, looking at the exhibits (some are for sale). The staff are knowledgeable and welcoming. Plus, the converted van in the garden filled with plants is also a delight!