HESTERCOMBE is opening a contemporary art gallery in the estate’s historic house.

Not opened to the public since the 18th Century, organisers hope visitors will be able to see work by leading contemporary artists from May 24.

The opening exhibition, is called ‘Leaping the Fence’ and curator Tim Martin says it celebrates the breadth of contemporary art of the last 20 years.

He said: “It will bring together provocative and exciting art works including sound and film pieces, sculpture and digital works as well as paintings from the national Arts Council Collection together with works borrowed from leading art galleries and collectors.

“This is a truly exhilarating venture. We will bring together a range of works of the kind not often seen in this region.

“I am in negotiations regarding pieces from renowned names in the art world including Turner prize winner Mark Wallinger, Mark Quinn and Meriele Neudecker.

“Hestercombe has always had a place at the leading edge of creativity as the world famous gardens were designed by people who, before they became garden designers, were established artists in their own right.

Philip White, chief executive of the Hestercombe Gardens Trust, said: “We are looking for volunteers with a wide range of skills for a variety of activities from painting and decorating, to invigilating the rooms once the artworks have been installed, meeting and greeting visitors, manning the new second hand bookshop and serving tea and coffee.

Contact Hestercombe for more on the volunteering via www.hestercombe.com