Oxfordshire Artweeks is moving online in a bid to showcase the hundreds of artists who take part in the annual May festival.
However, a small number of exhibitions plan to remain open to visitors, including the sculpture park at Kingham Lodge which is set in five acres of landscaped gardens.
Oxfordshire Artweeks is the UK’s oldest and biggest open studios and pop-up exhibition event, but in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the 38th festival which takes place from May 2-25, has had to rethink, and decided to become a virtual festival this year instead.
“with so many artists relying on Artweeks for their livelihoods we are doing our best to continue to support them at this difficult time, so if something catches someone’s eye, they can still buy it, or arrange to see it”
Visitors will not only be able to appraise the thousands of pieces of artwork online but also watch video footage of the artists at work, enjoy ‘walk through’ exhibitions and buy art online.
Images of the thousands of pieces of work created by Oxfordshire’s painters, potters, silversmiths, textile and glass artists, furniture makers and others can then be bought online or appointments made to see the work in person.
(Individual artists will need to be contacted personally through relevant links on the Artweeks website, for any sales).
With 100,000 people visiting Oxfordshire Artweeks exhibitions each year and 1500 artists taking part, festival director Esther Lafferty implores its regular audience to ensure that the festival and its artists are still supported by those at home.
“Oxfordshire Artweeks this year is about enabling people to continue to enjoy the incredible array of art available in the county,” Esther says.
“Hopefully it will also provide entertainment for those who are self isolating or distancing themselves, to still take part and enjoy Artweeks.
“So you will be able to watch an artist painting live or making a pot, or have a tour through a studio and the exhibition within given by the artist themselves.
“We know how many people would be disappointed if Artweeks was cancelled,” Esther continues.
“And while it’s sad to limit what Oxfordshire Artweeks can provide, it’s opened up some really exciting new options for our audience, while enabling us to act responsibly.
“And with so many artists relying on Artweeks for their livelihoods we are doing our best to continue to support them at this difficult time.
“So if something catches someone’s eye, they can still buy it, or arrange to see it.”
Organising all that in such a short space of time must have been challenging? “It’s been an absolutely crazy 10 days,” Esther agrees, “and we have had to think on our feet to enable Oxfordshire Artweeks to continue.
“But we are pleased with the amazing response to our plans, and just hope that everyone still takes part, even if it is from the safety of their living rooms.”
Oxfordshire Artweeks 2nd-25th May 2020 http://www.artweeks.org