Professional artists, keen amateurs, curious beginners and children get a chance to be creative in Chipping Norton this Saturday when the town holds its first arts festival, writes Andrew Wildman.

The Chipping Norton Arts Festival will be a celebration of creativity and visual arts linked together by the theme of ‘connect’. It is the brainchild of a group of renowned local artists and arts professionals who formed a network of creatives last year.

We’ve put together a wide-ranging programme of free admission exhibitions, talks, workshops and demonstrations, including painting, drawing, book art, ceramics, fabric art, printing and comic book creation.

There will also be the chance to draw and learn alongside top professionals at the Comics and Cartoon Creation Workshop and, for children of all ages, a wide range of free activities and workshops, talks and screenings are taking place from the makers behind some of the UK’s most ionic TV programmes: The Clangers (the storyboards for which were created, say organisers, in the town), Shane the Chef (also conceived in Chipping Norton), Horrid Henry, Dr Who (the storyboard artist will be in conversation with historian and local resident, Dominic Sandbrook,) as well as an event by Audio Motion – Europe’s leading Performance Capture company (Harry Potter, A Monster Calls, Maleficent and Star Wars).

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Birmingham-based performance company Stan’s Cafe, is recreating its internationally renowned art installation, ‘Of All The People In All The World’ as the headline exhibition for the event.

This internationally acclaimed and thought-provoking installation will be on display at Chipping Norton Town Hall and involves the use of tons of uncooked rice weighed into smaller piles to bring formal, abstract statistics about the world to startling and powerful life in a way that is both informative and visually stunning.

Witney Gazette:

Co-created by Stan’s Café founder, James Yarker, the rice show has become a global phenomenon which has toured more than 50 cities across the globe since it launched in 2003.

James told us: “We’re delighted to be bringing ‘Of All The People In All The World’ to Chipping Norton Arts Festival for its first ever visit to Oxfordshire, after 16 years of presentations around the world.

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“We look forward to exploring a rich array of statistics about the town and the county, as well as up-to-the-minute human statistics reflecting current affairs.”

Other events include a High Street take-over, with pop-up exhibitions appearing in shop windows, including work by the late Ian Seymour Wells, an artist who made the people of Chipping Norton his subject matter.

The gallery at The Theatre will host a group exhibition on the festival’s theme of Connect, while a ‘Making Art Begins at 4’ exhibition by the youngest makers will be on display at the town’s ACE Nursery School.

A craft market showcasing the work of a variety of artisan arts and crafts makers will take place on Middle Row and in various other locations around the town and a Playing-out space with music performances takes place throughout the day.

Witney Gazette:

The festival’s patron is BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz, who said: “Chipping Norton Arts Festival is a fantastic concept, a wonderful initiative for a wonderful town.”

Whether you’re interested in arthouse or cartoons, sci-fi or comedy, there’ll be something here to catch your attention.

* Andrew Wildman is a professional comic artist, best known for his work for Marvel – including Galaxy Rangers, Thundercats, The Real Ghostbusters, and Transformers

  • Chipping Norton Arts Festival takes place this Saturday in venues around the town.
  • For a full programme of admission free events, screenings and workshops visit
  • The festival starts at 10am and finishes at 4.30pm
  • To book your place at any of the free workshops, screenings and events go to