From 4th-27th May, more than 1000 artists and designer-makers across the county will be opening their studios, hosting pop-up exhibitions and giving demonstrations as part of Oxfordshire Artweeks the longest-running and biggest event of this kind in the UK, and wherever you live there’ll be something interesting happening near you.
From Abingdon to Burford, Chadlington to Didcot, nearly 500 venues are opening their doors and welcoming you in, for free, to enjoy eye-catching paintings and pottery, fine art photography and sunlit stained glass, sculpture, fashion and furniture, and treasures in silver and gold, all created locally. It’s a chance to meet the artists, to see how the process of creation in action and hear about their inspiration and ideas, stories of the past and the present, journeys travelled and adventures captured on canvas.
There are plenty of new dimensions to the festival to surprise the most experienced art-lover as well as the enthusiastic day-tripper, and there’s so much on offer it can be hard to know where to start so here are a few suggestions for exhibitions to captivate all the family.
In Blewbury, alongside brightly-coloured collages of birds in vintage textiles created with hand and free-motion machine embroidery, you’ll be charmed by Eleanor’s Wong paintings inspired by ideas and drawings by her own children (venue 244). Taking their drawing as her starting point, she faithfully recreates their imaginative views where the boundaries of adulthood don’t apply adding her own aesthetics – expect charming and magical paintings of woodland animals at a wedding, a birds’ tea party and more alongside the originals in her children’s hands, evoking playful moments, memories of our own childhoods and reminding us to stay young at heart. . Dan – these come paired, an adult image and a child’s one
In St Blaise Church in Milton (Artweeks venue 235) amazingly-detailed poster-sized coloured-pencil drawings by Robert Strange show the colourful world of everyday items such toys and collectibles, golf tees and discarded tools too (if you’re looking ahead to Father’s Day). Everything from cracker toys to Winnie-The-Pooh, sweet wrappers to beach toys ‘squashed’ into boxes and then depicted in two dimensions, the seemingly mundane brought to life in this vibrant exhibition which also includes sculpture and ceramics.
Discover fun pastels in a vintage caravan ‘Gertie’, nestled in the midst of Cuckoo Lane Studios, a converted courtyard set in woodland on the Eynsham Hall estate (Artweeks venue 363). An only child, artist Nic Vickery grew up surrounded by pets, with parents that worked at a huge paper factory on the Botley road, and the a ready supply of free paper combined with a love of animals set her on an artistic path! Today her realistic and intricate portraiture includes dogs, horses, cats, and prize cows, pigs and chickens – anything as long as it’s got fur, feathers or scales, she chuckles! Her other pastel drawings however are joyfully quirky – from a Morris Dancing Magpie to Prudence the Puffin who is all set for a swim!
And in Bicester in the old St Edburg’s school buildings (Artweeks venues 378-381), lots of artists are showing their art -from a variety of sculpture from talented professionals sculptors, to an insight into artists’ studios through the lens of hip portrait photographer Massimiliano Giorgeschi, and joyful naïve art by Casimira Mostyn. Casimira’s artwork is all about colour and plenty of it: the bolder, the brighter, the better! Her are fun, colourful, and whimsical, taking nature and her quirky style will entertain children of all ages and their adults too.
So head to Witney library where students from Abingdon and Witney college showcase their latest art; explore ‘Inside spaces’ in HMP Bullingdon prison near Bicester, an exhibition of work by residents; or celebrate the diversity of Oxfordshire residents through digital art, paintings and photographs for Oxford Pride in the University Church of St Mary on the High street (Artweeks venue 149). Or ride through swirling snow behind huskies with adventure-artist Leila Jevadi who opens her home gallery in Kennington and welcomes you in (Artweeks venue 216). #thisartistcan
For more about the Oxfordshire Artweeks festival and amazing art in wonderful places across the county, visit http://www.artweeks.org where you can search for the exhibitions closest to home or browse the entire listings.
Published in Pick Family Magazine May 2019