Esther Lafferty explores some of the more unusual art offerings from artists and designer-makers in the north of the county as the Oxfordshire Artweeks Festival heads into its final week, and hundreds of local artists welcome you to more than 150 art spaces from 21st-30th May.


Christopher Cattle is a British furniture maker who has developed a process of growing furniture by shaping the growth of saplings. So that the process required to create a finished piece of furniture from the tree is very simple.

Ecologically-minded, Chris explains that, "while growing furniture isn't going to save the planet, it can show that it's possible to create genuinely useful things without adding to the pollution that industry inevitably seems to produce."

He adds: "Trees are self-generating, and the only energy needed is that which the sun provides worldwide. It's free and it's non-polluting."

You can be amazed by Chris’s finished stools at St Mary’s Church in Kidlington (Artweeks venue 446) and, if you like, carry away a template to have a go at growing your own. They are the perfect Father’s Day gift for the avid gardener.

St Mary’s also hosts more traditional artwork, including paintings by Oxford artist Steve Daggitt who paints the architecture, people and streets of Oxford, conveying the sense of excitement and dynamism that these things give to the city, whether the flow of a crowd in the street, the seemingly chaotic movement at a junction, figures dissolved in the light of a midday sun or low winter light glowing on the upper stories of buildings.

Delicate drawings in wire

In Woodstock, The Junction Art Gallery is a hidden gem showing a variety of work by British-based artists and makers, and for Artweeks they are celebrating ‘craft’. It’s well worth the trip to see Helaina Sharpley’s fascinating 3d wire drawings from teacups to elegant Victorian lampposts. These blur the boundaries of drawing and sculpture, the view changing as you move across the picture and view the picture from different angles. Beneath them you’ll also find stunning small wood and iron sculptures by nationally-acclaimed sculptor David Mayne. Mayne uses laser-cut steel on a wooden base to capture enchanting miniature scenes such as a peaceful woodland with a lone deer or boxing hares on gently rolling hills. The grain of the wooden base for his sculptures is accentuated through scorching and the rusted finish of the metal creates fascinating textures and depth.

In Woodstock too, leading 21st century goldsmiths and silversmiths Woldstone invite you in to see their jewellery and celebrate their first anniversary, and the new paintings four established local painters decorate the walls of the Kyffin Gallery, alongside traditional work from previous centuries.

Shakespeare brought up-to-date with a paintbrush

To find the traditional brought slap bang up-to-date in glorious watercolour, head to Eynsham where Jane Tomlinson’s paintbrush presents the Complete Works of Shakespeare in glorious technicolour. Jane was born and bred in Stratford-upon-Avon, and grew up with Shakespeare’s influence all around so to mark the 400th anniversary of his death, she it would be fun to make a painting of all his plays in their approximate geographic position, from Hamlet and Macbeth to Antony and Cleopatra, before exiting pursued by a bear, to quote from the Bard. The result is the centrepiece of a colourful and light-hearted exhibition (Artweeks venue 438).

Just round the corner (Artweeks venue 436) designer-maker Peter Shrimpton, after a career in heating engineering and surveying, is taking part in Artweeks for the first time at The Swan. Realising that there’s no need for radiators to be dull white rectangles, he has engineered some that are rather more wacky including a cactus, a rocket, and cheese and crackers!

Snow monsters in Yarnton

Down the road, tucked in a small wooden shed at the back of an old house in Yarnton, its outbuildings now converted into a number of pottery studios, you’ll find funky contemporary porcelain tableware at the cutting edge of modern design, each piece a crisp winter white that look as clean and delicate as falling snow on age-old farms. These contemporary series, set to delight the interior designer inside you, have been created by Kina Gorska in her quaint garden studio which is next door to the studio of a very different potter, Andrew Hazelden. Throughout the week, Kina is keen to show visitors the process through which she casts each piece – from interlinked finger mugs, bowls with taps, topographic designs and fun porcelain monsters! What will you choose?