Art that stimulates every sense across Oxfordshire this month

Feb 01 2017

Art that stimulates every sense across Oxfordshire this month.

The weather may not be the best Britain has to offer this month, but there are still plenty of reasons to get out and about, and whilst the Jurassic skeletons of Oxford’s Museum of Natural History are always interesting, you can be surprised by a far more contemporary dinosaur later this month in the SOTA Gallery in Witney, a stylish gallery which showcases local art, sculpture, jewellery and ceramics. From 9th February until the end of March, it is hosting a replica of the dinosaur skull belonging to Tristan Otto, a one of the best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimens worldwide perched atop a locally-carved sculptural base. Andrew Harrison, sculptor and co-owner of the gallery explains “When you start work on a new piece you never quite know what to expect, what you’ll find inside, what patterns will reveal themselves, not unlike the way in which a paleontologist uncovers a fossil.”

Over in Woodstock this month, a new collection of paintings inspired by the Jurassic coastline are on show in Junction Art Gallery. These land and seascapes verge on the abstract while capturing the changing weather in the Wiltshire and Dorset countryside. These captivating paintings exude light, and Laura’ confident use of colour picks out the subtleties of rich purples and blues in a storm cloud or the yellow-pink tinge in a calm evening sky. The appeal of Laura’s work is partly in their familiarity; she is less concerned with the figurative aspect of the landscape itself, although it is always her starting point, instead hoping to capture the history of the moment in which she was at that place, her experience mirroring that of many others who have stood there before or come afterwards. “I hope my work provokes a memory or stirs an emotion in the onlooker,” she explains.

Stirring memories of the 1950s, until 18th February, Oxford’s North Wall Arts Centre is presenting 50 photographs of teddy girls and boys, taken by Ken Russell (1927-2011) who worked as a freelance photographer before becoming a film director which even then he considered as ‘film stills’. These are among the first photographs to capture fledgling youth culture in London. Rediscovered after 50 years, they exude the attitude of these youngsters at funfairs, leaning on brick walls, and lurking in gangs on derelict East End bombsites.

Then, from 22nd Feb as part of the Oxford International Women’s Festival and for International Women’ s Day, The North Wall presents a multimedia exhibition H’ATCHED 2017 which includes Harriet Rutter’s photographic still life series Bullfinch – Semiotics of Birds which explores child exploitation and Fiona Yaron-Field’s Safe Haven, a series of portraits of pregnant women who know their baby will be born with Down’s syndrome challenging the ‘ideal’ image of family.

To add cheer to your afternoon, Summertown’s Sarah Wiseman Gallery evokes the joy and heady scent of a colourful spring with ‘Bloom’ in which two artists with complementary styles explore flowers in all forms – growing wild, gathered in bunches or adorning print and pattern. Alongside, Sally Stafford who is well known for her expressive landscape painting, Charlotte Hardy investigates pattern and whimsical detail through her drawings and sketchbooks, creating still life paintings that are both loosely expressive and closely observed. She is interested in life’s little pleasures; cake stands, tea-pots and flowers bunched in vases are among her favourite subjects as well as curious shop-fronts and window displays that draw the eye. Visitors can expect to see a stunning new collection of paintings that explore assortments of objects and flowers, assembled together to form naturally occurring pattern.

In central Oxford at the Old Fire Station Gallery, you consider a different sense, that of touch with a ‘Haptic/Tacit’ exhibition ‘ where five emerging makers and their mentors have pushed the boundaries of conventional ideas on what constitutes contemporary craft: rather than producing functional products or even, in some cases, permanent objects they are led by ideas, material, methodologies and process. Alterntively, in The Jam Factory’s Boiler Room, Marcin Kulabko, a Polish artist based in Oxford wets your taste-buds with his observations of the mundane and social acts of the people of his surroundings, and applies nameless characters, objects and patterns to paper with coloured marker-pen producing playful pieces that touch on surrealism.

And for colourful hubbub and hustle in Oxford’s Town Hall, there’s a show of 2D and 3D art from the Oxford Art Society throughout the month and The Oxford International Art Fair comes to town (24th-26th February). Look out for Art Cave, a small Oxford-based printing house with a focus is on screen printing, etching and using a lost wax technique to create sculpture, and from London, InVogue Art Gallery are also planning a presence with an original Damien Hirst. With a wealth of variety, there’s sure to be something to suit every taste from vibrant kiln-formed glass every colour of the rainbow to delicate paper cuts, travels captured on canvas or more local scenes to carry home with you. Oxfordshire village Bampton, where the popular drama Downton Abbey was filmed, makes an appearance in the delicately-populated paintings of artist Pip Shuckburgh, and if you are heading out to Bampton to pay homage to the place where the series was shot, then pop into West Ox Arts Gallery in Bampton’s market square where a Monochrome exhibition runs from 4th-26th February.

Good places to see art this month:
A contemporary dinosaur and more
at SOTA Gallery, 11 Langdale Gate, Witney OX28 6FG
The Jurassic coastline, by Laura Rich and other art
Junction Art Gallery, 43 Oxford St, Woodstock OX20 1TJ

Ken Russell’s Teddy Girls & Boys 1- 18th February
Hatched 2017 22 February – 11 March 2017
at North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Oxford OX2 7JN

Bloom (4th – 25th February)
at Sarah Wiseman Gallery, 40-41 South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JL

Crowds: Marcin Kulabko (until 5th March 2017)
The Jam Factory, Hollybush Row, Oxford OX1 1HU

Oxford International Art Fair (24th-26th February)
Oxford Town Hall St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1BX

Monochrome: a multi-artist exhibition (4th-26th February)
West Ox Arts Gallery, Town Hall, Market Square, Bampton OX18 2JH

Also, Lubaina Himid: Invisible Strategies (until 30 April)
Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke St, Oxford OX1 1BP

Across the county there is a wealth of art on show in Oxfordshire this month – for a list of galleries and art venues that host a variety of changing exhibition programmes visit www.artweeks.org/OGN.