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75 sculptures by 23 sculptors: a walk in the park for curator of summer show in the grounds of Newbury’s historic Shaw House

It’s nearly here... before the phenomenally popular – 14,000 visitors last summer – Altered States Open Air Sculpture Exhibition opens in Shaw House grounds at the beginning of next month, N2 had a word with the curator, Newbury sculptor and woodworker Jim Crockatt

Altered States
Altered States

This wonderful exhibition started way back in 2018 because I thought it a fine thing to do.

As a sculptor myself, I understood that many artists need to have the public see their works and there are many more gifted artists out there than there are venues to show their work.

I approached the majestic manor that is Shaw House, set in magnificent lawned grounds, and enquired as to whether such a show could be realised and their response was absolutely yes.

The shared enthusiasm of both parties have propelled this adventure forward and ever upwards.

The Altered States Open Air Sculpture Exhibition opens every Summer for two months and welcomes all people possible by having free entrance and a walk round this most magnificent of houses - refreshments are also available at the cafe on-site.

Each year, I aim to display up to 70 sculptures crafted by about 25 sculptors, all to be viewed in these most luxuriant of rural landscapes. The location in Newbury is easily accessible by foot, bicycles, cars (with ample parking) and by railway. Newbury is an hour's travel from Paddington, London.

It is open 7 days a week from 11am-4pm and very often there are other activities - some theatrical, some musical - happening within the grounds. Photographs are encouraged, as are children, and dogs on a lead.

Jim Crockatt exhibiting one of his works at Insight at The Base
Jim Crockatt exhibiting one of his works at Insight at The Base

I travel extensively round England, hunting and gathering pieces for the show and seeking out sculptors who are suitable for display. I am most discriminate about my requirements which is that pieces are to be over 600mm high, robust for outside location, exhibiting a high level of craft, a vision of imagination, an exuberance of ambition and above all else a visual delight.

I probably turn away more potential works than I accept, but if I like the work, then it gets in the show. We have had a number of members of the Royal Society of Sculptors in the show.

Evidently 14000 people share my aesthetic as that was the footfall last year in 2023. We have had 125 sculptors exhibited thus far…

This year we have 75 sculptures by 23 sculptors, who will be exhibiting their work from August 3-September 29 at Shaw House, Church Road, Newbury RG142DR.

I hope you will be able to join me in my passion for this most magnificent of shows.

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