A 2016 scarecrow: Why on earth isn't that bird scared? Perhaps it's not a crow...Scarecrows will once again be appearing all over Aldbourne this year as the village prepares for its Scarecrow Trail - taking place over the weekend of May 20-21. This will be a third annual outing for scarecrows - this time matching a new theme.
Building on the trail's successful track record, residents, community groups and businesses have come forward to create a fantastic array of scarecrows. This year's chosen theme is Fairy Tales & Musicals.
Chris Gange holding the Sican Gold Mask - with other items including the Luristan Bronze Short SwordAn exhibition of many works of art and ancient artefacts from Peter O'Toole's unique private collection is coming to Marlborough's Katharine House Gallery - the sixteenth century building at the bottom of The Parade.
Chris Gange, owner of the gallery, told Marlborough.News: "I have been dealing for over 25 years in the unusual mixture of Twentieth Century British paintings, sculpture and ceramics alongside antiquities, tribal art and curios from around the world."
"The opportunity to exhibit these splendid and eclectic pieces from Peter O’Toole’s collection came as a delightful surprise, fitting my Gallery like a glove.”
Award winning actor, Peter O’Toole, who died in 2013, is perhaps best known for his role as Lawrence of Arabia in the David Lean film of 1962.
It was during the shooting of this film (one of the longest shooting schedules in cinema history) in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco that O’Toole’s passion for collecting antiquities began.
The exhibition, which opens on May 13, includes over 70 items ranging from a Luristan bronze short sword (dated eighth to tenth century BC) to a Sir Jacob Epstein bronze portrait bust entitled Third Portrait of Deidre (1942) which used to sit in the drawing room of the O’Toole family home.
Photo by Ken Danvers (1911-1980): Peter O’Toole with Alec Guinness on the set of ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ (1961/62) Original vintage photograph. Production stamps on the back signed by Danvers - David Lean’s regular stills photographerEarthenware dog effigy vessel, Colima, Mexico. 1st C BC - 3rd C ADSeveral items of the collection reflect O’Toole’s fascination with Pre-Columbian art and culture which began when he was filming Murphy’s Law in 1971. Chris Gange has chosen his favourite piece in the exhibition: “I am most impressed by the Colima Dog effigy (circa 100 B.C-300 A.D). Dogs were indigenous to the ancient Americas. They served as companions, hunting partners, underworld guides and even sources of food.”
O’Toole was indefatigable in adding to his collection. “He used to like to go off with local people to archaeological sites, a bit like Indiana Jones! He donated several minor archaeological artefacts to the British Museum.”
The exhibition also includes paintings by Patrick Oliver, a lifelong friend of O’Toole, who was tutor to Damien Hirst and Marcus Harvey, together with numerous curios and souvenirs.
Peter O’Toole’s daughter, Kate, who will be attending the opening of the exhibition on May 13 is delighted Katharine House Gallery is exhibiting part of her father’s collection of art and antiquities: "One of his great joys in life was to study and collect works of art from the many cultures and countries that he visited during his long film career. This exhibition will give people a unique opportunity to see and appreciate this little known aspect of my father’s personality.”
These items from the collection are for sale with prices ranging from £50 to £9500. Some have been sold prior to the exhibition's opening. The catalogue can be seen on the Katharine House website.
The exhibition runs from May 13 to June 24, Monday to Saturday 10.00 - 5.30. Entry is free.
Teotihuacan ‘Portrait Heads’ - £60-£95 each
Izzy Bizu with fans during a visit to Sound Knowledge last yearSoul and pop sensation Izzy Bizu will be headed to Marlborough tomorrow (Saturday, April 22) to help customers at Sound Knowledge celebrate the 10th annual Record Store Day.
Izzy is BBC Music Introducing Award-winner and official champion of Record Store Day 2017.
She will be performing an intimate acoustic set at neighbouring Cafe Thirty8 from around 4pm, and signing copies of her special edition Record Store Day 7-inch single.
“I’m really excited to be returning to Sound Knowledge in Marlborough for a very special Record Store Day signing and acoustic performance,” said Izzy.
In true Sound Knowledge tradition, it will be an early start for die-hard record collectors, who are expected to start queueing at 6am ahead of an 8am opening.
Fans will be let into the store 10 at a time to browse the limited edition releases – and bulk buying of limited edition releases will be forbidden, to discourage carpet baggers.
And the vinyl-related fun will continue into Sunday, with the return of Record Store Day Live on Sunday (April 23) with an afternoon of live music featuring Sound Knowledge favourite Nick Harper, west country trio Port Erin, Britpoppers HOO HAs, blues rockers Meeking, and folk singer Reggie Roberts between noon and 6pm at
Sound Knowledge proprietor Roger Mortimer said: “2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the global event – and the 10th year SK has taken part – and it's set to be bigger than ever with almost 600 limited edition releases hitting the shelves.”
