Buckinghamshire Open Weekend – a success all round!

22 August 2022

The second ‘Open Weekend’ in Buckinghamshire, took place over four days from 28 -31 July and showcased the breadth of creative and cultural activities across the county. The theme, ‘trees and green’, was inspired by the Platinum Jubilee 2022 ‘Queen’s Green Canopy’ project. It led to creative projects, workshops and performances which encouraged creative engagement with nature, trees, green spaces, landscape, and their heritage, combining cultural activities with being outside and the potential to benefit participants health and wellbeing.

The Buckinghamshire Culture team managed to sample some of the events and shares some of their impressions below.
Kicking off the activities on Thursday morning at Missenden Walled Garden, artist Harsha Basu’s ‘Tree of Life – Community Art Project’ involved making paints from natural materials and plants and creating a community art work that will adorn the club room at the garden.

The garden at Milton’s Cottage was the beautiful backdrop for artist Frog Morris’ ‘Tree of Knowledge’ workshop, engage visitors in making their own book inspired by the poet Milton’s work and ideas.

‘Tree Pottery’ at the Chiltern Open Air Museum meant working with clay and resulted in some intricately ornate 3-D works, using leaves as mould or working free hand.

Wycombe Arts Centre became host to two open weekend events on Friday:
The dance group Dew Dances created a beautiful performance specifically for Open Weekend, inspired by trees and childhood memories. Whilst at the ‘Journey Stick Sculpture Workshop’ young participants got creative stripping bark from branches to create a blank canvas to paint on, creating small but perfectly formed individual creative stick sculptures.

The artist led workshop ‘Let’s Goa Green’ at Wycombe Youth Space organised by FEEDBACK on Saturday morning engaged all ages in exploring the culture of Goa; creating natural colours, painting inspired by the culture of the region and in the end cooking and eating together. A complete and inspiring experience in many ways.

Marlow Museum put on a programme under the appropriate title ‘In the Company of the Green Man’. The Audience of regular museum visitors as well as Saturday afternoon shoppers was enjoying inspired by the Marlow Ukulele Orchestra or blown away by the witty words of the custom made ‘Tree Rap’. Plant sales for charity and tree themed biscuits completed the fun filled afternoon that made everyone aware of the offers of the museum and the wider creative community in Marlow.

Sunday afternoon saw the last performance of ‘Dalia’ at Garsington Opera. The team had made prices accessible throughout all 3 performances particularly for Open Weekend visitors. The community opera centring around a Syrian refugee girl finding her calling in cricket, involved school children and a wide range of members of the community in roles of the chorus – all beautifully scripted and sung in the amazing environment of the Wormsley Estate.

This is of course only a small snapshot of some of the activities the team were able to see for themselves and there was a much larger variety of brilliant events and activities happening.
Bill Morris and Julius Weinberg, Buckinghamshire Culture Co-chairs were both very happy with how the weekend went: “We would like to thank all those who have made this year’s Open Weekend such a success: the organisers, project partners and participants. “We hope you can all build on the experiences you have had and the connections you made, growing Buckinghamshire’s reputation as an exciting place for artists to work as well as for audiences to explore
activities. The concept and how Bucks organisations and individuals value being part of something bigger than themselves has come together and we are hoping to do it all again next year.”

Clive Harriss, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, added: “We are extremely proud to be able to present such a wide range in terms of geographical coverage – from Buckingham in the North to the Ivers in the South – as well as in terms of organisers involved. We had both larger established cultural institutions as well as young artists starting out on their first community led arts projects. The Open Weekend offered something creative for families and everyone in the community. We are grateful for all who got involved in the event, as well as for the residents that offered us support during the weekend.”

Organised by Buckinghamshire Culture with the support of Buckinghamshire Council and Visit Buckinghamshire, it was a celebration of all things creative and cultural that Buckinghamshire has to offer. This project is supported through funding from Buckinghamshire Council and the Rothschild Foundation.