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This month

MAY 2018

Oxford Art Weeks, various venues in Oxon, Sat 5 – Mon 28 May

James jackman art

Painting by James Jackman. Exhibiting at Dornley Barn, Westcote Burton, near Chipping Norton

Be inspired to get your canvas out with this free county-wide art festival. Works will be popping up all over the place as the artists of Oxfordshire show us how it’s done. Painting, sculpture, furniture, digital art and much more in some unexpected venues, you can buy, have a go yourself or just admire the spectrum of talent on display.


Bitten Street Food market, Oxford, Sat 5 May

Having had the Westgate take over the Castle Quarter to construct their shiny new shopping heaven, Bitten Street food market (named one of the best street food markets in the country not once but twice) returns bigger and better on the first Saturday monthly. I know the Bitten girls a bit and they’re fab, friendly and really know their food, so you’ll get great food and entertainment, PLUS the market has extended into local crafts and produce. Cue my hummus-y hands all over the handicrafts.


The Wild Tweed Show, West Wycombe Estate, Sun 6 – Mon 7 May

archery bow arrow

Hunters wellies and Barbours at the ready for this tally-ho event in the Chilterns. Boutique shopping, champagne bar, artisan food stalls and gin tasting combine with clay pigeon shooting, working dogs, and archery. There are free creative workshops in drawing and photography as well as children’s authors, interviews and live music. First one to spot an Alice band wins a fiver!


An Evening with Rory Bremner, Arts at Stowe, Wed 9 May

Rory Bremner

I’m liking the scheduling at Arts at Stowe, one of the underated (and most beautiful) venues in North Bucks. In aid of the wildlife charity Tusk, patron Rory Bremner will be performing anecdotes, impressions and a Q&A in the elegant Roxburgh Hall at Stowe.  There’s also a VIP package that includes dinner and drinks in the state music room for £100 a pop. That fee does, however, include Rory’s a capella rendition of the high C aria from The Magic Flute (er, one bit of this isn’t true).


Supper club alerts

They keep on coming! Three supper clubs to whet your appetite this month. Long time Muddy faves, the super-slick Native Feasts (created by Michelin-starred chef Chris Godfrey), are back on 11/12 May at Coopers Marlow in Bucks while over in Oxford TVC, owners of the coolest view in the city, is hosting a two-nighter on May 16 & 17 with Smoke & Thyme. Looking for something more rustic?  You’ll like the vibe at Sandy Lane Farm’s seasonal dinner on 4/5 May, where you gather around a fire-pit before adjourning to a barn to eat.


Oxford International Film Festival, Curzon and The Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford, Fri 11 – Sun 13 May

Love a bit of independent cinema at Muddy and this year the new Curzon, Westgate, and the Ultimate Picture Palace are joining forces to give us some of the best independent cinema from around the world. There’s all sorts of categories but I’m particularly liking the look of Rosamund Pike in Human Voice, adapted from the play by Jean Cocteau, an unflinching portrait of heartbreak as two lovers have their final phone conversation. What’s more we’ve heard in our shell like that Rosamund Pike will be doing a Q&A after the screening on Sunday night.


The Family in Disorder, Modern Art Oxford – now until 27 May

modern art Oxford

No, this is not the Muddy office during the Awards but it could be a fair representation of my fried brain at the moment. Popping into Modern Art Oxford the other day I was stopped in my tracks by this dramatic art installation by Cinthia Marcelle, one of Brazil’s most significant artists. Having created two barrier-like structures out of a mix of materials, Cinthia then invited six local artists (Aaron Head, Chris Jackson, Kamila Janska, Andy Owen, Sebastian Thomas and Aline Tima) to destroy them and then rebuild one of the structures. Apparently it’s saying something about political protest against patriarchal structures in these troubled times. Right on, sister!

Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, OX1 1BP


An Officer & A Gentleman, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, Mon 7 – Sat 12 May

This is a movie etched forever on my brain – anyone else have happy teenage memories of Richard Gere in full navals (or maybe, er, half navals? OK, let’s face it just his naval)? Like all films pre 1990 An Office & A Gentleman has now been judged ripe for a musical makeover, and this is its premiere season, having started last month in Leicester’s Curve theatre. The soundtrack includes the hit song from the movie Up Where We Belong along with Eighties anthems including Girls Just Want to Have FunLivin’ On A PrayerHeart of Glass, Material Girl, and ‘The Final Countdown’.  The Muddy fromage-ometer is riper than a blue cheese in the midday sun but pass those goddam crackers and fill up my wine glass, I’m grabbing my girl posse and GOING.


Royal Wedding, Windsor, Sat 19 May

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement photos Frogmore House Windsor Berkshire

Image: Alexi Lubomirski

There is one ticket in town that everyone wants this month and it’s a FROW seat to the Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Invite got lost in the post? *Sniff* Mine too. Heading to Windsor, if you can’t get near the action, The Boatman will be screening the I dos, fizz and food by the river. Cliveden House is throwing a glam garden party and The Jelly Lounge Windsor has a day of royal themed fun.


Oxford Beer Week, various pubs, 5 – 13 May

There’s nothing quite like an ice cold beer on a sunny day but I’m too much of a champers freak to stick at a brew or ale for long. But if you and yours are partial to the golden nectar, Oxford Beer Week will hit the mark. A collaboration between breweries in Oxon and Bucks designed to showcase the huuuuuuge range of beers crafted locally, the highlights include The Perch’s beer fest in Binsey (5-7 May), The 7th Witney Beer Festival (Sat 5 May) in St Mary’s Church (SACRILEGE!), XT Brewery Open Day (Sat 12 May) in Long Crendon, Bucks; Seven Stars – Beer, Bangers, Mash & Music (Thurs 10 May); and the Hook Norton Mini Beer Festival (Sun 13 May). Frankly if you’re still sober by mid May it will be a miracle.


