Issue 70 — May, 2011
Week of wall-to-wall art
Hub of Artweeks action
Jericho has become a major centre of Oxfordshire Artweeks, which this year will run in Jericho from May 21-30. Oxford’s was the first Artweeks in the country, and it is still by far the largest.
According to one of Jericho’s prominent artists, Valerie Petts of Cardigan Street, “Artweeks is such an amazing organization. With so many venues it has become much more of a festival. It’s not about big commercial things. Anybody in the community is free to put their work up. And people need not feel intimidated about visiting all these places and looking at art.”
Jericho has long been a centre for artists, with neighbours working away in vastly contrasting styles. Those in Great Clarendon Street, for example, range from David Langford’s traditional scenes of Oxford to Lulu Wong Taylor’s dramatic jungle scenes from Borneo.
With more than 45 sites in Jericho and Walton Manor in 2011, the Artweeks shows promise to be the most spectacular in the event’s 30-year history. Most exhibits are paintings but there also many other art forms, including glasswork, sculpture, jewellery and photography.
Venues too have become much more diverse. The Community Centre has had two art studios on the top floor for some years. But we now also have the Art Jericho gallery in King Street. And many local cafés will have exhibitions. Footsore art enthusiasts can also get a cup of tea at St. Barnabas Church which, in addition to showcasing local artists, has pictures from the Gatehouse project, a drop-in centre for the homeless. With so many sites, there will be a special Jericho trail map.
Artweeks gives opportunities for all levels of skill and age. The youngest are those at St Barnabas School, but another notable example is 12-year old Lucien Ohanian of Shirley Place. Lucien is a photographer who has an uncanny eye for odd angles and shapes within everyday scenes. Last year, one of his images of a wine bottle was chosen for the cover of the Artweeks catalogue. He also won a prize from the O3 gallery at Oxford Castle.
Jericho is also an important hub outside Artweeks. The Oxfordshire Artists Network, for example, meets monthly at Manos in Walton Street.
This year Artweeks also has a special significance for Jericho because of a focus on one of Britain’s most important art movement, the Pre-Raphaelites. They included painters such as William Holman Hunt, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti who painted dramatic and realistic scenes of love and death. After they ran into heavy opposition from the press in London they retreated to Oxford, specifically to Jericho where they found a patron in Thomas Combe, the superintendent of the Clarendon Press who also built St Barnabas Church.
Jon Whiteley, Senior Assistant Keeper in the Department of Western Art at the Ashmolean says: “They might not even have survived without him. And to a certain extent they were painting pictures with him in mind. It was a true meeting of minds.” As part of Artweeks, Jon will be giving a free, illustrated talk, “The Pre-Raphaelites in Jericho” at St. Barnabas Church on Monday May 23 at 8.00 p.m.