Robin Wood creates wooden bowls using a pole-lathe
Highly-textured woollen jackets
Close-up of knitted jackets
Martin Andrew's weird and wonderful glassware
Pure linen jacket
Jolly Potty Things
Carrie Ann Tufnell glassware
Glass panel with wooden frame
Stephen and Caroline Atkins' lustrewareware
Lizzie Houghton's splendid hats
Calligrapher at work
Japanese calligraphy class
Tibetan Calligraphy: Gonkar Gyatso
Islamic calligraphy: Mohammed Abu Mustafa
Tapestry 1 by Kirsten Glasbrook
Tapestry 2 by Kirsten
Wendy Ann Hughes silk hangings
Art in Action, one of Europe’s leading festivals of arts and crafts, took place last week in the grounds of Waterperry House near Wheatley. It was the 27th time since 1977 that this extraordinary celebration of the visual, musical and performance arts had been held in Oxford, and its return was all the more welcome after a gap of one year.
Housed in well over 30 marquees dotted around the grounds, we could find everything from calligraphy to textiles, ceramics to jewellery, printmaking to sculpture. New this year was a tent devoted to the ‘Abrahamic Arts’, showing contemporary work from the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions. There was also music from the Iranian Sufi tradition and from India, neither of these available on Saturday, the day I went, unfortunately. I took part in a Choral Workshop led by Bruce Ramell, singing a chorus from Handel’s ‘An Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day’ with about fifty other people who had never met before – the result was most impressive. Pepa Chacon gave an excellent performance of flamenco dancing, despite a wobbly temporary stage which must have been a nightmare, ably accompanied by singer and guitarist Antonio Madigan.
One of the best things about Art in Action is the opportunity to talk to the makers themselves and watch them demonstrating their skills. Glass-blowing demonstrations always attract a crush of people, but raku, printmaking, weaving, sculpture and painting were not far behind in popularity. Additionally, one can pay extra to take part in practical classes, such as calligraphy, pottery-throwing or glass engraving, and there are even special classes for 3-7 year olds.
As usual, the event was extremely well organised with what seemed like hundreds of volunteers from the School of Economic Science, the organising body (see their website at www.philosophycourse.com) whose guiding philosophy is in part inspired by the Indian spiritual leader Shri Shantananda Saraswati. On a perfect day of warm sunshine with a gentle refreshing breeze, really the only fault I could find was with the price of the refreshments – next year, I’ll definitely take my own picnic.