HALF-term provides an opportunity for travel, and in our house that means gallery visits further afield.

I saw Phyllida Barlow and Franz West at Bruton, two group shows in Southampton, Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke, and ‘Mirrorcity’ at the Hayward Gallery in London. All in three afternoons.

Southampton’s City Gallery has a high quality display in its airy central hall, and plenty of temporary space for exhibitions from the collection.

I saw ‘Bomberg and the London Group’, which has now changed to another early British modernists selection. Well worth a visit until December 20.

It can seem uninspiring for a day out, but Southampton does benefit from its university.

The John Hansard Gallery on the Avenue Campus has staged an ambitious show called Show me the Money.

This is hit and miss, but a film by Mark Boulos, made in the Niger delta about the impact of the oil industry, is deeply affecting.

It is paired with footage of a stock exchange trading floor: losers and winners in the money game.

The gallery is not that easy to find or get to, but there are buses from the station. Until November 22.

Hauser and Wirth’s new gallery at Bruton must attract comparisons with the New Art Centre at Roche Court, but the presentation is quite different.

Whereas NAC has the atmosphere of a retreat for quiet contemplation, Bruton seems by contrast more like a fun palace.

It combines old yellow stone with new grey brick, nothing ostentatious but of good quality, and the new build connects effortlessly with the old.

The bar and restaurant have rightly attracted praise: the food is good, and the design of the bar, cloakroom and open kitchen is modern but welcoming.

It is a hive of activity, and for the communities around Bruton this is significant. More than 40 jobs have been created, mostly for young local people.

The galleries are now closed until November 29 when Pipilotti Rist, John Chamberlain and Richard Tuttle shows open, so delay your visit.

But do go: the Bruton project is designed to combine interests in art, architecture, gardening, food and farming and should be viewed as a whole.

We took up South West Trains’ half-term travel offer to London.

The Germans have invaded, and I recommend Anselm Kiefer – until December 14 – at the Royal Academy, and would warn you off Sigmar Polke at the Tate Modern.

Kiefer is a serious artist with interesting concerns, yet, I was surprised to discover, has few skills as a painter.

His early work is sometimes laughably bad, but get up close to recent impasto paintings and it’s a very rich feast.

Polke is thin gruel by comparison.

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