Anne James takes a look at the vast range of art on offer around the county at this year’s Artweeks event

With three weeks of groundbreaking work on view at locations the length and breadth of the county, Oxfordshire Artweeks is a dream for art fans.

And no one is more excited than the event’s organiser Esther Lafferty, who describes the annual festival of painting, sculpture, ceramics and more, as providing “art for everyone”.

“This is the longest running and biggest open studios event in the UK,” she says proudly, running through some of the 1,000 artists and designers who are preparing for more than 400 exhibitions and events.

That list includes 150 first-timers. Artweeks opens in the north of the county, followed by a city week and then one in the south, and each offers a cornucopia of visual treats.


In the north of the county, Banbury has a particularly strong and diverse set of exhibitions including an open exhibition of work inspired by water at the Mill Arts Centre.

Of local interest, will be Gena Johns’ 3D hand-cut photographic and digital collages on wood, which are on show at thw Day and Nightcare Assistance Office in Banbury. Johns grew up in the town, and is of Japanese heritage. Her work explores both that heritage and the contemporary culture in which she lives.

Charlbury is playing host to 14 artists including Sue Rangeley, who uses her exquisite textile and embroidery work to make both abstract pieces and garments, drawing her inspiration from both the botanical world and from the nature of embroidery itself. In Collar for Clarice, she was inspired by both marigolds and the splashy oranges of Clarice Cliff ceramics.

Her work is on show at ‘Egypt’ in The Playing Close.

An artist described only as ‘Rona’ is showing 50 paintings at the Hemingway Gallery in Cassington. Her focus is, in the main, on portraits of women – some older, some younger, some pregnant and some as mothers. In Untitled, she captures the elegant and pensive nature of a handsome woman.


The city is home to Kamal Koria, this year’s winner of the Mary Moser Award, an award intended to reward a professional artist who has taken up their career in later life. Formerly a graphic designer, Koria now paints in the vibrant colours of his native India creating stylised images that capture both human nature and a moving nostalgia for his own childhood. See him at home in 15 Barrington Close, Headington.

In celebration of the city’s museum collections Wendy Skinner-Smith will be showing her recent work of the newly-refurbished Museum of Natural History, at home in 48 Helen Road.

The rural aspects of the city are not forgotten either, John Blandy’s paintings (Overford Farm, Wytham) capture the changing mood of the Seacourt Stream.

Also at Wytham, potter Jim Keeling, of Whichford Potters, will be working with established Japanese potters to showcase an arts and science project using long willow-woven kilns for firing.

Artweeks also provides a second opportunity and a recommended one, for those who missed it last year to see Paddy Summerfield’s Mother and Father, a garden installation at 337 Banbury Road, where Summerfield recorded his parents’ devoted relationship and its change as his ageing mother’s dementia increased.

In the Fair Trade Shop at St Michael in the Northgate, artist-in-residence Feng Ho has created a fun series of collages of a fantasy wonderland made from the shop’s Fair Trade products.

Oxford Mail:
Robert Strange at work on his Squashed series


In the south of the county, Abingdon’s County Hall plays host to an exhibition of Roman inspired silverware created by five artist silversmith/jewellers. Each of the pieces has been inspired by artefacts that were dug up in the Abingdon area.

The Peach Croft Barn Artists are showing their work in another delightful venue: a restored threshing barn, in Twelve Acre Drive.

The work of the eight artists includes finely potted blue and white porcelain coastal pottery by Alison Jones featuring ceramic fishing harbours. They sit alongside imposing wooden sculptures by Andrew Harrison, which are both substantial and tactile, his approach and technique playing to the strength and beauty of the wood.

Wheatley is where Siobhan Fraser will be at work creating icons. She employs age-old Byzantine methods, using natural pigments applied to wooden panels enhanced by water gilding. See her at College Farm in High Street.

In Harwell, meanwhile, Robert Strange will be showing his unusual Squashed series, in which bits and pieces with no apparent affinity are put together to create amusing wholes.

Artweeks provides the public with the opportunity to experience a wide range of art and design and in many cases to learn how pieces are made. The rest is up to you.

Details on Artweeks can be found at and free printed guides are available from libraries, galleries and public information points