A weekend of arts and heritage for the whole family

Letchworth Garden City will be buzzing this weekend as Letchworth Festival gets underway.   Alongside this, The Foundation’s new museum will open its doors to the public for the first time.

Museum at One Garden City

The Museum will take pride of place at Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation’s new office, One Garden City.

Opening on 15 June, the space will educate and entertain locals and visitors alike, encouraging curiosity and civic pride in this unique town. The space will aim to demonstrate both the potential of, and appetite for, any proposed future town centre social history museum/cultural centre.

It will also be a town centre showcase for the Garden City Collection, the town’s archive of over 250,000 photographs, plans and objects, as well as a launchpad towards the town’s other cultural assets and activities. This weekend, you can learn about Letchworth’s early pioneers and take a nostalgic look at shopping in Letchworth.

New exhibition at Broadway Gallery

Lois Walpole’s Weaving Ghosts focuses on ‘ghost gear’ (ropes, nets and plastic debris found in the sea), basketry skills and sustainability. Her work takes inspiration from the Shetland Islands where her resourceful great-grandfather made his own ropes and baskets from the natural materials washed up close to his house.  Today, the materials washed up on shore are often man-made, such as polypropylene ropes and assorted plastics, which Lois Walpole has used in this colourful exhibition featuring individual items and installations.

Broadway Gallery is open from 10 am – 5 pm. 

Open Studios Weekend at the Fenners Building

Just a stone’s throw from Broadway Gallery is the Fenners Building, which is home to some of Hertfordshire’s most talented emerging artists, where they are nurtured and supported during the early part of their careers.  This weekend (15 and 16 June), they will be opening their doors and inviting you to meet local artists in their working environment. Nine of the artists will be on hand to tell you about their work over a cup of tea, and for younger members of the family, there will be an art hunt worksheet. 

Julie Leaming and award-winning Ruta Bartkeviciute will be showcasing their ceramics, while upstairs Liz Harrington will talk about her ‘camera-less’ photography which is currently being shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Emmeline Webb, Susie Coussens and Jamie Freestone will display their paintings, Sue Pilborough and Katherine Roberts will show their textile based sculptural work and you can find out how award-winning artist Allistair Covell uses his paintings to create carpets. (If you saw his stunning exhibition at Broadway Gallery earlier this year, this is a chance to see him at work in his studio).

Here’s a little bit more about each of the artists:

Liz Harrington is a photographic artist working primarily with analogue, alternative photographic processes and camera-less techniques. Her practice focuses on transience and traces of the past, finding beauty in the often unseen or overlooked. The photograph as an object is also an important feature of her work, along with the production of handmade artist books.  

Allistair Covell is an award-winning Artist and Designer with a background in fine art, fashion and printed textiles.  His creative practice is an exploration of colour and pattern on a surface which has been recently the focus of a one-person exhibition at the Broadway Gallery, entitled From Canvas to Carpet. The surface patterns that feature in Allistair’s #CanvasToCarpet wool rug and carpet designs, which he refers to as ‘woven prints’, are based on his paintings and drawings.

Ruta Bartkeviciute is a Lithuanian Ceramicist was one of the 12 winners of open Call at Liberty’s in 2018.  Her ceramic decor focuses on distinctively restored ancient Baltic symbols, particularly in the tree of life. They are given a modern playful shape with bright colours and symbolic elements. 

Julie Leaming’s works include large-scale charcoal and pencil drawings in addition to the paper clay sculptures and vessels which she strips and abstracts to reveal part of the landscape in its simplest form, the point of inspiration.  

Jaime Freestone is inspired to transform old materials into something new. Jaime’s practice encompasses taxidermy and painting, he uses second-hand garments as canvas transforming them into wearable art pieces.

Katherine Roberts makes tactile sculptures that entice people to interact with them. Her work explores Christian ideas and experiences of transformation. Biblical texts and stories of transformation in fairy tales, science fiction and fantasy novels sometimes come together in surreal sculptural combinations. She has recently exhibited in London as part of 'Paper Cuts' at Saatchi Gallery and as part of NOHAT collective in The Panacea Museum. In 2017 she was artist in residence at Courtyard Arts. 

Sue Pilborough graduated from Minerva Art Academy, Groningen, The Netherlands July 2019 with a B.A. in Fine Arts.  She is excited to have recently started her Fellowship with the Digswell Arts Trust this February.   Her work is generally sculptural form and installation work, using various familiar materials in unusual context.

Emmeline Webb works across a variety of mediums including painting and drawing, printmaking, ceramics and digital artwork creating a range of products including greetings cards, tableware, silk scarves and home-based textiles. Emmeline’s Art Nest in Hitchin holds some of her work and is a great place for local artists to exhibit and sell their work.

Susie Coussens is currently exploring how our own personal space reacts when we change our position within that space. At the same time, she is also looking at how the art of the portrait can be revisited by using either a colour or monochrome palette.

The Digswell Arts Open Studios weekend will run from 10am - 4pm. The Fenners Building is located on Openshaw Way, Letchworth, SG4 3EN. Visit the Digswell Arts Trust website to find out more about the open studios.