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  • James Stewart

South Stoke Idyll - A View From the Barn- 23 to 27 May 2024

Updated: 4 days ago

“Our concept of Idyll is a contemporary representation of the landscape as we see it not some romantic pastoral image of rustic life” Artists, Matt and Nick Bodimeade

“A view from any window (or indeed of a painting) will be the same for each person, but they each perceive or take away a different meanings or interpretations depending on their own individual experiences and knowledge” Curator, James Stewart

“Much has changed in farming over the last 50 years; food production is still at the heart of what we do, but as ultimate custodians of this spectacularly beautiful corner of the English countryside we are committed to preserve it for generations to come.” Farmer, Ryan Haydon

“I want to unpick the discordant images, ideas and perceptions of the rural from the sub-urban/urban perspective in relation to the realities of modern British and Irish agriculture.” Artist, Agriculturalist and Researcher, Adam Stead.


This May (23-27), Zimmer Stewart Gallery are pleased to present ‘South Stoke Idyll’, an exhibition of contemporary art inspired by the unique location in a barn in a small farming hamlet nestling in the South Downs National Park, alongside the river Arun.

The exhibition will include:

  • Private View on Thursday 23 May (6-8pm), with a brief introduction by Matt and Nick Bodimeade

  • ‘Art and Agriculture’ on Friday 24 May (6.30-9pm), a talk by Ryan Haydon and Adam Stead with a panel discussion including artists Matt Bodimeade, Nick Bodimeade and Emma Hurst, led by James Stewart. This event in aid of The Sussex Snowdrop Trust has now sold out. (see more below).

  • Sunday 26 May, an event around the barn, bring a picnic, enjoy the exhibition, also a chance to find out more about the farm. Sussex Snowdrop Trust will provide tea and cakes from 3-5pm.

The exhibition will be open from Thursday 23 May to Monday 27 May - 11am-6pm

A fully illustrated catalogue with a forward by Ryan Haydon will accompany the exhibition.

As the exhibition visitor walks, cycles or drives to the barn at South Stoke from Arundel They travel from the town deeper into the countryside, leaving Arundel dominated by its Castle, seat of the Duke of Norfolk, the Roman Catholic Cathedral. The lime tree lined avenue, alongside the river Arun, leads  to the Mill stream painted by Constable, then on to Swanbourne boating lake and Arundel Park.

As you continue, on the right, the Arundel Wetlands Centre founded by naturalist and artist Peter Scott, with its car and coach parks built on what used to be spring fed watercress beds. 

Then on past the Chalk pit and the Black Rabbit pub, and from there continue up the cutting to Offham village with its dairy farm. On turning left toward South Stoke you see the ‘Lion and Unicorn’ park gates, a local landmark and the gamekeepers’ sentry like cottage.

Avoid the many pheasants on the road, travel past fields of barley grown for animal feed and fields of cows grazing the flood plain drained by POW’s from the Napoleonic  war; down the sunken lane and into the village of South Stoke dominated by its imposing Georgian Farmhouse, the 11th century St Leonards Church, the old Rectory and huddle of what were once ‘Norfolk Estate Red’ painted labourers cottages.

South Stoke is a wonderfully rich interactive mix of nature, environment, history, leisure, economics, politics, religion, class, race and cultural identity.

So when we finally look at the paintings in this context how do they interact with the view through the barn door?  

The Exhibition

The exhibition (23 to 27 May 2024) will include paintings by brothers, Matt Bodimeade and Nick Bodimeade, and an installation by Emma Hurst in the Undercroft.

In addition we will show ‘Feed’, a video created by Adam Stead at South Stoke (See below).

Both Matt and Nick have a strong connection to South Stoke, having spent their formative years working on the farm. They studied Fine Art in Sussex, live and have their studios within the downs (Matt near Arundel and Nick near Lewes).

Their work reflects and represents their view of the landscape around them, which most often is the agricultural land around them, land that has over centuries been shaped by man and the need to provide food.

