Titan Arcadia Gallery Incredible Opening Night

Over the last year or so Matt Crabb and I have been working on an exciting project. Our goal has been to highlight and showcase chainsaw carving, while making it more accessible. We reached a BIG milestone in this with the opening of the Titan Arcadia Gallery in Taunton this week…

24 men and women are assembled in a group for this photo inside an art gallery. They are the artists exhibiting at the gallery and the occasion was Titan Arcadia Gallery incredible opening night
Artists participating in the Titan Arcadia exhibition.

What is Titan Arcadia?

Before I talk about the Titan Arcadia Gallery, for those who haven’t heard of it before, what is Titan Arcadia?

Titan is the brainchild of chainsaw carver Matthew Crabb. It incorporates many different facets, but basically looks to create a thriving and supportive chainsaw carving community. Initially there was a shop, an environmental initiative and a social media showcase of carvers. Around 12 months ago he and I also began talking about a collaboration company. That company would be a platform for sculptors to combine their skills to create huge installations for a variety of clients. And so, Titan Arcadia was born. The first example of this was the Lord of the Rings sculpture Matt and I made together at Burghley show.

Wood sculpture of an open book with a hand appearing to write in it using a quill. Gollum crawls out from the pages while frodo baggins stands on top. Creators and Titan Arcadia founders Matt Crabb and simon O'rourke are photographed with the sculpture
Matt and I at Burghley show with our Lord of the Rings collaboration.

The Titan Arcadia Gallery

While we were working on building the business, Matt had the great idea of creating a pop up art gallery. His vision was to showcase the talent within the wood sculpture sphere.

That initial gallery was created with a small budget in Matt’s workshop. As time went on, it also expanded to include artists using mediums beyond wood. Matt did an AMAZING job, and the local councillors who visited were really impressed. However, being in his workshop, it could only be a ‘one night event’. Everyone recognised it had been a great success, and there was a place for a more permanent exhibition space though. And so, talks began about an empty building in Taunton that we could use…

Simon O'Rourke's sculpture "Ascension" exhibited in the Titan Arcadia Gallery in Taunton

The Second Titan Arcadia Gallery!

Somerset West and Taunton SWT set us up with an incredible unit at Coal Orchard in the Riverside Development. More artists came on board (including an artist-in-residence, Barrie Yarde), and bit by bit over the next months the gallery came together. This week all the hard work paid off and the gallery opened! It was an fantastic evening, and the place is full of stunning works created by around 30 different artists.

At the moment the Titan Arcadia is a pop-up gallery, and will be in place until the end of February. We’d LOVE keep it open somewhere in Taunton long term, as we believe it’s a unqiue asset to the arts scene and enriches culture in the area.

a series of animal head sculptures on pillars exhibited in the titan arcadia gallery in taunton

The Titan Arcadia Gallery Vision

Our vision with this gallery is primarily making chainsaw carving more accessible and visible to the public. However, the vision goes beyond this…

We want a space where the public can enjoy an inspiring collection of work – and we hope that anyone who came to opening night agrees that’s what we have here!

We also want it to be a place where people can interact with artists, so we’re growing a team of local artists in residence who can work in the gallery space free-of-charge. Matt and I believe this is a particularly valuable opportunity for art students from local colleges or artists just breaking into the profession. It’s also a way for those of us who are more seasoned to encourage new artists and facilitate opportunities to get their work seen and known – sowing into a new generation!

A view inside Titan Arcadia gallery, an unique art exhibition in Taunton. Most prominent is a chainsaw carved wood sculpture of a mushroom

Art for All!

One of our core values at Titan Arcadia is that art should be accessible, and this is reflected in the Titan Arcadia gallery, and in what we’re planning for the future.

Firstly, people can attend the gallery for free! This means that the gallery is not just a place to purchase artwork, but also just to be able to enjoy art for art’s sake. Traditionally, art has often been seen seen as high brow or too expensive or exclusive. We hope that by making it free, more people can enjoy this wide variety of artistic expression/mediums.

We also plan on holding ‘sensory gallery visits’. Initially we’re hoping these will be for people with visual impairments (chainsaw carving has a LOT of texture and shape that can be enjoyed!) but also extend to various other learning difficulties.

Lastly, we want this to be a place where artists can succeed. Many galleries charge 50-70% commission on works artists sell through them. That’s a massive amount and can inflate the price of pieces. We’re going to be charging 20% commission instead to help cover the running costs. We’ll also be looking to help grow up and coming artists and raise the profile of art in the community by sowing 5% of that back into local art charities.

Sculptures at the titan arcadia gallery in somerset
Chainsaw carving sculptures are very ‘tactile’ and we’ll be hosting ‘sensory sessions’ for visually impaired people at the Titan Arcadia Gallery

Visiting the Gallery

Have I sold you on a visit?!

If so, the address is Unit 5, The Quay, Coal Orchard, Taunton, TA1 1FBT, and he gallery is open to the public most weekdays and Saturdays until February 2023. Opening hours are 10am – 4pm, and any changes to these hours will be announced on the Facebook page.

We feel this is a really exciting addition to the current chainsaw carving ‘scene’ in the UK, and indeed, to the workd of public art! Do feel free to share with others, and if you visit, we’d love to hear what you think!

You can keep up-to-date on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087641185799

Views at the titan arcadia chainsaw gallery of some small buffalo, goat and horse sculpturesin wood

Final Thoughts

The gallery opening was a fantastic night, and I’m proud to be part of such an initiative. There were MANY people working behind-the-scenes who contributed to its success. MASSIVE credit has to go to Matt though for this amazing gallery. It’s his tenacity and dedication that got the gallery looking so good in such a short space of time. It’s both very humbling and an honour to be his partner in Titan Arcadia!

If you’re an artist and would like to exhibit at Titan Arcadia, please contact us through the Titan Arcadia Gallery Facebook page.