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Oxfordshire Bursts into Life for Artweeks

Artists and designer-makers prepare for hundreds of exhibitions and events across the county for Oxfordshire Artweeks

Discover the natural world, from the poles to the equator, take a journey in a gondola through the Venetian archipelago, or travel back in time and share memories of childhood

Expect Oxfordshire to burst into life this spring with as many as a thousand artists of all ages at more than 400 venues, as artists and designer-makers prepare for hundreds of exhibitions and events across the county for Oxfordshire Artweeks (2-25 May) in the longest-running and biggest open studios event in the UK.

Painters and designers, potters and sculptors, wood-turners, photographers, jewellers and textile artists

will all be opening their homes and studios across the county to the public for free to showcase their talent through exhibitions and demonstrations. From fashion to furniture, in collage, ceramics, mosaic, on fabric, on film and on canvas, artists are telling tales of wonderful places and journeys travelled, their inspiration and idea.



In Abingdon historic town hall, five jewellers showcase their new pieces inspired by the Roman remains discovered in nearby Marcham, and now housed in the Abingdon Museum. Enjoy striking sculpture in Garford or enjoy ‘Views from a Taxi’, photography from India & Sri Lanka by Bernard Auton alongside ceramic birds & driftwood sculpture by Shira Gal both new to Artweeks for 2015. For large group exhibitions with a wide variety of professional artists head to Dry Sandford, Appleton or Peachcroft Farm Barn to discover a new group of artists in a medieval barn, just metres away from the Jewellery and Silver Society of Oxford who will also be demonstrating their craft. With two schools and new responses to Old Masters by Oxfordshire Mind in the Well-being centre there are artists of all ages and abilities opening their doors to welcome you in.


You’ll find a wealth of sculpture in the heart of Bicester, as Bicester Sculpture Group show their talents in the beautiful studio and garden of The Old Vicarage by St Edburg’s Church, or enjoy a fresh exhibition of contemporary design, photography, print-making and furniture by nine artists in the classic summer setting of Heyford. There’s decorated earthenware & sculptural stoneware on show in Lower Heyford’s Old Rickyard, and in Upper Heyford, established artist Stephen Yorke exhibits with talented newcomer, sixteen-year old Beatrice May as his fascination with light combines with her modern interpretation of village life.


In Harwell, Robert Strange is preparing for his May open studio with sparse textured landscape paintings inspired by the Ridgeway, each taking just a few hours to complete. These are a total contrast to his other work - colourful ephemera squashed into boxes drawn in coloured pencil, his obsession with ‘collecting things in boxes’ serving a source of inspiration and each takes between 80 to 120 hours to complete.

With four ceramicists on The Green in Steventon, textiles at Milton Hill House, rag-rugs in Upton, painters in Aston Tirrold and small suclptures in East Hagbourne there’s plenty to explore. In Didcot centre, the Cornerstone hosts its annual open show for Artweeks, with drawings created traditionally and digitally, see silver jewellery by Charlie Davies or head to North Bush Furlong and visit new exhibitor Ruth Rothery and her appealing animal portraits and fun speckled flower art.


In Faringdon’s historic centre you’ll find new faces in multi-artist exhibitions in two of its oldest buldings – from photographic collages of local landscapes meticulously reconstructed from hundreds of originals, jewellery, textiles and sculpture in The Rookery, with its chequered heritage; to local landscapes in watercolour and oils contrasting with fresh animal portraiture in the Old Town Hall. Head West to Longcot for three stone carvers a stone’s throw apart with neighbouring funky mosaic mannequins, or visit the beautiful National Trust village of Coleshill for four art spaces for quirky black and white fine art photography and lino-prints, paperworks, pottery and more in Old Stable Yard studios. Take the ever popular artist trail through Great Coxwell or head to Watchfield’s wind farm for kinetic & sonic sculpture at community-owned windfarm with occasional performances too. With artists throwing open their studios in Bourton, Standford and Uffington, there’s plenty to explore on the edge of east Swindon this May.