In most of Matt Bodimeade’s paintings there’s central motif: a wall, a track, a river or a railway. It is no coincidence that this division is often scythe or sickle shaped and seems to slice the landscape apart; the fields and woods suggest work, movement and energy, shaped like plough blades, discs, or saw teeth on either side of the central divide. The artist invites you to stroll through the landscapes, stopping beside the flint wall, or looking down a track to the river, enjoying the arrangement of colour and form, light and shade, rhythm and texture, and deep, vertiginous perspectives.


Composition is important in all of Nick Bodimeade’s paintings; he uses diagonals, horizontals, negative/positive space as well as focal points to help the viewer’s eye move across the canvas. Nick Bodimeade is seemingly able to present his subjects with the minimum amount of information. Outlines are created with "negative painting" where the background is painted around the objects/figures. Light also plays a pivotal role in the works, with shadows and highlights, with expressive use of paint and colour.

Emma Hurst studied graphic design at Bath Spa University before completing an MA in Fine Art from West Dean College of Art and Design. Emma also lives and works in Sussex, her minimalist abstract works aim to blur boundaries between painting, textiles, sculpture and installation, activating the latent, emotive power of the material world.

In her work Emma Hurst expands the idea of painting, exploding a collage into three-dimensional space as she responds to the environment outside.

Each piece of Emma’s work bears traces of its history, drawn from and responding to the world we live in.

Click here for the list of works and prices for Matt Bodimeade.

Click here for the list of works and prices for Nick Bodimeade.

Click here for the text to accompany Emma Hurst's installation.

Click here for the list of works and prices for Emma Hurst, see her artist page for images.

Art and Agriculture

On Friday 24 May at 6.30 guests are invited to join Zimmer Stewart Gallery for a very special event in aid of the local children’s charity, The Sussex Snowdrop Trust, which has been sponsored by Sims Williams, Arundel.

Farmer, Ryan Haydon and Artist/Agriculturalist/Researcher, Adam Stead will present a talk and discussion on Art and Agriculture with a panel discussion including artists Matt and Nick Bodimeade and Emma Rimer, lead by James Stewart.

The talk/discussion will place the work exhibited in context of the location, as well as broaden the debate to modern farming practices, sustainability and climate change.

This will be a ticketed event organised for and by The Sussex Snowdrop Trust.

Please visit this webpage or click the button below to purchase tickets. The ticket price £15 will include a pre-talk drinks and canapés and a chance to view the exhibition both before and after the talk.

Ryan Haydon:

Ryan Haydon
Ryan Haydon

Ryan Haydon is a second generation farmer, having lived at South Stoke since the age of six, his father Reg took the tenancy from the Duke of Norfolk in 1969.

The previous incumbent at South Stoke was the colorful Jimmy Lee, but as South Stoke farm was no longer considered large enough to be viable, the neighboring farm, Offham, was included as well, making the new holding some 500 acres, sizeable for the time.

Ryan is father to son Conor, & daughter Lorna. Conor currently manages the Norfolk Estate farm for the Duke of Norfolk, while Lorna is now part of the farming business partnership with Ryan. There are three grand children, the last count...., so maybe a fourth generation of Haydon's at South Stoke ?

Ryan studied agriculture at Seale Hayne college in Devon before returning to the farm in 1986. From 2010 he took on roles with both Tesco & Arla foods, working to develop dedicated fresh food supply chains and create better & lasting relationships between retailers and producers. In 2018 he focused back on the home farming business as the industry continued to flex from changes in government policy, Brexit, climate change, and consumers perception of what the countryside should both look like & be used for.

Fundamentally, the variety of land types always dictates the type of farming, so at South Stoke, dairy and beef cattle have always dominated the lowland meadows, with arable crops and sheep covering the gentle downs that rise up from the Arun valley.

Much has changed over the last fifty years, but food production is still at the heart. The numbers are certainly different though, in 1969 the farm carried about 100 head of cattle , and a handful of sheep, but with some additional neighboring land it now supports around 600 head of cattle and some 500 ewes.....but with less staff than fifty years ago.

Markets have changed too, in 1969 the milk and meat produced would have been sold and consumed within 20 miles of the farm, South Stoke now supplies milk, beef and lamb to three of the major retailers, distributed right across the Uk.

The post war push for food in this country led to a distorted market by the 70's & 80's, then with the demise of the European Common Agricultural Policy in the nineties, the term 'conservation' started to favour production. With European support for agriculture at an end, domestic governments in the UK are now encouraging and rewarding conservation.

