it’s festival time again in wirksworth

Olivia Punnettt
Olivia Punnettt

Exhibitors from all over the world will be drawn to Wirksworth this month for one of the top visual arts showcases in the country.

Wirksworth Festival is a three-week spectacle spotlighting everything from performance arts to installation art, dance to drama, sculpture to storytelling.

The annual celebration launches on September 7 with the Art & Architecture Trails Weekend.

More than 170 artists and makers will be showing and selling work in homes, gardens, shop windows and churches.

Highlights of the trails weekend include the designer maker markets in the Town Hall and Memorial Hall, bringing together the region’s best contemporary jewellery, ceramics, textiles, glassware and other crafts.

The contemporary visual arts programme includes ten new commissioned works. Four artists will exhibit major new works alongside six smaller commissions by regional and local artists.

Using an eclectic range of media from installation and painting to video and performance, the commissions all have a poetic, architectural or organic relationship with Wirksworth.

Among the exhibitors is Olivia Punnett, (pictured) who is based in the town.

Her site-specific installation will be at Greenhill, where she will use chalk to mark out the lights path and their trajectory across the hillside, marks which will fade with the weather.

She said: “Wirksworth is a very exciting canvas, as it’s so full of history, characters and curiosities to draw inspiration from.“It’s great to exhibit in my home town as I know this place and its atmospheric and seasonal changes very well"

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There will be also be an exhibition of the work of Gerry Vaughan, the renowned artist and educator who was central to the regeneration of Wirksworth in the 1970s.

Musical highlights will include Public Service Broadcasting, fresh from festivals including Glastonbury, who weave samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material around live drums, guitar, banjo and electronics.

Salamanda Tandem will take over one of Wirksworth’s quarries with an interactive audio visual dance piece.

From Down Under, Arts Outwest present The Australian Pavilion, transforming the Derbyshire Eco-Centre, and Kim Deacon will present her one-woman show, Of Henry Lawson and His Loves.

There’s plenty for families and younger audiences, including storytelling, The Man Who Planted Trees by Puppet State Theatre and the Babbling Vagabonds’ production of Brothers Grimm.

This year’s festival finale includes a performance of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s powerful fairy tale, The Princess’ Blankets at Stone Wood, with a procession leading to an outdoor venue.