Monday, 20 September 2021

Banksy to star in Festival’s art display

A GIGANTIC wellington boot covered in scarlet sequins will form the centrepiece of art on display at this year’s Henley

A GIGANTIC wellington boot covered in scarlet sequins will form the centrepiece of art on display at this year’s Henley Festival, writes Lesley Potter.

The four-metre tall polystyrene sculpture, called The English Summer, has been commissioned by the festival’s artistic director Stewart Collins and is currently being fashioned by artist Dick Budden from Waltham St Lawrence.

The sculptor previously has exhibited a giant sparkly stiletto shoe at the festival, entitled The Shoe Must Go On.

“Dick Budden is someone who has created wonderful special things for us in the past,” said Mr Collins. “Whenever I’ve had a supremely stupid idea I go to him and he’s great at creating brilliant things. He also works on film sets, and he can create these wonderful life-size things at the drop of a hat and with great skill.

“He loves the quirkiness of the festival and manages to reflect that in his work.

“The wellie will be slap bang in the middle of the lawn, it will have real pride of place, and will be seen from everywhere. It’s an ironic comment on the weather — that’s why we have decided to call it The English Summer — because so many people are as likely to equip themselves with a sparkly bikini for the summer as they are a pair of wellington boots.”

The boot, along with all other artwork on display at the festival, will be for sale, but prices have not yet been finalised, Mr Collins added.

This year’s art display will also feature two pieces by street artist Banksy to tie in with the Henley Festival community art project which, this year, has encouraged teenagers from schools including Chiltern Edge in Sonning Common to take part in graffiti art workshops.

The two prints, Smiling Copper which depicts an ape dressed as a policeman, and Happy Choppers, a squadron of fighter helicopters decorated with pink bow ties, are both about 4ft by 3ft in dimension. This month, another piece of work by the anonymous street artist, Slave Labour, is to go up for auction in London’s Covent Garden and is expected to fetch £450,000.

Mr Collins, who curates the work on display at the festival, chose the items from a collection held by the London West Bank Gallery.

He said: “I think Banksy’s work is fabulous. I love the fact that it’s incognito — no one knows who he is — I love the themes he uses, his subversiveness, and his very strong imagery.

“Of course it ties in with our community project this year, and Banksy’s work is the best example in this genre.”

Other work on display at the festival will include three new sculptures from Mexico, created in response to the Surrealist gardens of Las Pozas, created by British artist Edward James. Work by artists Tom Leighton and Nicolas St Gregoire will also be exhibited by the innovative Cynthia Corbett Gallery in London’s Mayfair.

The Henley Festival runs from Wednesday, July 10 to Sunday, July 14. Main acts this year include Madness, the Beach Boys and Paloma Faith. Visit www.henley- festival.co.uk for tickets.

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