The quiet Oxfordshire village of Letcombe may be small, but it’s boasting 16 artists who are exhibiting at this year’s Art Weeks festival.
Nestling at the foot of the Downs, Letcombe Regis looks as though it’s come straight out of Sunday night TV central casting. Quiet, winding country lanes? Check. Local village pub full of locals? Check. Sun dappled church? Check.
However, look closer under the Midsomer Murders facade, and you’ll actually discover a hive of creativity. Potters, portrait artists, recycled crafters: you name it, Letcombe Regis has someone practicing it. So it’s unsurprising to learn that it is putting up an impressive number of artists for this year’s Oxfordshire Art Weeks festival.
Held between 14th and 21st May 2016, Oxfordshire Art Weeks offers free access to over 500 studios, exhibitions and galleries across the county.
“There’s a real variety of artists living here,” said Lizzie Philpott, who has helped the Letcombe artists exhibit their work. “There’s an amazing craftswoman who uses unwanted items as the basis of her art, a potter who trained in Japan and of course the more traditional oil and watercolourists.”
The potter in question is Lynne Frewer, who having tried topaint and draw, discovered her true vocation whilst living in Japan. “I learnt by watching the potters there,” she said. “They couldn’t speak English and my Japanese was non existent, but I understood what they were doing and wanted to do it myself. When you’re behind the potter’s wheel it’s organic, the work just grows out of your fingertips.”
The main Letcombe exhibits are being housed at the Richmond Village retirement community. It’s home to over 250 residents and boasts its own collective of artists. Some, like collective member Marjorie Dunning, came to art relatively late in life, while others, such as Heather Parfit, are art school graduates from years past.
“I went to York Art School at the end of the second world war,” said Heather. “The first thing I had to draw was an old plague yard, but my real interest is oils and watercolours. I spent three years at York and then met my husband and began to travel the world as he was in the army. Art had to play second fiddle for a bit, but it’s something that never left me.”
Creativity also hit Marjorie at a young age, although she only began painting herself fairly recently. ‘I loved art at school but it wasn’t until five years ago that I began to get lessons.
I’m passionate about watercolour, but recently have moved to experimenting with acrylics.”
“Art Weeks shows that age is no barrier to being creative,” continued Lizzie. “Last year Letcombe was only represented by four artists, but this year we’ve managed to show four times that number. Some of our artists are in their eighth decade and are still motivated to create great works, and anyone who sees the show would realise that.”
Visitors are welcome to view the Letcombe Regis artists work by visiting Richmond Letcombe Regis Retirement Village, South Street, Letcombe Regis, Wantage OX12 9RG.
May 14th to 21st between 10 am and 5pm.
Details about Oxfordshire Art Weeks can be found at www.artweeks.org