Pippa Smith, Didcot

If you’re not heading down to the coast over the Bank Holiday fear not because South Oxfordshire’s artists have been hard at work to offer you a wonderful alternative, as the final week of Oxfordshire Artweeks opens.

Start by venturing into the Town Hall in Watlington, an Artweeks ‘honeypot’ of a town that’s bursting with venues along the length of its High Street, where printmaker Mark ‘Lino’ Lord is celebrating his love of Cornwall and its characterful coastline.

“I’m Cornish born and bred, as are my parents and grandparents before me,” he explains. “I grew up in a small village a couple of miles from Falmouth, close enough for the sea to play a huge part in my life.

Mark’s prints delve into the rich history of Cornish craft, embracing timeless printmaking techniques to capture fascinating natural and iconic imagery. Each print is entirely handmade – from the first sketch, to inking the lino and turning the wheel of the press. “I enjoy the honest, analogue process and no two prints are ever the same,’ he says. (Artweeks listing 355)

  • There are more boats just down the road at Watlington Club where the Watlington Photographers Collective are showing their art, social documentary photographer Dee Robinson’s focus is the boats along the East coast. some abandoned.

“I spent much of my youth near the sea and boats. To me boats are objects of beauty, elegant of line yet practical. Wandering along the seashore recently and seeing these beautiful boats beached appearing to be abandoned unloved and gently decaying, I needed to somehow preserve them, at least on paper,” she said.
(Artweeks listing 380)

  • Opposite in Watlington Library (Artweeks listing 375) you will come across the work of Steph Hicks, an artist for whom, she says, an ideal day is spent foraging in the great outdoors – cooking most of what she finds and drawing the rest. Her drawings are fresh and engaging – and you can almost smell the sea! 

Steph says “We sailed around the UK coast last summer which took three months, and although painting on a wobbly boat wasn’t possible, I banked all the different flora and fauna – such amazing species- to paint for this year’s exhibition. It was a great way to re-live our amazing trip.”


You’ll even find puffins in Wantage where John Gunter is turning several rooms in his home into a pop-up gallery (Artweeks listing 492). His work feels like an excursion to the beach on a summer’s day. Think blue seas and sail boats beneath bright skies, golden sand and puffins painted on slate and driftwood.

“I find beauty in even the most discarded of waste materials, breathing new life into these objects and the landscapes they inhabit. Each piece is a unique journey of time and place, capturing both natural elements and my imagination,” he says.

John Gunter
  • Jeweller Vicky Cumming in North Moreton (venue 439) also has a great love for the sea, her beachcombing treasures often finding their way into her jewellery. “I often incorporate pebbles, shells or sea glass in my work following a beachcombing session and tend to choose natural colours or organic shapes,” she explains.
  • “The shapes of things spat out by the sea have really influenced my work.”

At home in Fernham near Faringdon (Artweeks venue 501), ceramicist Nigel Edwards presents a body of work ‘Time and Tide‘ inspired by the power and majesty of the sea’s movement, as well as the raw beauty of our coastal environment. In his sculptural ceramics Nigel uses mimetic glazes to represent the sea’s relationship with tides and the moon.


A trip to the coast wouldn’t be the same without a seafood platter, and this is what inspired Artweeks newcomer Pippa Smith in Aston Tirrold (Artweeks venue 446) see main pic. Taking inspiration from her Hispanic heritage, Oxford-born Pippa transports us to the warmth of the Mediterranean through her bright and quirky still-life paintings, using a bold colour pallet and impressionistic brush strokes. Her depictions of seafood and other table settings are modern celebrations of the traditional still-life genre.

In the neighbouring village, Blewbury, Julian March’s blue and white crockery evokes the feeling of a holiday by the sea and offers the perfect vehicle to present seafood and soul food on an Oxfordshire table. (Artweeks venue 456)

Julian march-didcot-south-vale-

If you want to see multiple disciplines all under one roof, then head to Ayres House Open Studios in Wallingford (Artweeks venue 421). From ceramics, painting, drawing, textiles, sound, installation, conceptual and process lead art, photography, print, conservation and writing, the theme of sea and coast is still visible there. Artists taking part include Aniko Dioszegi, Laura Hodgson, Lisa Clark, Simon Horton, Amy Hughes, Laura Murphy Ceramics, Nichola Nixon, Jacqueline Pearce, Pickford Pots, Aneta Pochatko, Emma Souter, Gareth Rees, Elements, Ian Potter and Raph and Rose.

The Gallery at Ayres House Studios

South Oxon and Vale of White Horse Artweeks runs until May 27. Find out more here https://www.artweeks.org/festival