Thursday, 23 September 2021

Festival's garden of the arts is offering up 'a sense of magic'

Festival's garden of the arts is offering up 'a sense of magic'

WORKS by Paul Day, Simon Gudgeon and Stephen Newby will be among the packed visual arts programme at this summer’s Henley Festival.

Against the backdrop of the festival’s stunning riverside setting, works by some of the UK’s most exciting contemporary artists will include large-scale sculptures, immersive outdoor light installations and a string of pop-up galleries.

Running from July 5 to 9, the festival’s sculpture garden will include pieces by renowned British sculptor Paul Day, who created the official Iraq and Afghanistan memorial unveiled by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in March.

Known for his high relief works and widely recognised as a leader in his field, Day’s best known works include the Battle of Britain London Monument on the Victoria Embankment and The Meeting Place at St Pancras International station.

The lawns of the festival site will be host to a series of installations, sculptures and interactive artworks from leading artists including Ivan Black, who will be showcasing his stunning kinetic work alongside Richard Jackson and Sally Fawkes’s expressive glass sculptures.

Joining them will be Simon Gudgeon’s minimalist, semi-abstract forms in his signature smooth style, and Dawn Conn’s whimsical sculptures inspired by fairytales, romance and simple pleasures. Stephen Newby’s Beating Heart will dominate the festival’s Riverside Lawn — a beautiful installation that demonstrates the artist’s mission to challenge preconceived notions about the nature of materials and their possible forms.

As the festival moves from day to night, David Ogle’s illuminated forest of light, with its canopy of interlocking, glowing branches, will bathe the lawns in pools of neon light, while Jig Cochrane’s “Jigantic” light garden will bloom with magical giant illuminated flowers.

Festivalgoers can also create their own multi-coloured light show simply by talking to trees, as part of Ithaca’s interactive installation, Whispering Trees.

Contemporary art mogul Eddie Lock has teamed up with regular collaborator Liam West of urban art gallery Beautiful Crime to once again showcase an array of striking urban photography, painting and mixed media artworks that will adorn the walls of the Art Bar.

Newcomers to the Eddie Lock & Beautiful Crime Galleries this year include New York make-up artist Sonja Yaso and Dutch artist Hayo Sol, whose fans range from actress Denise Richards to Prince Albert of Monaco.

They will sit alongside works by Fin DAC, Goldie, Pam Glew, Dan Balwin, Illuminati, K-Guy, Russell Marshall and many others who are turning heads in today’s art world.

Elsewhere in the festival grounds, quirky work from the Connor Brothers will be on display in the new Jazz Garden Gallery, while visitors will be invited to sit for their very own stitched portrait by Harriet Riddell.

Riddell has travelled the world with her sewing machine, stitching deeply personal portraits and landscapes including in the slums of Nairobi and the tea fields of the Himalayas.

Looking ahead to July, the festival’s artistic director Stewart Collins said: “The thing we’re majoring in this year which we haven’t done so much of in the past is a series of installations — light installations — by the likes of Steve Newby and Jigantic and David Ogle — and in a way that’s something I’m particularly looking forward to because they are installations that will just be lit up as the day turns to night, sort of thing, and that will have a different kind of impact.

“What we’re trying to do is create a sense of magic, both in daylight and after dark, and I think by doing it this way — by having all these special light installations — that this year we’ll build that particular side of things because it’s a type of art that’s very much coming through.

“It’s a very contemporary form of art, there’s a lot of new events that focus on light installations and it’s good to be sort of in the vanguard of that particular movement.”

Tickets for this year’s Henley Festival start at £45. For full details of the programme and to book, visit

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