Pietro & Barbara behind The Barge's barThe famous Barge Inn in Honeystreet has new owners. Pietro Cuomo and his partner Barbara have moved from Rome to the canal-side pub - with two children and quite a lot of pets and lots of plans. They want to turn their passion for food and wine and service into a new career.
Pietro was born in Naples and has worked for twenty years as an international lawyer in Rome focusing on corporate and commercial law. He was a founding partner of Cugia Cuomo & Associates and has not cut his connections with the firm. He says he might still be doing some travelling for the firm.
He and Barbara have been together in Rome for ten years - she was working as a yoga teacher and photographer.
The morning after Britain's referendum on EU membership, they decided to move to Wiltshire: "This was the moment to do it. We took advantage of the falling value of the pound sterling and the welcoming attitude to new business and investment from abroad."
Separately they had both had experience of living and working in London and had initially drawn up a business plan for a wine bar in London. They quickly adjusted their plan for Wiltshire.
They are very aware of The Barge's place in the community: "The place is an institution - it's very important to the area." And they acknowledge its connections to the world of crop circles - it has been known widely as 'The Croppies' Pub'.
They had to learn pretty fast about crop circles - a quick course via Wikipedia. And in the summer the pub will be hosting a crop circle exhibition by the Dutch crop circle enthusiast Monique Klinkenbergh.
[Click on photos to enlarge them]
The Barge will be their home: Barbara and Pietro will live in the old barn that the previous owner had started - with traditional craftsmanship - to turn into an arts centre. Barbara's son is working as sommelier at the Waterside Inn in Bray and her daughter will be going to school locally. The grounds will be occupied by their two horses, seven dogs and two cats.
Things change and people will soon realise that The Barge has been saved and may change a bit too. But the changes Barbara and Pietro have in mind will be evolutionary. And they intend to explain their direction of change - as Pietro says: "I want to give this back to the locals - to everyone - one hundred per cent. We are an independent food and wine establishment - not part of a chain - and I guarantee that we will liaise with local people."
They will be having a variety of live music - on Saturdays and later in the middle of the week too. Music for youngsters, folk - one day they might even, says Pietro, invite a string quartet along: "Not everyone will like all the music - of course!"
They plan too to hang a variety of artworks in the bars - rotating styles - and including works from Justin Cook's Oil Gallery in Hungerford.
Their immediate aim is to 'elevate' the service and the food and the wine. They are serving Stonehenge real ales. And they have an impressive new wine list - with Italian 'bubbles' and a mix of well-priced wines - by no means all from Italy!
At present the menu is a mix of traditional English pub food with some Italian additions. It is no surprise that they favour light and tasty Neapolitan food rather than some of Italy's heavier, more bean-based cuisines. Laurence Handyside, who has been chef at The Barge for three years, is a key member of their staff.
The first major changes will come with some refurbishment in preparation for an October reopening and a winter menu. Plans for the future include tasting events both for food and wines. Their supplier of wines and spirits - and advice - is the recently combined London firm of Enotria and Coe.
Meanwhile, we can again enjoy this unique spot by the canal - now with an Italian twist. As their 'in progress' website says: "Stay tuned for further details and all our news."
An egg hunt without chickens is one of the attractions organised by the National Trust in Avebury - poster at right. These hunts have been running since April 8 with help-yourself-timings between 11.00am and 4.00pm. As well as those Cadbury eggs, you can hunt for spring hares or get creative with craft activities. Call 01672 538036 for details.
The Great Lydiard Park Easter Egg Trail - Sunday, 16 April 2017 - 10.00am to 4.00pm (last admission 3.00pm) £4 per child. (Parking charges apply.)
Faux Arts in The Parade, Marlborough have many arts and crafts opportunities for youngsters. Details on their website or 01672 512031.
Wiltshire Museum in Devizes is open Friday, April 14, Sunday, April 16 and Monday, April 17 from 12.00am to 4.00pm - and on Saturday, April 15 from 10.00am to 5.00pm.
On Wednesday, April 19 the Wiltshire Museum runs holiday activity sessions: Colourful Textiles - including felt making, bookmarks, pictures and plaited bracelets. Suitable for ages 11 and under - under 8s must be accompanied. £5 per child. Booking essential. Details and booking here.
Characters from the past - clues - prizes: English Heritage hosts an Easter Adventure Quest at Old Sarum - last day Monday, April 17 - 11.00am to 5.00pm. Free to members - non-members £4.80/£2.90.) Booking not necessary.