South Stoke farm has had to constantly react to market forces, and diversification has evolved in many forms, but Ryan & his family are the ultimate custodians of this spectacularly beautiful corner of the English countryside and they are committed to preserve it for generations to come.

Adam Stead:

Adam Stead: Artist, Agriculturalist and Researcher
Adam Stead: Artist, Agriculturalist and Researcher

Adam Stead is an Installation Artist, Agriculturalist and Academic Researcher who works to unpick the discordant images, ideas and perceptions of the rural from the sub-urban/urban perspective in relation to the realities of modern British and Irish agriculture.


Adam is currently undertaking a PhD in Art and Agriculture at the South East Technological University (SETU), Ireland, between Art (Wexford) and Agriculture (Waterford). He positions himself in conversations that intersect the boundaries of rural and urban. It is this juxtaposition of worlds that fascinates Adam to open up dialogues to understand the relationships of people, places, processes and animals that are often intentionally masked from the urban.


As an Artist Adam’s practice using a variety of media including sculpture, film and print to articulate alternative ideas of rurality. The core of his practice is rooted in the exploration of reclaimed materials, often sourced from dairy farms. Adam’s sculptural installations have made use of faecal strewn steel, bale twine and cattle mattresses carefully assorted with consumable products such as cattle marking paints. In the careful curation of these materials and objects, the work begins to explore the exchanges that take place in the rural through the performed language sets of stock judging. The Stock judging lexicons have become of significant interest in developing recent work sculptural installations.


FEED by Adam Stead

Included in this exhibition is the film FEED (2021) which was commissioned by Agricultural Sociologist Dr Orla Shortall from The James Hutton Institute.

The film responded to her research project investigating the significance of growing grass for both indoor and outdoor dairy farming systems across the UK and Ireland.

In this film, Adam Stead sets out to highlight the geo-economic and socio-economic challenges and differences from a variety of dairy farms across the UK and Ireland, including South Stoke.

He sought to give farmers a sense of authorship by asking them to film parts of their dairy farms using their own mobile phones at a time when national and international travel was heavily restricted with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dairy farmers were sent an instruction booklet and homemade brownies for their participation in the project sending their short video clips via whatsapp to Adam. These clips were digitally superimposed, filmed and edited by Robbie McKane at South Stoke and Offham.

The above clip on Vimeo is just a short extract, we will be showing the full version during South Stoke Idyll.

Sussex Snowdrop Trust

The Sussex Snowdrop Trust was founded 30 years ago in 1993 to provide vital nursing care at home for local children who have a life threatening or terminal illness such as cancer, brain tumour, cystic fibrosis or blood disorders.


The Trust must raise approximately £350,000 a year to fund a Care at Home Team, which includes nurses, counsellors and support workers.


Most recently, a Snowdrop paediatric nurse has been funded to support the team at Fordwater School in Chichester, who cater for pupils aged 2 – 19 years with severe and complex learning difficulties.


The Trust is currently supporting approximately 68 families within a 15-mile radius of Chichester, West Sussex.

Diana Levantine, Chair of the Sussex Snowdrop Trust said "We thank the artists & speakers and Zimmer Stewart Gallery for hosting this event which will raise vital funds and awareness for The Sussex Snowdrop Trust."

The Barn

South Stoke Barn is one of just five built on farms around Arundel by the Duke of Norfolk in the late 1800’s and the only one left in its original form, most of the others are now converted to houses.

It was a working granary barn for South Stoke Farm until about 1980 when more appropriate and larger barns were built in South Stoke and Offham.

The barn is virtually unchanged since it was first built, and the original timber beams upstairs create a stunning back drop to events. The original chain and flight elevator mechanism is retained within the beams of the barn upstairs. On the ground floor there is an open fronted undercroft that spills out on to the lawns.

Although, the barn is no longer used in farming at South Stoke, with diversification there is now an indirect agricultural use providing an important source of income for the farm as a wedding and events venue.

In May the area begins to blossom, the fields and hedgerows explode into life, and as you look out from the barn towards the Downs, nature, in all it’s glory is laid out before you.


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