Monday, 14 October 2019

Art show to mark youth festival

Art show to mark youth festival

ART will be on display in businesses around town as part of the Henley Youth Festival starting next weekend, writes Phil Simms.

This is to embrace this year’s “Celebration” theme to mark the 25th anniversary of the festival and give residents and visitors the chance to get involved.

With the help of Helen Barnett, the town manager, several retailers in the town centre have agreed to host the works from March 9 to 17 to support the festival and help create footfall.

From Monday to Friday (5-9) next week, more than 700 children are expected to take part in 17 workshops held at 10 primary schools in the Henley area.

Two new artists have been added to this year’s programme — Artpod, who will help create celebration-themed bunting using block printing, and Lily Rossiter, an illustrator based at the Kids’ Club at the Henley School of Art.

Alison Flower, organiser of the workshops, said: “The festival has collaborated with talented local artists to deliver a creative programme to bring out the best in our children.

“We are delighted to welcome back Michaela Clarke with Create ‘n Make, Camilla Shelley and her wonderful screen printing at the River and Rowing Museum, Clinton Osborne and his animations, Nick Garnett with his amazing ability to create art from recycled materials and the highly creative Emily Cooling, who will be using a range of textiles to create paper lanterns.

“What has been amazing is the energy the artists have to embrace the theme of the festival and their consideration for the environment and not using lots of expensive materials. In many cases we are using materials that are already available or recyclable. This is a great message for the children and focuses on their creativity and their imagination.”

The festival also features music, performance and sporting activities for children from age four to 18.

Next Saturday (March 10) is the Go Kids Run, which is sponsored by the Henley Standard and will be held at Swiss Farm, off Marlow Road, from 8.30am to 11.30am. Entry is only bookable through the child’s school.

Organiser Eileen Unwin said: “We are looking forward to this event, which brings together the primary-aged children of Henley. We welcome all participants in Years 1 to 6 from local schools to support us and run in celebration of our 25th anniversary. There will be trophies for participating schools and individual inspirational prizes.”

That night, from 6pm to 10.30pm, sees the return of the Gig Night at Lovibonds Brewery, inside Greys Road car park, which will stage performances from DJs, bands and solo musicians in Years 9 to 13. Tickets are £5 on the door.

Next Sunday (11) primary school-aged musicians will perform at the Junior Proms at Shiplake College from 9am to 1pm.

Organiser Kate Swinburne-Johnson said: “We have an even greater number of entries for Junior Proms this year and it is lovely to see that some of this year’s group entries have been organised by the children themselves and I’m sure they have all been busy practising.

“There is always a very special atmosphere at Junior Proms and children really enjoy performing there — it’s really encouraging to see youngsters who perform for the first time come back year after year!”

From March 13 to 17 there are nightly performances at the Kenton Theatre in New Street and tickets can be found at the theatre website

On the Tuesday there will be the senior Proms, for classical, folk and jazz musicians in Years 7 to 13 from 7pm to 9.30pm. The following night is Entertain, an “anything goes” variety performance from Years 1 to 13 from 7pm to 9.30pm.

Steph Maxwell, who organises Entertain, said: “I am so excited for this year’s event as we already have a varied range of performers from gymnasts and dancers to singers, a drummer and comedians making the night an array of local talent.

“I’m really passionate about giving youngsters the chance to be creative in the performing arts and have the opportunity to perform on stage at such a lovely theatre and experience performing in front of an audience.”

On March 15 is Sing, for solos, duets and groups from Years 3 to 13 from 7pm to 9.30pm and the following day Young Dancer will also be held at the theatre, for Years 1 to 5 from 1pm to 4pm.

Julie Green, who organises both events, said: “Henley’s dancers have gone to town with this year’s theme, with children from the age of five to 18 entering their own choreographed numbers celebrating dance through the ages.

“We have the full array of dance styles to wow our audiences from hip hop to Irish to tap. I’m particularly looking forward to the Chiltern Edge School students’ showcase. The students will be learning a dance in a workshop with the inspirational street dance group Urban Strides during the week, which they will then perform on stage to close the show.

“It’s always a joy to be involved in the HYF Dance events, bringing the talents and passions of our local dancers to the stage, but I really think that this year is going to be something special.”

Also on March 17 is the art and film exhibition at the River & Rowing Museum from 11am to 4.30pm, which will continue the next day from 11am to 2.30pm.

This year’s special Gala Night will also take place on March 18, at the Kenton from 7pm to 9.30pm. Open to all years, the event will celebrate the last 25 years of the festival and will see the return of past performers.

Alfie Hay, performing arts co-ordinator and gala organiser, said: “The gala is going to have a whistlestop tour of 25 years of youth festival history, including professional musicians like Huw Wiggins seeing himself playing the recorder in Music Makers in 1994.

“It will be presented by older comperes and the youngsters who will be replacing them, mixing video and photographic history with live performance of ex-festival performers and the latest crop of stars. Memories from trustees and other enthusiasts will stud the evening.”

Co-chairwomen Jo Dickson and Ms Swinburne-Johnson say they are looking forward to this year’s silver anniversary festival.

They said: “We are always so impressed by the talent and imagination of the young people of Henley and it is pleasure to see. The workshops to be held in school are going to be brilliant and we have again arranged for some of the workshop groups to perform at the Kenton.

“We love seeing the children’s reactions to the workshops whether it is doing backflips in gym, participating in The Tempest with the Young Shakespeare Company or writing some comedy poetry. The art from some workshops will be displayed in shops around town which is a first for us and we can’t wait to see it.

“We have had a fantastic number of entries for all of our events and the organisers are busy with the final arrangements.

“The Gala is going to be a very special end to the week, with a large number of past performers coming back to the Kenton stage where they began all those years ago. We are very grateful to all our supporters, partners and Friends, without whom the festival couldn’t take place.”

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