2019 Programme

Event Reviews

Sculpture Garden

Sculpture Garden The Sculpture Garden at the Odney Club, curated by Lucy Irvine, again proved a huge draw for the art lovers and Cookham Festival crowds. Not everyone can or will afford a massively impressive sculpture such as the monumental white figures, “Back to back” by Lilly Henry, beneath the spreading cedar trees of The Odney Club but what a joy to have the opportunity to enjoy them all. Many buyers settled for a bright blue bird bath or a water feature by popular artist, Sarah Cox.

All the sculptors are British working artists and thoroughly deserve to have their work showcased and sold at outstanding events such as the Sculpture Garden. This is, intentionally, not a craft show with 50p eggcups on sale but a Sculpture Garden for serious sculpture by serious artists.

The grand gardens of Cookham’s Odney Club deserve nothing less. Lucy Irvine, as curator, took her role seriously and stepped up to and beyond the expectations of the Festival audience and of the John Lewis management who kindly allow use of the gardens at the Odney Club for the Sculpture Garden. The exhibition started with a private view for previous collectors and on the opening day, a public chainsaw demonstration by the successful wood artist Simon O’Rourke.


Gala Concert - Cantorum Choir

May 19th 2019

Cantorum Choir The 2019 Cookham Festival was brought to an end with a stunning concert by Cookham’s Cantorum Choir and Orchestra, conducted by Robert Jones. The evening opened with Handel’s ‘O Praise the Lord with One Consent’ (Chandos Anthem 9), written for the Duke of Chandos in Edgware, London. This was brightly and energetically sung by the choir and excellently accompanied by the orchestra led by Caroline Balding. The opening chorus, based on a hymn tune by William Croft, one of Handel’s contemporaries, was very effective with robust and accurate singing from the choir. The solos and airs were not easy, but all soloists rose to the challenge and Ed Millard in particular excelled in ‘That God is Great’ – a foretaste of what Handel was later to produce in his more famous bass solos in the Messiah.

The orchestra then thrilled us with the movement ‘Summer’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. This was a scintillating performance from the string players with the solo part dramatically and beautifully played by Caroline Balding.

Finally, we reached the climax of the evening – Handel’s Dixit Dominus, composed when he was only 22 whilst in Italy and strongly influenced by his Baroque contemporaries, not least Vivaldi. The choir captured the youthful exuberance that pervades this piece of music excellently and delivered a crisp and measured performance. From the full and dramatic sound of ‘Juravit Dominus’ to the tumbling ‘Ruinas’ and the hammering ‘Conquassabit’ to the dazzling and exciting ‘Gloria Patri et Filio’ this was as fitting an end to the Festival as one could imagine. Well done Cantorum Choir and Orchestra.

Apollo Big Band

May 17th 2019

The Festival Arts Hub On the last Friday of the Festival the Apollo Big Band from Swindon played to a packed and appreciative audience at the Pinder Hall. The band had five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, guitar, bass, drums and keyboard and an excellent lady singer, Steph Richardson. Led by the musical director and alto saxophonist, Les Bruce, the band played a wide variety of tunes ranging from Duke Ellington to Ted Heath (the band!) to Buddy Rich and Booker T, from classics of the Thirties to modern funk! Steph used a great range to sing Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. The band swung from first to last and used soloists to great effect in particular the trumpet section using flugel horns and a strong trombone section. Les Bruce played clarinet in an atmospheric performance of Glenn Miller’s ‘Russian Patrol’. This was a really professional and polished performance and can be heard regularly in Stockcross near Newbury.

Comedy Club

May 16th 2019

Deliver your Dreams Packed house, great comedy, roars of laughter and much conviviality.

Stanley Spencer and his wife Hilda Carline Spencer in Poetry

May 15th 2019

Stanley Spencer A small but very appreciative audience attended the Parish Centre on Tuesday evening for readings by leading poets Rosie Jackson and Graham Burchell from their new joint collection of poems “Stanley Spencer and his wife Hilda Carline Spencer in poetry”.

