The county blossoms with art this month as Artweeks bursts into life. Almost 500 venues invite art-lovers in to enjoy their paintings, photography, textiles, pottery, jewellery, sculpture and practically ever other form of art and craft.

The feast of creativity starts this weekend with artists in north and west Oxfordshire opening up their studios until May 13, followed by Oxford city from May 12-20 and concluding with south Oxfordshire from May 19-28.

Start, perhaps, with the bold and colourful equine paintings by Abigail Boisot. From polo in Kirtlington to horse-racing and dressage, Abigail captures the movement and energy of the horses she depicts.

“In my equine paintings, I use a combination of photographs and sketches of polo and racing to produce pictures dominated by movement and colour,” she says. “I use abstract shapes, gesture painting and a bold application of brush strokes to capture the passion and dynamism of these sports,” she explains.

Although most well-known for her equine pictures, Abigail is also captivated by the landscape she sees every day while walking her dogs in Steeple Aston, and, in particular, a local folly.

“It’s a sham ruin from the 18th century with three arches, buttresses and rubble pinnacles which dominates the skyline,” she says. “I find it quite fascinating seeing it in different lights and seasons. It seems to be an organic thing which has a semi elliptical quality to it. It is a striking and inspiring structure.”

Abigail’s work depicts the building’s shape on the horizon in both paint and print, using various print techniques and a wide range of colour – from light sunny days to brooding moody fields, satsuma orange and brilliant blues alongside monochrome etching.

“Wherever I am, I see an intensity in the colours in the landscape that other people perhaps don’t see and I’m always trying to recreate that strength of colour in my paintings,” she explains. “I start with four or five strong colours, usually two organic colours and then add a couple more wild choices, perhaps bold blues or greens, rather than using many different shades.”

Also visit botanical artist Julia Loken, who you’ll find in her 200 year old house in Eynsham, surrounded by beautiful flowerbeds and vegetable gardens.

“I am very fortunate to have a large garden, where I can indulge my passion for plant collecting, and cultivate many of the plants that I wish to paint – vegetables, ferns, and leaves, as well as flowers,” she says.

Julia is a botanical illustrator whose Artweeks exhibition A Passion for Plants captures perfectly both the delicacy and vibrancy of flowers, with wonderful colours and an often organic symmetry.

Just a short stroll away, textile artist Suzy Wright uses rich coloured cotton on calico, painting with her needle to create bold fresh fruit and vegetables, rich with light and shade, her hanging embroidery threads, her signature style. The fabric too is allowed to distort under the pressure of the stitching to emphasise the organic nature of her subject matter.

For potter Claire Powell, exhibiting in the airy West Ox Arts Gallery in Bampton, it’s the shapes she sees in her country garden and surrounding hills and valleys that inspire her thrown earthenware in striking jewel colours.

Sometimes muted to give them an ethereal quality, Claire’s love of nature is evident in the designs of her mugs, jugs, bowls, and cheese domes, all thrown on a wheel. Featuring leaves picked from the garden or hedgerows, she uses lupin, cow parsley, herb-robert, ferns and other plants, often overlaying them to give a 3D effect.

In Chadlington, as part of a varied exhibition by six artists, Celia Crampton’s acclaimed botanical paintings and drawings, on both paper and vellum, are inspired by nature and rendered with such striking accuracy you’ll wonder at the delicacy of the drawn marks and the amusing detail in her paintings, a humorous twist or a thoughtful addition, engaging the viewer beyond mere aesthetics.

Also in Chadlington, Mary Knowland reinterprets fruit and still life to evoke the essence of the subject. Stroll outside and enjoy stone carving by John Joekes who captures frozen moments in the landscape, combining the longevity of the material with a poetical simplicity which spills over into his contemplative sculpture.

Kingham Lodge near Chipping Norton opens its grounds with sculptures by more than 70 artists created from bronze, stone, wood and glass. Along rhododendron-rich walkways, reflected in waters and standing proud in an Islamic garden beside an Alhambra-inspired pavilion, there’s something to catch your attention.

Whatever your artistic penchant, Artweeks has something for everyone. It’s just up to you to find it over the next three weeks.

  • Artweeks 2018 runs from Saturday to May 28, at various venues, starting with a week-long focus on north and west Oxfordshire
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