Studley Grange (near M4's junction sixteen) has Butterfly Wolrd, Farm Park and Craft Village. Tenrecs from Madagascar are their latest attraction. A Tenrec? It looks like a hedgehog but has gone down different evolutionary paths. Fascinating. And for children who like bending things - Studley Grange's resident blacksmith will be offering drop in sessions for children to try their skills. Details here.
For those who reckon they can tell one end of a horse from another, Friday, April 14 sees the Many Clouds Lambourn Open Day - renamed this year in honour of Many Clouds the Grand National winner who died at Cheltenham in January seconds after winning his second Cotswold Chase. He was trained by Oliver Sherwood in Lamborun.
The day-long event includes visits to many of Lambourn's famous training yards and in the afternoon a welter of events for all the family in the main arena. More details here.
For horse racing fans there is the famous Cazenove Capital Point-to-Point & Country Day at Lockinge (near Wantage): activities from 11.15am and first race at 2.00pm.
General admission is £25 per car (single occupancy £10) and pedestrians are £5 per person. Gates are open from 10am. Excellent viewing available from the hillside.
Back in the real and old world, Crofton's world famous beam engines will be in steam from Saturday, April 15 to Monday, April 17. A spectacle, a history lesson and a science lesson - or you can just sit and watch the canal traffic go by. And there is a cafe. Prices and opening times here.
And this is a Studley Grange Tenrec
On a chilly Sunday evening, Yume Fujise (violin) and Maria Tarasewicz (piano) joined the ranks of the brilliant young musicians who have played in Saint Peter’s church (April 30).
Yume Fujise is a Japanese violinist who began to play the violin at the age of three. Aged 10 she was invited to study at the Juilliard School of Music in New York before coming to Britain as a pupil at the Yehudi Menuhin School. She is currently studying at the Royal College of Music, has made her debut at the Wigmore Hall and is currently living in London.
Twenty one little doors appeared around the bases of treesChildren were given the keys to a magical kingdom on Sunday, as Pewsey first Fairy Trail came to the Scotchel nature reserve.
Twenty one little doors to fairy homes – made and decorated by local children – appeared around the bases of trees, while wirework sprites and insects danced from the branches.
And the fairy theme continued in the Bouverie Hall, where a stallholders at a Fairy Fayre sold fairy-related gifts.
Donations for the Brighter Futures Radiotherapy Appeal were collected in a wishing well at the end of the trial.
Brighter Futures launched the Radiotherapy Appeal at Great Western Hospital in 2015, in a bid to raise the £2.9 million needed to make radiotherapy treatment available in Swindon, meaning local cancer patients no longer have to make the daily 70-mile round trip to Oxford.
Wirework fairies danced from the branches
Ollie Freeman with Angry OakThe work of around 80 artists who will be taking part in this year’s Marlborough Open Studios trail has gone on display at Marlborough College’s Mount House Gallery.
Visitors to the free exhibition will be able to enjoy works by a range of locally-, nationally- and internationally-renowned artists, in media ranging from oils and watercolours to pottery, ceramics, photography, and calligraphy.
Open Studios chairman Lisi Ashbridge said: “Fifteen artists are either new to the scheme, or are returning after a break, so even for art-lovers who visit every year there’s something new to see.”
Among the fresh talent is Bryony Cox, who was awarded this year’s Marlborough Open Studios bursary. Bryony, who graduated from Falmouth University in drawing in 2014, will be sharing Studio 25 with sculptor Lisi and landscape artist Meriel Balston at Meriel’s studio in Alton Barnes.
Mary Wilkinson with her Devon seascapesRecently, she travelled throughout Asia to document and draw people and their environment. Her work at the exhibition in inspired by the continent.
Also new to the trail is land- and seascape artist Mary Wilkinson. A fine art graduate who has been painting professionally since 1989, her oil paintings are inspired by the landscapes of Devon.
She will be exhibiting with painter Rebecca Spicer and maker of hand-made books Julie Smith at Rebecca’s studio in Mildenhall.
Commanding an eye-catching spot above a fireplace at the preview exhibition is a painting by Ollie Freeman. Angry Oak - a painting inspired by a tree he passes on a daily basis near his Etchilhampton studio – is a smaller example of his work: his pieces usually measure six feet across.
Preview exhibition curator Michael Angove and Open Studios chairman Lisi AshbridgeThe former architect is inspired by solid shapes. As an associate artist, his studios are not generally open as part of the trail, but by appointment – details can be found in the art trail brochure.
The preview exhibition will be open to the public between 10am and 5pm from tomorrow (Friday, April 21) to Friday, April 28.
The Open Studios trail returns for four weekend runs on July 1 to 2, 8 to 9, 15 to 16, and 22 to 23.
