There are also events and talks including ‘Degenerate Art’
Around 1000 artists and designer-makers across the county of Oxfordshire welcome you this spring for Oxfordshire Artweeks
It's the longest-running and biggest ‘open studios’ event in the UK with painters and photographers, potters and sculptors, silversmiths and textile artists throwing open their doors to delight, amaze and inspire you from 3rd-26th May.
People travel from far and wide to visit more than four hundred exhibitions, and exploring the event is recommended in author Tom Jones’ recent book Mad Dogs and Englishmen: a year of things to see and do in England. And it’s all for free! Just pick up (or download) a festival guide and enjoy any number of art spaces in an afternoon.
There’s an exhibition exploring peoples' journeys through life; chronological, geographical, psychological, emotional and spiritual in Abingdon-on-Thames and, further along the river in Wallingford, an exhibition exploring the elements and the fundamental through photography, painting, drawing, jewellery and stone. For spontaneous and vital drawings catching the movement of the human body whether dancing or in repose, head to Witney and Chadlington or be delighted by the stunning colours in glass as you visit the Summertown studio of Oxford’s Vital Peeters, one of the country’s contemporary glass artists
There’s plenty to take in, to surprise and inspire, from silversmithing and stone carving to wood-turning and ethical fashion design, and interesting places to enjoy from country estates and sculpture garden to city warehouses and even a house boat.
There are also events and talks including ‘Degenerate Art’ (Sat & Sun 17-18th May 2.30-4pm at Braziers Park, Ipsden near Wallingford OX10 6AN), a debate on censorship about art which shocked’ to accompany an exhibition ‘To deprave and corrupt’. Fifty years ago John Latham painted an artwork on Braziers Park drawing room wall which was considered scandalous and was removed. If left, it might now be worth more that the estate and mansion together, and that which shocked and appalled is now viewed fondly, with regret for its passing.
Artist Profile: Martin Smith
A child in Bradford, Martin discovered Henry Moore as a young teenager and decided then and there that he’d like to become a sculptor. Inspired by the human form and shapes in nature Martin crafts his work from lumps of marble, alabaster, soapstone or other rocks, transforming large hunks of stone into tactile sculptures rich with organic colour, pinks and reds, ochre and sand, brown and green, or translucent in the sunlight. His sculptures are heavily influenced by the beauty of the female form; others are abstract or botanical, with pods and seeds figuring largely.
‘You can’t impose a fixed idea on stone,’ Martin explains to me, 'as you have to work with the softer and harder seams within a piece so it’s rather a two way process.' The shape of the sculpture evolves slowly therefore but it’s clearly worth it because once completed a marble statue can last for several thousand years. This is certainly art to keep!
- Esther Lafferty, Festival Director of Oxfordshire Artweeks