The UK is full of incredible museums and art spaces, all within pretty easy reach of Oxfordshire. So after you’ve seen everything Oxfordshire has to offer, here are five art exhibitions outside Oxfordshire that make for a great cultural day trip.
Mary Newcomb (1922-2008) wasn’t just an artist. She was a writer, natural scientist and farmer too. This exhibition – set in the beautiful, historic Compton Verney – takes viewers through Newcomb’s folk art and rural life-filled aesthetic. Featuring over fifty works, displayed alongside extracts from her writing and work by the artists that inspired her, Mary Newcomb: Nature’s Canvas is the most extensive survey of her work ever. Deeply engrossed in the rituals of the unfolding seasons and the countryside around her, Newcomb’s beautiful and subtle art and writing foregrounds the pleasures of slow looking and speaks to the deep connections we all make with nature.
Wakehurst, Kew Garden’s sister site in West Sussex, has been brought alive by a symphony of sounds this summer, thanks to a series of sound installations plonked around the grounds. Six striking large-scale installations situated across the landscape will delicately and playfully inspire a greater connection to nature. There are listening cones, gongs, megaphones and robotic woodpeckers by a variety of artists. Find a new dimension to the term ‘surround sound’ as the natural noises of the vast, wild gardens are amplified and explored by award-winning sound artists like Marco Barotti and composer Joe Acheson.
If you missed British artist Akomfrah’s recent-ish exhibitions at the Barbican and 180 The Strand, this is your chance to right that wrong. Vertigo Sea is a poetic and affecting meditation on man’s relationship with the sea and its role in the history of slavery, migration, trade, and conflict. In this monumental video installation, the beauty and vitality of the marine environment and the abundance of aquatic life are brought into contrast with the destruction of animal and human life on the seas and surrounding coastlines. This beautifully produced immersive video work will stay with you forever.
Ben Nicholson (1894 – 1982), one of the greats of British modern art, has the spotlight shined on his love of still lifes. From patterned mocha-ware jugs and cut glass goblets to spanners, hammers and chisels, these ordinary personal possessions were a source of almost endless inspiration to the artist. This show at Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery takes you on a journey from coffee cups to abstraction, so you can watch how Nicholson turned the objects around him into, like, art? Crazy. There are paintings, works on paper and reliefs, all displayed alongside objects that inspired him.
After an enforced pandemic delay, the fifth edition of Creative Folkestone Triennial is back at the Kent seaside with a town-wide exhibition run from 22 July to 02 November. The rescheduled 2020 Triennial, entitled The Plot, invites visitors to consider urban myths and their relation to verifiable realities: the gap between the story and the actuality. It presents around 27 newly commissioned site-specific artworks by internationally acclaimed artists – like Turner Prize-winning architects Assemble, Rana Begum, Gilbert and George and the apparently ubiquitous Bob and Roberta Smith.