Open For Art festival 2017

Open for Art weekend, 30 June – 2 July, is a three-day festival showcasing Reading's arts, heritage, culture and creative industries. New for 2017, we are hosting a crafty music concert with children’s musician Nick Cope, floral head crown making hosted by Florist of the year finalist and Chelsea Gold Award winner Emma from Sonning Flowers and an embroidery masterclass inspired by Frida Kahlo, interactive art from chess sets to paintings, and collages inspired by Lucienne Day, marking her 100th birthday.

Open for Art 2017 includes new talks and walks - explore the hidden waterways in our walk for all across the town centre, marking the flow of the water, visit the 38 venues hosting artworks by Reading artists or explore the Public Arts Trail that includes 3 new pieces for 2017.

This year the team of our volunteer Arts Ambassadors are being supported by Reading’s Business Improvement District and you will be able to find them throughout the weekend, identifiable by their t-shirts and giant lollipops, they will be on hand to tell you where to find things and you can pick up a map to follow trails. You can even book a free walk with them where they can help you seek out your favourite pieces from finding the dog's paw on the side of Reading's Town Hall to some of the more hidden Public Art pieces or search out artworks on the Artists Trail.

Launching on Friday 30th June, with “Breakfast with an Artist” in Malmaison Hotel at 8am, all are welcome to hear the story behind the work of Rebecca Swainston, interviewed by Editor of Female Arts, Wendy Thomson.

We then welcome singer and songwriter Nick Cope for a special Jelly Tots craft and music session at 10:30am., starting with a craft workshop with the Jelly Team, followed by a fun filled, interactive concert in the friendly atmosphere of The Biscuit Tin café, near Reading Station. Jacobs the Jewellers are showcasing an exhibition of young designers and makers alongside examples from the impressive Civic Collection of works by Gerald Benney. Take the opportunity to vote for your favourite pieces form the young makers, who will also be hosting a live skills demonstration at 3pm and the winner of the peoples vote will be revealed at 4pm,

In the evening, we celebrate Frida Kahlo with floral head crown making at Sonning Flowers, enjoying light refreshments and good company. Electric Hair will also be on hand to hairstyle your beautiful crown creation ready for a photo session and night out of drinks & chat at one of Reading’s much-loved independent bars, Milk.

Saturday 1st July offers a host of fresh delights with an artisan market on Station Hill, a newly created performance piece inspired by ‘The Wind in the Willows by drama company Berzerk Productions and mid-century inspired Mandala drawing with Squirrel Ink. We will be hearing peoples’ stories and experiences through a number of talks and walks, including the 'My Word' Poetry Group with live poetry and words about Frida Kahlo and Reading Waterways followed by a colourful, cultural evening of embroidery and tapas creating a unique, hand embroidered Frida Kahlo creation, whilst savouring some delicious Mexican inspired tapas at Nomad Bakery.

Open for Art 2017 will include the return of the Open Air Art Challenge on Sunday 2nd July where artists can create a piece of artwork inspired by Reading and the public vote to choose the winner of £100 prize. This year the Open Air Art Challenge is based at Gas Works Bridge Road, alongside Bel & The Dragon. This is a perfect opportunity to visit The Turbine House and see the work created by The Engine Room. Sunday also welcomes a walk as part of an immersive art experience, following the traces of the river across the town, with participants carrying a balloon and stopping in locations to mark the flow of the Reading’s waterways, funded by Reading Business Improvement District's ARENA programme.

For the full programme of events please visit

Workshops and events bookable here:

Printed maps available from Jelly, 53 Broad Street Mall, Reading or downloadable now at at

The Open for Art Weekend Festival is curated by Jelly

Supported by Hunstwood, Reading Business Improvement District ARENA funding, Pineapple and Cream Design

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