A feast of a festival

Marden House has been the main venue for Calne Music & Arts Festival events for many years, and its annual art exhibition provides a wonderful backdrop for the recitals, readings, talks and dramatic productions.  The Festival committee led by the President, Carole Browne have excelled themselves – the Festival rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the past months and months of restirictions, lockdowns, furlough and social distancing. With a well-ventilated space – doors and windows open, even in the chilly evening, visitors felt confident and safe in attending the Festival venue.

Calne Music & Arts Festival 1 -10 October 2021

Judith Weir
21st Master of the Queen’s Music, Patron of Calne Music & Arts Festival, officially launched this year’s Festival at the opening event: a private viewing of the Festival Open Art Exhibition for Friends of the Festival and guests. The Mayor Cllr Rich Jones attended, along with several former mayors, and sponsors including representatives from Chilvester Financial and Bevirs Solicitors.

It’s lovely to see Marden House full of the colourful art works – familiar names from previous years, plenty of new ones – perhaps a response to the new lockdown art trend, and a huge variety of styles and media – watercolours, oil, acrylic, digital art, textiles.

Goin’ Fishin‘ watercolour by Sheila Paget, Open Art Exhibition

Picture 1
Within five minutes of scanning the walls of Marden House, I had fallen in love with one of the paintings. I didn’t mean to choose a favourite before I had even looked at the whole exhibition set out on the ground and first floor. I’m sorry – call me shallow, if you want, but it was the cat portrait entitled Goin’ Fishin’ that shouted out – ‘Come and look at me, me in my fishing hat full of flies. I’m looking at you. Look into my eyes. What am I up to?‘ And that’s why the painting by Sheila Paget was so entrancing.

Old Hardware Store, ink and wash, by Mark Peskett, Open Art Exhibition

Picture 2
Another picture which caught my eye was ‘Old Hardware Store’ – formerly known as Trotman’s, and recently demolished to make way for retirement apartments. Local artist Mark Peskett, member of Lacock Art Group, has gained quite a following, thanks to his posts on Calne in Photographs Facebook pages. His ink and watercolour scenes of local buildings and views are most appealing – a hint of ‘another time’ in their portrayal of Calne. A selection of his prints and cards are on sale at the Calne Heritage Centre.

Picture 3

‘Planet Calne 3’, digital print by Chris Wilkes-Ciudad

I thought that Chris Wilkes-Ciudad’s picture ‘Planet Calne 3’ was unusal, interesting and very appropriate in the light of the upcoming 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Makes you think about your own local environment. How can I help to keep it clean?  I know there’s a Calne Clean up Crew but indivdually we have to play our own part in  cutting down on packaging and taking home our rubbish if there is no litter bin. Greta would be chuffed.

The art exhibition has drawn a lot of attention with its diversity of work by artists both professional and amateur. Local people who don’t necessarily go to Festival events ‘not my cup of tea’ have been coming to Marden House to see the work of friends and family who have contributed their pictures. Also, no doubt, enjoying the other 252 pictures on view.

The festival is always jam-packed with a wide range of events for young and old – this year, from jazz, folk, classical recitals, choirs, opera, drama and poetry.

Finale of ‘The Mikado’ performed by Opera Anywhere

Coleridge in Calne, a revue ‘The Life and Times of William Bowles of Bremhill,’ a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado by Opera Anywhere , and lockdown photography by Pam and Eddy Lane. Something for everyone, and more.

To be continued