Henley Festival 2023 unveils pioneering visual arts showcase

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Henley Festival Presented by Westcoast – the UK’s only boutique black-tie festival – is delighted to unveil this year’s stunning visual arts programme featuring the internationally celebrated sculptor David Harber, Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 winner Morag Caister, and the last artist commissioned to sculpt Elizabeth II and the first to sculpt a bust of King Charles III, Keziah Burt.

Henley Festival’s reputation for pioneering festival art displays continues with a celebration of fine art, ceramics, sculptures, photography, prints, paintings and light installations – all forming part of five unmissable summer nights packed full of world-class music, comedy, dining, dancing, fireworks and magical moments. From Wednesday 5 July to Sunday 9 July, the green banks of the riverside in Henley-on-Thames will be adorned with a breath-taking array of outdoor art installations and pop-up Festival galleries showcasing pieces by some of the UK’s most renowned creators, as well as the next generation of talent taking part in the Festival’s charitable initiative RISE.

Henley Festival’s Ruby Gallery is set to host extraordinary displays from Whitstable’s Tommy Gurr, whose trademark stencil murals can be found from Camden to Cambodia, alongside artist, surfer and traveller Nina Brooke, who will be bringing her jewel-like paintings that capture unique aerial perspectives of the world’s most picturesque seas, beaches and shorelines. The Festival welcomes Haut de Gamme, an international platform for the original artwork, prints, and installations by Alexander Hall – who aged just 22 was commissioned by Peter Jones CBE to create all of the artwork for his international offices, and has since gone on to become one of the world’s most recognised multimedia artists – as well as emerging British figurative sculptor Keziah Burt, who will be live sculpting portraits every evening, creating a standout experience for festival goers to watch an artist create something beautiful before their eyes.

The Ruby Gallery will also feature curated collections from: Air Contemporary, the renowned online gallery founded by Maria Morrow; a portfolio of realism, abstract, pop, and urban art, photography, sculpture, and installations from Turner Art Perspective; leading West End gallery Panter & Hall returns to the riverside to exhibit a selection of their leading contemporary artists including Mark Demsteader, Simon Laurie, Esther Erlich and Edward Seago; Henley-based print publisher, Hypergallery, will celebrate sleeve design and album cover art with their much-loved limited edition prints.

Meanwhile, The Festival Gallery will feature Marlow’s NOVA, showcasing some of their favourite internationally acclaimed artists and rising stars in the contemporary art scene as well as unveiling exclusive Ministry of Sound artworks by the distinguished painter Linda Charles; and a roster of modern masters and new emerging talent courtesy of The Drang Gallery.

Henley Festival was set up in 1982 as a charity whose mission is to stage an unforgettable music and arts festival for the local community and this mission remains the same. As part of Henley Festival’s new charitable programme nurturing the next generation of talent – RISE – this year’s festival will give a platform for young musicians and visual artists taking their first steps on stage, as well as offering opportunities for young people aspiring to work behind the scenes. The final exhibitor completing the Ruby Gallery line-up is a Henley Festival RISE artist, Morag Caister – an award-winning London based figurative-portrait artist and winner of the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2022.

The Audi High RISE Gallery is home to three further RISE artists: Keren Golea, a UK-based Filipino artist specialising in realistic portrait paintings created with charcoal, pastels, watercolours, and oils; Sara Hoque, whose multi-cultural upbringing inspires her acrylic and collaged images that capture the spirit of nature through ephemeral landscapes; and Sam Smyth, an abstract painter working in the traditions of geometric abstraction and hard edge painting to create murals, light installations and kinetic sculptures. Smyth has designed a bespoke wrap for the all-electric Audi Q8 e-tron, which will be on display at the Festival.

Henley Festival goers will be able to enjoy the riverside Sculpture Garden, admiring astonishing pieces from leading sculptors including the much-acclaimed David Harber, who makes an eagerly anticipated return to Henley after first exhibiting at the Festival more than twenty years ago. Harber’s award-winning contemporary and classical art can be found gracing some of the most prestigious addresses across the world, reacting and engaging with unique spaces through the interaction of light and reflection. The Sculpture Garden will also welcome Dawn Conn, whose fine art bronze sculptures merging memory, wonder and joy are displayed internationally, Marlow’s Fi Hunter and her larger-than-life bronze heads that explore the fragility and strength of the human condition, and Juliette Derwent who will be bringing a pop of colour with her vibrant fused glass plaques known as Fractaalas.

Further pieces will be on display courtesy of William Hoodless, who showcases the athletic capabilities of the human body and Lynn Warren, who is inspired by natural forms to create metal, stone and foundry bronze pieces celebrating mood and movement, alongside large-scale stainless steel pieces by Helen Solly, wire sculptures of the human form by Rachel Ducker, steel figurative work from Henrietta Bud and stylised abstract and figurative sculptures from Beatrice Hoffman. Award-winning artist and Bloomberg New Contemporary Ian Tricker will be presenting his distinctive work for diners to marvel on the Champagne Terrace, and Steve Bicknell will be bringing beautiful pieces from his collection including The Winged Man and Seated Nude in Blue.

Alongside the Ruby Gallery, Audi High RISE Gallery, The Festival Gallery and Sculpture Garden, the green banks of the Thames will be illuminated with three breath-taking light installations. This Is Loop will present their playful and futuristic Toroid sculpture, exploring light, space and time through 12 large-scale arcs of colour, and renowned light artists, Studio Vertigo, will stage their gigantic illuminated, tumbling slinky toy ‘End Over End’ and the glowing neon blue and pink hues of three oversized balls of wool, ‘Spin Me a Yarn’.

Henley Festival will also be partnering with The Lush Garden Group to enhance the natural beauty of the riverside setting with their bespoke botanical installations.