Oxfordshire Artweeks Top Ten Picks from Around the County

Oxfordshire Artweeks presents the perfect opportunity to explore the county.

However, the scale of the country’s biggest and oldest open studio event can be somewhat daunting to the uninitiated, so I have scanned the Oxfordshire Artweeks Guide and created a shortlist of my top picks by area. Happy travels…

City of Oxford – 7 to 15 May 2016
1. Venue 22 – Tommy Watkins at 1C Circus Street, Oxford, OX4 1JR 
Watkins’ large, graphic, abstracted mixed-media and oil paintings are inspired by his youth growing up in the inner-city of Rochester, New York. Surrounded by poverty and violence the young artist turned to art as a form of therapy, translating his emotions into bright colours and bold, abstract, carefully balanced shapes that will feel at home amongst the multi-cultural vibrancy of Watkins’ East Oxford exhibition venue. 
2. Venue 36 - Lucy Phillips at 62 Warwick Street, Oxford, OX4 1SX
Repetitive, monochromatic shapes and patterns give Phillips’ works the appearance of tapestries or microcontroller boards – all alluding to an overhead, busy, man-made view of the world. In fact, they are screen-prints, and intricately assembled woven and collaged laser-prints on ply board that are influenced by the city and on display in the leafy Iffley Fields area of Oxford, an area of the city that families flock to in order to escape the scenes represented in Phillips’ artwork.
3. Venue 119 - Mike England at Walton Bridge Moorings, Walton Well Road, Oxford, OX2 6ED 
Exhibiting in a quiet, contemplative spot in Jericho England is displaying a selection of large, abstract paintings that together form a map of the artist’s quest for visual harmony. England’s beautiful works are an exploration of the balance and tension between colour, texture, and line; between order and chaos.

South Oxfordshire – 14 to 22 May 2016
4. Venue 281 - Johannes von Stumm at Farmyard Studio, South Fawley Farm, Wantage, OX12 9NL
Visit the raw, rural surroundings of the internationally renowned sculptor, Johannes von stumm, in his farmyard studio. Captivated by the spiritual energy of a piece of art, and nothing else, von Stumm creates large, striking works of art in stone, glass and metal, fusing the materials together to create symbols of a finely balanced and fragile unity.
5. Venue 285 - Samantha Wadham at The Vine Mill, Faringdon Road, Stanford in the Vale, SN7 8NP
Samantha Wadham is a hugely talented, early-career artist and designer who makes wallpaper designs and intricate, sculptural works out of metals. Giving a contemporary twist to floral imagery, Wadham’s work is inspired by the metaphors and meanings of flowers. She has developed the idea of recreating a visual language that addresses the inequalities in class systems in societies. For Oxfordshire Artweeks Wadham will display work that explores the concept that society does not see the working classes as blossoming beauties, but instead as excluded, unwanted ‘weeds’.
6. Venue 292 Derek Gale at 13-17 London Street, Faringdon, SN7 7AE 
Experimentations with subject and scale make Gale’s abstract and semi-abstract Fine Art photography very intriguing. Gale often takes inspiration from the natural world and creates striking works that can be positioned among it, either indoors or outdoors. Gale is exhibiting his work in a gallery full of pianos for Oxfordshire Artweeks!

North Oxfordshire – 21 to 30 May 2016
7. Venue 360 - Sue Wightman at The Old Mission Hall Studios, Colony Road, Sibford Gower, OX15 5RY 
Wightman is a musician and artist who works in metal and found, reclaimed objects to create large-scale installations and small, intricate sculptures.  Wightman will be conducting metalwork demonstrations during the course of the exhibition in The Old Mission Hall Studios opposite The Wykham Arms Pub in the picturesque village of Sibford Gower.
8. Venue 354 - Jonathan Moss at 45 Spring Street, Chipping Norton, OX7 5NN
Moss creates video paintings and prints that transcend place and become spaces in which to lose oneself. Drawing inspiration from journeys, the interplay between the experience and memory of place, Moss’ meditative works explore the importance of quiet contemplation in a chaotic world. The works will be on display in the picture perfect Cotswold town of Chipping Norton.
9. Venue 399 - James Jackman at Dornley Barn, Westcote Barton, Near Chipping Norton, OX7 7AD
James Jackman is presenting a new body of work inspired mainly by local landscape for this exhibition in a barn beside a 450-year-old manor house and gardens. Jackman’s semi-abstract images explore mark-making, colour and the spatial tension between painted and collaged elements.

In and around Witney, North Oxfordshire – 21 to 30 May 2016 
10. Lastly, there is a hub of notable artists exhibiting within a stone’s throw of one another in and around the market town of Witney. Those artists include sculptor Richard Fox (exhibiting at venue 419, ceramicist Crabby Taylor, exhibiting at venue 426, mixed-media artist Jennifer Newman, exhibiting at venue 424, and printmaker Nimmi Naidoo exhibiting at venue 423.

By Sarah Mayhew Craddock

• Oxfordshire Artweeks www.artweeks.org in North Oxon & the Cotswolds 21st-30th
• The whole festival runs from 7th-30thwith a focus on Oxford city from 7th-15th and S Oxon 14th-22nd.
• Artweeks is celebrated across Oxfordshire in partnership with local arts centres, museums, and other Oxfordshire organisations, with support from The Oxford Times and Hamptons International.
• Artweeks is Oxfordshire’s largest visual arts festival and the UK’s oldest and biggest Open Studios event, is a three-week not-for-profit celebration in May each year of the county’s artistic and creative talent encompassing the visual arts in their broadest sense. Around 1000 artists open the doors to their homes and studios and welcome the public to see their creations and watch them work –over 100,000 people visit Artweeks exhibitions each year and a million pounds of art changes hands!