Sarah Bond

Oxfordshire Artweeks is moving online with a daily theme to keep its thousands of fans happy. And first up is The Coast Art Trail – a video journey seen through the eyes of Oxfordshire artists.

“Each day of the festival we will be presenting a different themed art trail on the website giving visitors a chance to escape the lockdown with a trip to the sea, for example, where they can ‘stroll’ along craggy coastlines, see the splash of the waves, watch bobbing boats and even enjoy an ice-cream at the end of the day!” says Esther Lafferty, Festival Director.

“The shapes of things spat out by the sea have really influenced my work” Vicky Cumming

Take Oxfordshire artist Elaine Allender for example who pays homage to her childhood by the sea by painting Cornish harbour scenes.

Elaine Allender

“I was born in Polperro right next to the harbour and lived in the village until I was 14. I grew up swimming in the harbour, along the cliffs and off the beach. I played on the cliffs every day after school and must have absorbed all those the colours, tucked away somewhere. It’s only all these years later that I am now recreating those wonderful memories on canvas,” she said.

“Each painting is actually a very emotional experience,” says the Iffley artist.

Elaine Allender

Elaine also paints clifftop scenes: “The stretch between Polruan and Looe is in my mind when I paint. Walking the coastal path gives me the feeling that I’m nine years old again, that I can climb cliffs, dive into the blue and live as wild as the flowers that surround me.”

Jeweller Vicky Cumming is also inspired by the sea, creating sterling silver and wire necklaces, earrings and other pieces ranging from larger, chunkier, statement offerings, as well as small, delicate work, using traditional techniques to texture, form and solder. “I like to use organic, slightly irregular shapes in my jewellery –and seascapes lend themselves to curved lines,” she says. 

Vicky Cumming

“I love the sea, so it is often the inspiration for my work, and the results of my beachcombing often find their way into my jewellery. The beaches of Devon and Cornwall, and Chesil Beach in Dorset have great pebbles, and I often set sea glass and shells in silver too.

“The shapes of things spat out by the sea have also influenced my work – for example, a bangle inspired by seaweed, or pebble shaped earrings – and I love sea-coloured semi-precious stones which I incorporate into rings or pendants.”


Although the Artweeks festival is taking place online this year, Vicky normally exhibits her work alongside glass artist Sue Weinstock, who both live in Wolvercote. Sue is a keen dinghy sailor and enjoys using her paddle board out at sea. Her three dimensional waves give a feel of the outdoors, fresh air and sea spray through layers of colour, transparency and light.

Sue Weinstock

And it’s the sea that has influenced the most recent paintings of Oxford born artist and adventurer, Emmie van Biervliet who creates rich and quirky paintings inspired by journeys around the world, from India to Istanbul, and the memories, photos and sketches she gathers en route. 

Sailing South by Emmie van Biervliet 

Emmie now lives part-time on a sailing boat, and her collections include travel along the Norwegian coast, painting a collection of work depicting Norway, and more southerly European ports and towns across the infamous Bay of Biscay to Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands: “Travelling means that I am often able to paint and sketch while moving,” she explains.

Emmie van Biervliet

Walk-through exhibitions online for the festival include a trip into Sarah Bond’s Archangel studio in which her wild and expressive seascapes record a trip to rocky Icelandic shores.

“These powerful stormy seas,” says Sarah, “are a reminder of the challenge of Climate Change and melting glaciers and the need to protect our environment for the future.’

Sarah Bond

Sarah’s exhibition also includes a new series of work, Winds of Change, that illustrate the movement and grace of wind turbines while exploring how this new technology relates to the landscape. “I am fascinated by these gentle giants both on land and sea.” She continues: “They harness the power of the off-shore wind and create clean renewable energy.”

As for an ice-cream at the end of the day? Paper sculptor Graham Lester’s colourful ice-creams are an irresistible treat!

Graham Lester

“With thousands of pieces of art showcased, we hope people can still explore their annual Artweeks days out through the eyes of Oxfordshire artists and find a treasure to catch their eye,” Esther adds.


“With hundreds of creatives taking part in a social media celebration too, we hope to brighten up what, for many local people, will be long days for those in self-isolation or practicing social distancing.”

The Coast Art Trail – a video journey seen through the eyes of Oxfordshire artists – goes onto the website on May Bank Holiday, Monday May 4.

Oxfordshire Artweeks  May 2-25 2020
(South 2-10 May, North & West 9-17 May, City 16-25 May).


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