Thursday, 07 July 2022

Artweeks festival ‘bigger and better than ever’

Artweeks festival ‘bigger and better than ever’

THIS year’s Artweeks festival in Watlington will be bigger and better than ever before, say organisers.

About 70 artists will exhibit their work around the town from tomorrow (Saturday) until next Sunday, May 22.

The event is part of Oxfordshire Artweeks, the country’s oldest and biggest open studios event, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

It was started by a small group of artists in Oxford who opened their houses to the public and has grown into a three-week festival involving 2,000 artists across hundreds of venues across the county.

Artists in Watlington are taking part for the fourth year and there are 33 venues in the town, including the three churches, the town hall, the library, the Orange Bakery and the Granary Deli in High Street and the Spire and Spoke pub in Hill Road.

Organiser Jaine McCormack, a mixed media and textile artist from Christmas Common, said: “This year it is going to be bigger and better than ever before. We have 25 artists taking part for the first time.

“The whole of High Street will be full of artists and we are really excited about that.

“We also have some new venues, including the Tree Barn in Christmas Common, where there will be demonstrations and street food every day. It’s a huge venue.

“Setting it up is a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun. We have such fantastic support from the community and we are grateful to Watlington Business Association for all its help.” The Tree Barn, which is run by Andrew and Jane Ingram, will host about 10 artists including sculptor Amanda Moser, glass artist Jaque Pavlosky, painters Jeffery Courtney, Lizzie Christie Miller and Marian Mills, blacksmith Julie Grose, photographer Robert Barber, and ceramicist Satnam Bains as well as Ms McCormack.

The Watlington Club in High Street is hosting work by photographers including Andrew Kerr, John Hailstone, Caroline Hyman, Rachel Wallace and Dee Robinson.

At the Artshub, based at the Methodist Church in Shirburn Street, visitors will be able to see natural inks and pigments made by Jules Bishop, ceramic sculptures by Andrea Brewer and drawings by Jen Skene and Edwina Sercombe.

The town hall will have paintings by Katie Cannon and Marnie Watson, work by mixed media artist Jules Crews, pottery and ceramics by Susie Bidgood and illustrations by Clare Davis.

Ms Davis said: “It’s my first year taking part in the festival and I am very excited. I’m really looking
forward to it. The other artists at the town hall are great.

“When you put together an exhibition you have a chance to look back at your work and feel really proud of it. It’s a way of seeing how far you have come.”

The library in High Street will be hosting pen and ink illustrations highlighting the beauty of local flora and fauna by Steph Hicks.

Dr Anna Tilley, who chairs the Friends of the library, said: “We are delighted to be able to participate once more.

“Steph Hicks’s beautiful pen and ink illustrations of the flora and fauna found in the South Oxfordshire countryside are definitely worth a visit so do drop in to see them.”

Some participants will open their studios to showcase their art.

Painter James Kelso uses a small shed in his garden in Gorwell, where he will be working on a painting of West Meadow during the festival.

He said: “I will be showing three of my paintings and working on a new one. I’ve been part of the festival before but couldn’t take part for the last couple of years so this year I wanted to show my support for the event. Oxfordshire Artweeks do a brilliant job at promoting artists.”

Textile designer Angela Swan, of Ingham Lane, will show visitors how she produces woven samples on a digital hand loom to be mass-
produced.

She said: “My studio is my back bedroom but there’s a lot of interesting equipment in it that people will be able to see.

“I wanted to take part because I feel very strongly that Artweeks should be about demonstrating your craft and not just selling your work.

“I will demonstrate what I do and am hoping there will be a constant stream of people coming through.

“I’ve taken part twice before and it is always great. You get to meet so many interesting people and there is always a very good dialogue.”

For more information, visit www.artweeks.org

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