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Sylva Wood Centre, Long Wittenham © Gabriel Hemery

Keep busy to beat the winter blues!

Throughout November and December, Oxfordshire Artweeks presents its ‘runaway’ Christmas season at interesting venues across the county
Oxfordshire Artweeks

"Milliner Lizzie Hurst will be demonstrating the craft of hat making in Abingdon and talking about her inspirations."

Esther Lafferty


While the great outdoors is grey and wintry, keep busy indoors with some crafty projects – and where better to start for inspiration that Oxfordshire Artweeks Christmas season and the other Christmas craft shows and events, while picking up unusual and individual Christmas gifts.

In Abingdon the long-established and highly regarded craft fair in the beautiful old Abbey Buildings (3rd-5th November; admission charge applies) has had an inject of fresh energy this year from fifty new artists and designer-makers showing their skill and their work.

You’ll find silver and gold chalices created in East Oxford, stoneware chickens from Steventon for the garden, colourful ‘bug jugs’ from Horspath and must-hold mugs to warm any stormy afternoon made by Fiona Chappelle in a studio just a stone’s throw – or should that be pot’s throw – from this medieval venue, the colours on her decorative and functional pots are inspired by the blues of the sea.

Lizzie Hurst's 'Modern Edwardian' hat evokes the lavish nature of the Edwardian era in a rich purple that reflects royalty.


Milliner Lizzie Hurst will be demonstrating the craft of hat making in Abingdon and talking about her inspirations. Inspired by the transition from the romantic period to the present day, for example, her ‘Modern Edwardian’ hat evokes the lavish nature of the Edwardian era in a rich purple that reflects royalty. This particular ‘crown’ combines modern millinery materials and traditional methods of manufacture, and then Lizzie had added three butterflies, with a contemporary touch of crafter’s flair, that look as if they are in flight with multiple silk wings and handmade antennae.

There’s even a chance to have a go yourself – whether that’s at weaving or ceramics – or take a kit home to make something wonderful for the wall with vintage stamps.

Alternatively, over in Charlbury, follow a winter walk through their village centre on 18th or 19th November and discover a dozen open studios and artist events that promise everything from small sculpture, festival-themed screen prints and local leatherwork.

Five other recommendations

(all free Artweeks events) in the north, south, east and west of Oxfordshire over the next few weeks:

18th-19th November, 10am-5pm: Christmas ArtWeekend at Sylva Wood Centre, Long Wittenham (OX14 4QT) for fine furniture, bee and tree-themed gifts, painted birds on driftwood and red-nosed reindeer.

18th November-17th December, 11:30am-4:30pm (Sundays 2-4pm): West Ox Arts’ festive show in Bampton’s Town Hall Gallery offers a variety of intriguing and individual handmade gifts.

18th November-17th December 10am-4:30pm (Sundays 2-4:30pm): Oxfordshire Craft Guild’s Christmas exhibition in Woodstock’s Oxfordshire Museum (OX20 1SW) for contemporary design and quality craftmanship by some of the county’s finest local makers.

2nd-3rd December, 11am-5pm: The Otmoor Collective’s Christmas event in Beckley’s stunning new Village Hall (OX3 9UZ) with small gifts and mosaics, textiles, and concrete, yes concrete, to intrigue.

2nd-3rd December, 10am-5pm: Art at Christmas in St Michael’s Church Hall, in North Oxford’s Summertown (OX2 7EZ), a long-standing event by select quality craftsman. Expect woodturning to wow, jewellery to make you joyful, and more with a mince pie and mulled wine too!


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