For full details visit www.marlboroughopenstudios.co.uk
Fiona ReynoldsFiona Reynolds' message will chime with many people who live in and around Marlborough and enjoy its special countryside. She will be part of a new venture, quite separate from the main festival weekend, that Marlborough LitFest is arranging to celebrate June's start of summer with a day devoted to nature writing - Saturday, June 3.
This will be held at the White Horse Bookshop and has been made possible by the LitFest's lead sponsors Brewin Dolphin.
The programme includes four speakers and - at 1.30pm - the announcement of the winner of the Richard Jefferies Nature Writing Prize - now sponsored by White Horse Bookshop. This prize is named after Wiltshire's celebrated and ground-breaking Victorian writer and naturalist.
The four speakers are:
Fiona Reynolds has been Director General of both The National Trust and The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE). Her new book, The Fight for Beauty, demonstrates her tireless enthusiasm for the countryside and her passion for conservation.
John Lewis-Stempel is a farmer and historian who lives in Herefordshire on land his family has farmed since the 14th century. He is the author of Meadowland and The Running Hare : The Secret Life of Farmland. He is the winner of the 2015 Wainwright Prize for Nature and Travel Writing.
Rosy Hardy is a garden designer and founder of Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants. She's won many gold medals at RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace flower shows. She is well known as an inspirational speaker on gardening and design. After her talk Rosy will be signing copies of her new book, Rosy Hardy - 25 Years of Chelsea.
Simon Cooper's new book The Otter's Tale recounts his special relationship with a family of otters. Anyone who heard Simon talking about his previous book Life of a Chalkstream at last year's LitFest will know what a treat it is to hear him speak.
All the details of the times and ticketing can be found here - where there's also a link to the LitFest website.
And for diaries: the 2017 Marlborough LitFest will run over the weekend September 28-to-October 1.
Frank Gardner (Photo copyright Colin Thomas)Marlborough LitFest has announced more names for its 2017 line-up in its eighth year (28 September – 1 October, 2017), including BBC Security correspondent, Frank Gardner, Graeme McCrae Burnet, local crime writer Jon Stock, as well as a talk hosted by the William Golding Estate.
These authors will join this year’s Golding Speaker, Will Self, who will open the Festival on 29 September.
BBC Security correspondent Frank Gardner OBE will be talking about his latest thriller, Ultimatum (published in September 2017), the second book in a trilogy.
]Ten years after himself surviving an Islamist ambush in Saudi Arabia during which his cameraman was killed, Frank Gardner, although partly paralysed, continues to travel the world reporting for the BBC.
He has written for The Economist, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph as well as writing a memoir and travel anthology.
Graeme McCrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project was shortlisted for the Man Booker 2016. Renowned as a real 'word of mouth' book, The Guardian reviewed it as ‘a psychological thriller masquerading as a slice of true crime; a collection of “found” documents that play lovingly with the traditions of Scottish literature; an artful portrait of a remote crofting community in the 19th century that showcases contemporary theories about class and criminology’.
McCrae Burnet, a former teacher, is considered one of the brightest stars on Scotland’s current literary scene.
Local crime author Jon Stock is the author of five spy novels (Warner Brothers bought the film rights to his Daniel Marchant trilogy) and a new standalone psychological thriller, Find Me, (published in February 2017 under the pen name of JS Monroe).
There are more details about Jon Stock on Marlborough.News - and there is also a review of Find Me by Adrian Clarke.
Stock previously was a freelance journalist and until 2015 he headed up the Weekend and Living sections of the Saturday and Sunday Telegraph. He will fill the popular crime spot at the 2017 LitFest.
To coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of William Golding’s novel, The Pyramid (which is described as a ‘Marlborough-disguised’ novel) a talk will be given by the William Golding Estate on ‘William Golding’s Legacy and his debt to Marlborough’.
The Marlborough LitFest committee say they are especially pleased to celebrate the town’s long connection with the Nobel Laureate and Booker Prize winning author.
Jan Williamson, Festival Chair, said: “We are very excited about this year’s line-up. We’ve got some brand new authors and some very well-known ones.”
More names for the 2017 programme will be announced later. The organisers are including a wide variety of speakers throughout the festival weekend.
The list will feature new and young fiction writers as well as established names, children’s authors, workshops and poetry events. The Festival’s intention is to bring the best of good writing to the town of Marlborough.
The Marlborough LitFest is supported by a number of sponsors - notably their founder sponsor ALCS (the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.) The lead sponsor is Brewin Dolphin.
And LitFest's events sponsors are: Hiscox Insurance, the William Golding Estate, Marlborough College and St Francis School.