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On Form; The Stone Sculpture Biennal At Asthall Manor Returns
June 4, 2018
On Form is a sculpture biennial with a difference. Taking place this year, in its ninth iteration, the show is the only exhibition in the UK dedicated entirely to stone sculpture. Works by 40 living artists (31 British and 9 international – including representation from Italy, Greece, Canada, Greece, the Netherlands and the US) have been placed throughout the outbuildings and grounds of the beautiful Asthall Manor, near Burford in Oxfordshire’s Cotswolds.
Running this year from the 10 June to 8 July, On Form sets itself apart from the new-crowd of interdisciplinary, outdoor art spaces by having one core principal – that you can touch the works of art. On Form invites visitors to rub, smell, inhabit, witness and feel the heat of each work of art. The wonderfully simple yet effective rule means that visitors experience an incredibly intimate relationship with each artwork, and in turn, their surroundings.
The landscape at Asthall Manor ranges from manicured flowerbeds thick with flora, to grassy, wild meadows and patches of shaded forest, providing visitors with a range of environments within which to witness the chiselled, carved and polished works. Admiring the versatility of the various stone’s subjects, in landscapes curated over the centuries, its hard not to admire man’s subtle power over, but reverence of, nature.
This year’s biennial includes works by some of the world’s not renowned stone-workers, including Helaine Blumfield OBE, peter Randall-Page RA and Tom Waugh, the winner of the Rise Art Award. Three main themes dominate this year’s submissions; Nature, ecology and displacement – highlighting perhaps, the current generation’s pressing environmental concerns.
Some of Candid Magazine’s favourites include Anthony Turner fossil and bean like, anthropomorphic shapes that mould to your hands, Rob Good’s fluffy and seemingly impossible shapes, and Aly Brown’s Henry Moore-esque exquisite, supple forms. The show certainly pushes the barriers of people’s ideas of what stone carving can achieve.
Running alongside the biennial is The Potting Shed Cafe, which under the guidance of acclaimed local chef Fiona Cullinane will accompany the sculpture park with dishes inspired by Astahll Manor’s walled vegetable garden. Burford’s famous Mad Hatter Bookshop will also run a pop-up bookshop selling a specially curated range of art and literature books throughout the exhibition, as well as hosting numerous book signings, poetry readings and guest author talks. There will also be birdsong walks at dusk, stone carving workshops, a literary salon and garden tours taking place across June and July. Something for everyone at Asthall.
Words by Toby Mellors
On Form 18 at Asthall Manor, Burford, Oxfordshire, OX18 4HW. 10 June-8 July 20