Enjoy a sea view in Thame with painter Janine Philips, whose giant canvases being the tide right into Thame or explore a real artist’s studio with Christine Tacq and see her printing presses at work! Visit an artist in her studio or head to a stable studio at Brill’s Manor House for a collection of contemporary fabrics and silk inspired by traditional botanical illustrations and herbaria. Heather Hunter, artist-in-residence at Turn End Gardens in Haddenham is also inspired by the natural world. In addition, she’s developing art as a reaction to the lace work in Thame Museum for her artist books, each a mini gallery, and sculptural ‘altered books’-books.


Visit a well-established group of artists in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell with work ranging from large lively canvases to botanical watercolours; discover fresh jewellery and ceramics in a delightful Little Wittenham barn and orchard garden or visit the neighbouring Sylva Wood centre, with tree art and new workshops dedicated to the best in home-grown wood. You can escape to Cornwall with vivid seascapes by painter Jane Duff or travel further afield in Dorchester-on-Thames where narratives, history, people & ideas are captured in wall-mounted tree-dimensional ‘theatres’. Ceramicist Lucienne De Mauny is celebrating 30 years as a professional potter and welcoming you into her new Crowmarsh studio to see her craft, and in Castle Lane print-maker Marion Hill celebrates ‘50 years an artist' with a retrospective exhibition of the art she has produced as an artist and teacher.


In Letcombe Regis you’ll find four artists in The Old Manor Stables with art on an equestrian theme with paintings and more. Gutsy seascapes, landscape and cityscapes by Jane Vaux will grace the centre of town in The Dolphin Gallery, just a stone’s throw from the Vale & Downland Museum where local artist Stuart Roper who explores the many elements that creates a bigger picture and take on a life of their own on great big canvases. In the town too, for example, regular Artweekser Jill Cooper’s surprising intricate fabric collages will surprise you with the skill in which they capture people and places, while across in Ardington, a group of professional art tutors will demonstrate their crafts including sculpting in stone, wood carving, working with leather and windswept images drawn from thread onto fabric and paper. Explore examples of the local offerings in an exhibition at The Charlton Centre, Wantage throughout May.


In Witney, start at the SOTA gallery in Langdale Court where Andrew Harrison’s breath-taking artistic sculptural pieces which combine the traditions of woodturning, and carving with a modern touch; head to Cogges Manor Farm for wool and textiles art by local Cotswold artists and Cogges volunteers, Sue Tucker and Neil Cap; or be surprised by the talent of the young people who access Witney Early Intervention Hub. Head to Eynsham to follow a village trail with local scenes and travels abroad, pottery, textiles, photography and steel sculpture both large and small; explore the Kingfisher studios in Crawley to see glass art, jewellery and mixed media art, or visit Pip Shuckburgh, Bampton's resident Downton Abbey artist, in her studio.

Discover the natural world, from the poles to the equator, take a journey in a gondola through the Venetian archipelago, or travel back in time and share memories of childhood. Come nose to nose with a highland cow in a Cotswold pub, or follow the fine lines of a bird at flight in a bookshop. Find nature encapsulated in glass or reproduced as fine silver jewellery, or enjoy art good enough to eat, or eat off!

Visitors are invited into hundreds of interesting spaces, many of which are usually closed to the public, including Oxford Colleges, two of the finest medieval barns in England, a West Oxfordshire wind farm, and a classic 1930s barge on the river Thames. Art aficionados and everyday enthusiasts, adults and children alike will be able to follow art trails through Oxford streets, Cotswold villages, along the Thames or through the county’s market towns.

And with art talks, events, and workshops at The OU Museum of Natural History, The Ashmolean and art centres across the county, there’s something to inspire all ages and aspirations. Visitors will have the chance to see the art produced in their own communities, to ask local artists about their influences, techniques and materials, and even have a go themselves.

The listings are now available on-line at artweeks.org and the printed festival guide will be available from April.

- Esther Lafferty


Top Image - Melanie Charles will be exhibiting at The Harrow Inn, Enstone, OX7 4NF, from 2-10 May from 12 noon until 6pm

Bottom Image - Dicot Cornerstone


Related Articles: The Natural World Awakens | Artist’s Books: Each a Miniature Gallery | In the Bleak Midwinter | Advent in the Wild Woods | The Art of Remembrance | Oxfordshire Artweeks