COLOURFUL paintings and eye-catching sculptures across South Oxfordshire launched this year's Artweeks festival.

Oxfordshire Artweeks started on May 6 and runs until Monday, May 29, with shows and exhibitions in artists’ studios, galleries and public spaces including churches.

About 1,000 artists are taking part at more than 470 venues across the county.

Festival director Esther Lafferty said this year’s event – the 35th – got off to a good start in South Oxfordshire where events ran until yesterday.

The mum-of-three from Faringdon, who spends 10 months of the year preparing for Artweeks, said: "We got off to a great start in South Oxfordshire and lots of venues have been busy with visitors.

"One great example of what Artweeks does was a brilliant group show by artists in Little Wittenham near Didcot.

"Liz Gascoigne, a painter has been organising the Clumps Orchard Group."

Mum-of-three Ms Gascoigne, has lived in Little Wittenham with her husband Clive Arup, an engineer, for 30 years.

She said: "Artweeks works very well if you have a group show because you get amazing variety and collaboration between the different artists.

"This year we had a lot of conceptual art , which was challenging so people were wandering around the orchard and wondering why they like it.

"The orchard and barn gives us plenty of space and we have the flexibility to show off lots of different artwork and sculptures.

"Artists network and make things together – it's been great fun."

Ms Lafferty said artists at Little Wittenham included Vikki Rose, a stained glass artist from Abingdon who is the Oxfordshire Moth Conservation Officer for Butterfly Conservation, a British charity devoted to saving butterflies, moths and their habitats throughout the UK.

Ms Rose said: "Ever since I got involved in the Oxford Moth project I’ve been fascinated by all the different colours and patterns of moths – there’s an incredible diversity and they’re just as beautiful as butterflies."

Ms Rose captured the beauty of moths at Little Wittenham's Venue 84, the Clumps Orchard barn.

She added: "I’m working on a series of different butterflies and moths in glass which I think is much better than a specimen cabinet packed with dead insects. The glass seems to make them come alive!"

Other artists whose work featured in the eclectic collection of contemporary 2D and 3D artwork included sculptors Julia Gascoigne Palmer, Richard Goldsmith and Beatrice Hoffman, while Victoria Squires showed off her textiles.

North and West Oxfordshire artists are now the focus until May 21 while Oxford artists display their work from May 20 to May 29.

One of those taking part in Oxford is hatmaker Lizzie Hurst, from Summertown.

She will be showing off her creations at St Barnabas Church in Jericho, including berets, trilbies and sun hats.

Ms Hurst has been making hats since 1991 and taking part in Artweeks since 2009.

Mrs Lafferty, a former medical publisher at Oxford University Press, is organising her sixth festival.

Artweeks is a not-for-profit organisation, relying on the generous support of many people, including this year’s sponsors, architects and planning consultants West Waddy ADP.

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