Nic Vickery

Three very different artists are exhibiting together during the first week of Oxfordshire Artweeks, one of whom is celebrating 21 years at the revered festival.

Christopher Townsend, well-known for his tree sculptures of metal forests, leaping fish, giant dragonflies, huge ‘Day of the Triffids’ seedheads a metre in diameter and small characters made from horseshoe nails, will be joining Nic Vickery and Guen Palmer to exhibit in a former blacksmith’s and 1968 caravan studio ‘Gertie’, at Asthall, between Witney and Burford.

So make sure you head down to The Old Forge in Asthall’s barn and workshop just off the A40 from 1st-9th May, to view the tree sculpture, animal painting and jewellery, as venues in North and West Oxfordshire throw open their doors to welcome you in.

“I am really looking forward to welcoming people to the workshop again!”

Christopher Townsend for one is delighted to finally exhibiting for real again: “Last year I couldn’t hold a physical exhibition during Artweeks, because of coronavirus, so I am really looking forward to welcoming people to the workshop again!” he says.

Christopher Townsend’s work

“I’ll paint Anything as long as it’s got fur, feathers or scales!”

Alongside Chris’s work, visitors will also be able to browse delicate elegant jewellery in silver and gold by Guen Palmer who sets gemstones – from diamonds to subtly coloured rainbow moonstones and tourmalines – into earrings, rings and necklaces adding precise and intricate surface decoration.

Guen Palmer’s jewellery

The third artist to join them is animal painter Nic Vickery whose life-long love of animals set her on an artistic path. Today her realistic and intricate portraiture includes dogs, horses, cats, and prize cows, pigs and chickens. ‘Anything as long as it’s got fur, feathers or scales!’ she chuckles.

Her pastel drawings however are also joyfully quirky – from a Morris Dancing magpie to Prudence the Puffin who is all set for a swim.

Prudence the puffin

The exhibition will include Nic’s delicate pen and ink hares and other wildlife: “I started experimenting with all the colours of the natural world and a new way to bring my animal drawings to life.” Her latest series, new for 2021’s Artweeks, uses metallic inks; the fox, the hare and the badger set against an art nouveau backdrop decorated in silver and gold.

So make sure you head down to the former blacksmiths, complete with Gertie’, a 1968 caravan and now mobile garden studio and exhibiting space, which had a cameo role in the 2019 film Rocketman (the story of Elton John’s life), between 11am and 5pm everyday between the 1st and the 9th of May.

Nic Vickery

Oxfordshire Artweeks is the UK’s oldest and biggest open studios and pop-up exhibition event, and the 39th edition this spring builds on the legacy of last’s year’s lockdown, offering both a virtual festival and a selection of more than 200 Covid-secure venues to visit from 1st -23rd May.

Over 600 artists – including 100 new faces – are taking part in pop-up exhibitions and on-line to showcase their creative talent. Their creations range from paintings and photography to pottery and jewellery, stained glass, mosaics, textile art, furniture, sculpture and installations. Visitors to both venues and virtual studios will be able to hear artists talking about their inspiration, explaining their materials and, often, demonstrating their methods. 

For those who aren’t able to travel to visit venues, Oxfordshire Artweeks is also presenting a virtual festival with 23 themed art trails to explore. In a series of on-line exhibitions, visitors can see thousands of pieces of art, watch videos of artists at work, take studio tours and celebrate a different theme every day on social media.