The opportunity to exhibit at Blenheim Palace during its busiest time of the year, is one few would decline.
No surprise then that Artists in Woodstock snapped up the chance to take over The Stables Cafe there until Christmas with a display of 40 works of art, most of which are for sale.
Showcasing the work of 21 artists from the group, who range in age from 18-80, the theme of the exhibition is Past & Present, a fitting reflection on the palace’s mix of history and modernity.
Running throughout the busiest time in Blenheim’s calendar, including Halloween and Christmas, a quarter of a million visitors will now have the opportunity to enjoy this locally inspired art exhibition.
The works on display are a smorgasbord of styles, inspired by the artists own personal history and sense of today.
Caroline Parkes, founder of Artists in Woodstock said: “We are all super grateful to Blenheim Palace for giving us this opportunity, and very much hope that it might inspire more people to pick up a paintbush!”
The exhibition in The Stables Cafe follows hot on the heels of Woodstock’s ArtWeeks windows event earlier this year (read article here) when the same group exhibited in shop windows around the town, which turned out to be a massive success.
So what can we expect? Paintings galore from landscape to abstract, portrait to realism, ceramics, collage, photography and needlework and more, it’s all there for the seeing.
From new residents to long-term Woodstockers, student artists to established painters, part-timeers to professionals, they will all get their moment in the sun.
Olivia Davies, 18, who is studying fine art at Edinburgh University, and new to the Cotswold town said: “I am so thrilled for my art to be exhibited in the Artists in Woodstock show. (see main pic)
“This is my first time exhibiting here so I decided to create an oil painting about my first summer in Oxford. It is really a painting about love and the peace that it brings.
“As a young artist there aren’t many opportunities to gain recognition which is why I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
Alternatively Rod Craig, whose work is collected all over he world is displaying three watercolours which celebrate the seasons at Blenheim, painted by the long term resident in remote corners of the palace grounds.
In terms of different genres, take Hannah Cushion’s ‘Blenheim Palace after Rousseau, Surprised‘ celebrates the palace itself through vintage photography interwoven with modern crochet, with a vintage postcard’s contemporary reimagining. (see pic at top)
Caroline Parkes reenacts the euphoric atmosphere at Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics Orchestra at Nocturne earlier this year, with her colourful lights explosion, ‘Insomnia’.
Other artists, like Rana Ibrahim, are inspired by community. Rana is an Iraqi archaeologist and Artist Ambassador who left her home in Iraq two decades ago, and has made her home in Woodstock.
She is the founder of a group, Iraqi Women Art & War, which gives women affected by conflict an opportunity to process their experiences through art and creativity. Rana’s personal collage based art explores the power of community relationships during lockdown.
‘Fair Rosamund’ by Jane Greer (see above), takes a different approach, and inspired by Henry II’s mistress whose well can still be visited in the grounds at Blenheim. Jane’s ‘peer through the ages’ portraitis built by layering translucent oil.
MM Plumm’s ‘We are like oil and water’ is a more personal interpretation of the theme, whose abstract paintings remember her mother who was convinced her daughter would exhibit at Blenheim one day.
Nature provides inspiration for ceramicist Jane Topliss who has created ammonites embellished with gold, combined with ferns from her Woodstock garden.
Happy to be supporting the local art community, Blenheim’s Kate Bellenger, Keeper of Palace and Collections, said: “We’ve been surprised at the sheer amount of talent on our doorstep and are delighted to be able to give the Artists in Woodstock this opportunity.”
The exhibition will run until January 2, 2024 in The Stables Café. For more information about what’s on at Blenheim go to https://www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/