Hauser and Wirth in Bruton is a great place to visit, I discovered this week: not only beautiful barns filled with extraordinary art, but the most amazing gardens stretching seemingly into the far hills of Somerset, with massive clumps of pink, purple, blue and bronze flowers humming with bees and swifts darting across the pool. It's a short train trip from Frome, with a footpath stroll through fields and allotments from close to the station. The reward, as well as this luschious vista, is a one-woman show from Jenny Holzer: Softer Targets features a series of dark aphorisms flowing in liquid light through differently coloured rooms, with coffin-like sculptures carved with sinister phrases that could be the last words of someone unknown... there are bones too, tagged with messages that might be the last thoughts of the dying victim. It's sombre and challenging but too interesting to be depressing, and well worth a visit. Plus there's the Bruton Art Factory exhibition near the station, which is very jolly.
I'm heading off now with my writer-friend Hazel Stewart for a weekend in Lille, which has apparently reinvented itself as France's most underrated major city & an architectural feast (there's even an art gallery in a swimming pool). Lonely Planet is enthusiastic: "this once-grimy industrial metropolis has shrugged off its grey image and transformed itself into a glittering and self-confident cultural and commercial hub. Highlights include an attractive old town with a strong Flemish accent, three renowned art museums, stylish shopping, some excellent dining options and a cutting-edge, student-driven nightlife scene." Expect a glittering and cutting-edge report later.