An art studio in Wallingford is celebrating its first birthday with a two week winter festival of art, showcasing the best of local independent artists.   

Take your pick from ceramics, drawing, furniture, jewellery, mixed and new media, painting, photography, pottery and printmaking when you visit Ayres House Studios during its upcoming two week art festival from November 28-Dec 12.

Having adapted its original plans to accommodate the November lockdown, the gallery exhibition will run virtually from the November 28 and then open to the public from the Dec 2-6, with Covid-safe access to some of the studios.

There is also an online shop for those uncertain about venturing out. https://www.ayreshousestudios.co.uk/gallery-shop

Assemblage by Yolande Nye

Studio manager Emma Souter says: “So many pre-Christmas events have been cancelled due to uncertainty, so we think it’s great that there is something Christmassy to look forward to as a community. We’re hoping that people will support local business and independent makers and come and see the work the artists produce at Ayres House.”

Artists taking place include Emily Cox, Laura Murphy, Jo Ferguson, Aniko Dioszegi, Becky Colwell, Emma Souter, Karen Goonewardene, Yolande Nye, Kristina Paxton and Kate Pullan.

“it’s really important to do our level best to hold a Covid safe festival this winter so that our artists have an outlet for their fantastic work”

Watch throwing videos from the Ceramics Annex

A separate exhibition, aptly named ‘adapt’, is running from Sat Nov 28 – Sun Dec 6, described as ‘a hopeful exhibition’ of works by members in the Studio Gallery, reflects on how their work, processes or thinking has helped adapt to change and this new unsteady future.

Painting restoration by Brushstrokes Ecsetvonas

The Sunday pop-up market on December 6 will still take place, selling artwork, crafts and gifts made by selected local makers.

At the end of the festival, between December 8-12, certain artists will hold small craft workshops from wreath making to African drumming, bunting and festive mosaics, where members of the public can make unique crafts, Christmas gifts and decorations in the education room. 

Many of the activities will be filmed and shared on social media, alongside podcasts featuring some of the artists. 

Lockdown’ Textiles collage by Becky Colwell

“October marked our first birthday and what a year it’s been,” Emma Souter, continues. “We had grand plans for lots of events throughout the year which have obviously been disrupted. So it’s really important to do our level best to hold a Covid-safe festival this winter so that our artists have an outlet for their fantastic work.”

Despite Covid, the number of artists in residence at Ayres House Studios has grown from 9 to 16, with demand for affordable creative workspaces seemingly greater than ever. 

Demonstrations by Upholsterer Kate Pullan 

The former rectory hosts local artists and makers across a variety of disciplines, in their own studio space, alongside a shared exhibition and education space on the ground floor.

Resident artists consist of interdisciplinary arts practitioners, painters, sculptors, potters, writers, upholsterers, jewellers and a small number of associate artists who join the exhibitions.

Make a ‘Pique Assiette’ (Stolen plate) Christmas decoration with Joanna Ferguson

Work will also be on sale on the studio’s website http://www.ayreshousestudios.co.uk

For the Sunday market, Ayres Yard has gated access and will restrict the number of visitors to maintain social distancing. (Visitors can pre book a time slot online). 

There will be a donation station on entry to Ayres Yard in December, with any monies raised going to help support the studios. 

Go to www.ayreshousestudios.co.uk or @ayreshousestudios on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with what’s going on. 

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