Oswestry has always been a creative town and this summer art is being celebrated in its many forms in a ‘Summer of Art’.
Oswestry’s Summer of Art programme takes its inspiration from the 2023 Heritage Open Days theme, ‘Creativity Unwrapped’.
This has inspired Oswestry’s Cultural Consortium (the group that organises February’s Love Oswestry festival), to ‘artify’ Oswestry for the entire summer with a finale built around the Heritage Open Days festival, which takes place from the 8th to the 17th of September.
The centrepiece of Oswestry’s Summer of Art is the ART-efact exhibition, which launches on the evening of Friday, 8th September at 6pm and continues through to Sunday the 17th of September.
ART-efact is funded by Arts Council England and Oswestry’s Cultural Consortium and is led by local artist Holly Maries. ART-efact has recruited four talented local artists to work with Oswestry’s cultural partners and places, telling the stories of the town through their work. Artists have used the fascinating collections housed at Oswestry Town Archives and Oswestry Town Museum to inspire their art.
The four selected ‘artists in residence’ are Emma Cummings, Jean Atkin, Joseph Schneider and Paul Bohanna and they will showcase their work in a 2-week exhibition, taking place at Shropshire Cycle Hub at Cross Market Hall during Heritage Open Days. The exhibition will include paintings, poetry, ceramics and design.
Heritage Open Days (HODS) is England’s largest festival of history and culture, where every September thousands of volunteers across England organise events to celebrate history and culture. It’s a chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – all of which are free to explore.
In addition to the ART-efact exhibition, there are several events that celebrate Oswestry arts and culture during September’s HODS festival. ‘The Lettermen’ film will be shown at Designs in Mind on the 9th of September at 12, 1 and 2pm, followed by a Q&A. This 8-minute film presents the love story of two soldiers during the Second World War, one of whom was based in Shropshire. Gilbert Bradley and Gordon Bowsher defied the law to write more than 600 letters to each other during the war, which were bought at auction by Oswestry Town Museum.
On the 12th of September, local historian Sandy Best will lead a gentle walk of the town and share stories of Oswestry’s poets and authors. Oswestry Museum is open for extended hours throughout the festival, St Oswald’s Church Tower will be open for tours and Cambrian Heritage Railway and Tanat Valley Railways have a whole range of activities, including a monorail, guided tours and access to the signal box – all completely free!
Culture Fest takes place in the streets of Oswestry on the 9th of September from 10.30am to 1.30pm and celebrates Oswestry’s vibrant and diverse communities. Expect drop-in arts workshops, music and dance performances for all the family to enjoy. The event is organised by Arts Connection – Cyswllt Celf.
A little further afield, there are events at Llanymynech Limeworks, Lllanfyllin Union Workhouse and at most surrounding National Trust properties.
Oswestry guided walking tours are held every Saturday at 11am from the Tourist Information Centre during September, so there is plenty of art and culture for residents and visitors to get involved with.