Here in Oxford, during the month of May, a festival celebrating all things art takes place: Oxfordshire ArtWeeks. Local artists display their work all over the county in open studios and spaces, and often in their own homes. It is one of my very favourite times of the year, and I love spending an afternoon on the ‘trail’ visiting different people and seeing creativity in all its forms. It’s so well organised and just a lovely, affirming thing. I think it’s an idea that has been taken up by other places, but the Oxford ArtWeeks is special to me. Not least because my friend, radio-presenter Bill Heine, was one of its founders. His own experiment with art has become one of Oxford’s most famous landmarks – The Shark House in Headington. People come from far and wide to see this wacky sculpture, I love it! Oxford has been home to me since 1983, so I have seen this festival grow and grow with each passing year.
This year I really wanted to support ArtWeeks in my shop on the Cowley Road, and so we have had a mini-exhibition of all of the work created here, by me and the team at HQ. There was a huge amount to display as I am lucky enough to be working with some very brilliant and creative people. I want to support any and all creativity and encourage my team to develop their own skills, be it screen printing, painting, jewellery making or textiles! Some people have created work all their lives and I loved showcasing their pieces. Holly who works in my studio with me creates fabulous screen prints, using imagery from endangered species native to the UK, including lots of birds and bees. Rudi in our Fabric Team is a very talented jewellery designer, using found objects that she forages for around Oxford and creates bespoke pieces, inspired by nature. Joanna, who works in Design, kindly showed her gorgeous green painting, I love that even though she is creative at work, she still loves painting as a relaxing pastime. Ann, one of my creative assistants, hand crafts these gorgeous pyjama sets for little ones out of vintage bed linen, just look at those candy stripes!
Each Tuesday we have a life-drawing class in my studio at HQ, everyone is welcome, regardless of ability or skill. What I love about our life drawing class is that you have people who haven't drawn since high school, people who draw regularly right down to some who have never drawn before! I love the variety and I think you will agree there is some serious talent on display.