Stonor Supercar Sunday, Stonor Park, Henley, Sun 20 May

vintage car close up steering wheel

If you’re a petrol head or at least can appreciate the aesthetic beauty of a really flash or classic car, then cruise on over in your own charabanc to the beautiful Stonor Park for an orgy of metal and leather. Bring a picnic or browse the street food stalls and enjoy the scenery as the pristine front lawn is riddled with pioneering race cars, classic sport cars and modern ‘hypercars’ (apparently it’s a real thing – anyone who knows what it means, fill us in).


Live Friday, American Cool, The Ashmolean, Oxford, Fri 25 May 

John Wayne cowboy

Yee-hah! Join in the evening fun at the Ashmolean in Oxford as it relives the roaring Twenties through to the end of the Great Depression with its first Live Friday of the year. I’m a big fan of these eclectic after-hours immersive events, bringing together performance, music, talks and booze. This time round it’s all about showcasing the America’s Cool Modernism exhibition, so you can expect hidden speakeasy bars, live band Hoedowns, a 1930s Photo Booth and a private mooch around the much-lauded O’Keefe and Sheeler paintings. Vintage American dress is encouraged. I’m already digging out my chaps (hopefully this time I won’t forget my trousers underneath).


Fragment, North Wall Theatre,  Wed 16 – Sat 19 May

Double Fringe First winner Iron Shoes bring gig theatre to Oxford with this musical voyage about love, loss and heartache. Set in Redcar, against the backdrop of the collapse of the steel industryFragment follows Lester Fall, a painter and decorator returning home to face his demons, and attempting to put back together the pieces of a broken heart.


Colourscape, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 26 May – Sun 3rd June

For the fourth year in a row, the spectacular Colourscape returns to Waddesdon with 56 interlinked chambers for the trippiest experience outside of Glastonbury. There’s a new structure to fit the Aviary glade with long views of intense colour and light plus music and dance performances inside the larger spaces. To be honest, the performances are a bit bonkers but you can easily whizz off down another bouncy tunnel if they’re just too, erm, ethnic, for you. Obviously, it’s great for kids too so although the queues are often daunting, persevere as it’s one of the most unusual experiences around.


Common People, Oxford, 26-27 May


Hurray for a city centre festival that it’s easy to get home from. Based in the pretty South Park, this is Bestival founder Rob da Bank’s latest venture which is now in its third year. It’s brilliantly organized, the bands are good (this year’s performers include The New Power Generation of Prince fame, Boney M, Morcheeba and Tiger Mendoza, to name but a few), ditto the kids’ area. And tent refuseniks will be pleased to hear there’s no camping on site.

South Park, Oxford


Springtime Vintage Weekend, Bletchley Park,  Sat 26 – Mon 28 May

Back to the Forties at Bletchley Park. (Blimey, doesn’t anyone want to do anything in the present day any more?). The home of wartime code breaking, a fascinating visit in its own right, is putting on a weekend of  live music, food, stalls, lawn games, historical displays and re-enactors.


Alice in Wonderland, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sun 27 May

Here I am dressed as the Easter Bunny jumping for joy as it’s Bank Holiday Sunday…ahem. Those clever dancey types at Let’s All Dance are performing Alice in Wonderland with two to eleven year olds and special needs kids in mind. Looks thoroughly charming.


Larks In Transit, Bill Bailey, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Wed 30 – Thurs 31 May

From the Far East to Aylesbury, Bill Bailey’s hilarious observations of 2 decades as a travelling comedian with music, storytelling and banter has kept audiences from Vietnam to Shanghai in stitches and now its Aylesbury’s turn. Keep your eyes peeled for our interview with Bill on Muddy next week.

The Aylesbury Waterside


Sarah Raven at Bix Manor, Henley, Tues 29 – Wed 30 May

Sarah raven flowers

The stunning venue of Bix Manor provides the back drop to Sarah Raven’s flower and veg growing masterclasses. I buy rather than grow most of my flowers but I like the idea of learning more about arrangements for parties and everyday displays that don’t just involve plonking them in a vase. Sarah Raven is the superduperpuper expert gardener, cook, author and Gardener’s World presenter so she knows, as Hemingway might have said, her roses from her onions.  The first one-day course is all about flowers, and the second focuses on growing and eating veg with some suggestions for new dishes for those of us feeling uninspired by our daily menus (*puts up hand resignedly*).


Babylon Plants and Flowers Open Day (plus Afternoon Tea) Sat 19 May

Usually just open to the trade, the brilliant Babylon Plants and Flowers is opening its doors to the general public for the day as part of the Chelsea Fringe. Plants will be for sale at wholesale prices and they’ll be homemade cakes and tea.



The Shape of Light, Tate Modern, Wed 2 May to Sun 14 Oct

Antony Cairns, LDN5_051 2017 © Courtesy of the artist Antony Cairns

This new exhibition chronicles 100 years of photography and abstract art, exploring the development of abstraction with photography from early pioneers to our 21st century digital innovators with over 300 works by artists such as Man Ray and Jackson Pollock.


The Design Museum, London, from Thurs 10 May to Sun 7 Oct

Fascinating exhibition of the sculptor turned couturier, Azzedine Alaïa, who found fans in Michelle Obama, Rhianna and Grace Jones, with his flair for couture and refusal to stick to fashion week deadlines.


Joan Jonas, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, 31 May

With all the talk of the pollution of our oceans , this timely four day programme sees the artist Joan Jonas preside over live drawing, readings and film projections exploring the poetic and ecological aspects of ocean life. If you don’t understand what the hell’s going, just walk purposefully around the Turbine Hall looking intelligent. It works for me every time.

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