The poems were all based on the works of Stanley and Hilda Spencer, illustrated by appropriate paintings and photographs. The lively Q&A session after the readings indicated the extent to which thye readings had obviously been enjoyed by the audience. The new book will be published by Two Rivers Press in 2020 and will be very worth looking out for.

Rosie was the winner of the 2017 Cookham Festival Stanley Spencer Poetry Competition and her new poems showed what a worthy winner she was. She was matched by Graham Burchell. Rosie has long been inspired by Spencer’s works, albeit Graham is a more recent, but equally committed, convert. It was noted that Spencer has a singular ability to inspire poets, due to the diversity of his work and life experiences.

Delivering Your Dreams

May 15th 2019

Deliver your DreamsCookham Dean Cricket Club is an ideal place to spend a warm, sunny spring evening, especially when you can combine it with a Festival event. On Wednesday a panel of a local illustrator and three authors shared their passions for their crafts and told how they had worked to get their work published or performed.

Andrew Prewett told how he had moved from an outstanding career in advertising and product design – if you ever bought vinyl records you will almost certainly have bought them in sleeves designed by Andrew – to illustrating books for others and publishing his own cartoons.


Robin and Lucienne Day – The First Life-Style Gurus

May 14th 2019

gurus Judy Faraday, Manager of the John Lewis Heritage centre in Cookham gave a talk on the remarkable role that Robin and Lucienne Day played in the design history of Britain in the latter half of the 20th century.

At the Royal College of Art Robin concentrated on furniture and Lucienne’s work centred around printed textiles and after graduation they both began working as teachers. After the War Robin worked on exhibitions and graphic design projects for government departments which led to him to design much of the interior of the Royal Festival Hall and also the striking Festival of Britain in 1951. His room sets at the Festival included some of Lucienne’s furnishing textiles and her design Calyx was to go on to be a best seller.


Festival Art Exhibition – Squaring up to Cookham

May 14th 2019

All members of the Cookham Arts Club and various local artists were asked to create a 30 x 30 cm square view of Cookham for the Festival Exhibition. The idea for this format came from an exhibition run by the Tate in St Ives. It was somewhat difficult to be restricted in size but many talented local artists rose to this challenge and produced some excellent pieces of artwork.

The exhibition took place over the second week of the festival fortnight and the venue was the Cookham Library Community Room. In all, 44 pieces of artwork was displayed using a variety of mediums. They produced a wonderful display of window like views of Cookham. Visitors remarked on how good it was to recognise the views on display.

The exhibition was a little off the beaten track but those who did find it found the works inspiring and talked to me about needing to pick up a paintbrush again, to get creative and re-kindle their own love of art.

I would like to thank, in particular, the talented and enthusiastic members of the Cookham Arts Club for their contribution to this exhibition.

The Seven Ages of Shakespeare

May 13th 2019

7 ages of Shakespeare One of the real joys of the Cookham Festival is the opportunity it provides for local stars to show us their skills. This was the case at Pinder Hall on Monday when local actor and writer Richard James performed his one man show “The Seven Ages of Shakespeare”. It was an excellent show, enjoyed to the full by a large audience. Richard took us through Shakespeare’s life story, illustrated by performances of his famous speeches and poems.

Richard has made a massive contribution to recent festivals with his “People’s Shakespeare” productions. He called upon some of his fellow actors from those plays to help him bring his show to life, albeit the choice of Denis Boothman as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet was perhaps less than totally convincing!

The prolonged final applause was ample evidence of the audience’s enjoyment; a well conceived, expertly written and brilliantly delivered performance. Hopefully Richard will find another chance to bring it to local audiences in the not too distant future.

A Family Concert - Peter and The Wolf

May 12th 2019

Jez Lowe The Cookham Festival family concert took place in the magnificent setting of the Sir Bernard Miller Centre in the Odney Club, Cookham on Sunday 12th May. And to kick the party off the Festival Concert Orchestra launched into the Thunderbirds theme. With full brass and the entire orchestra playing, the effect was electrifying – no Sunday afternoon snooze to be had here – it was as if the concert hall was about to take off.

John Timewell, the conductor clearly and concisely led his audience through the musical imagery of the next two pieces: Smetena’s Moldau which describes the flow of the river Moldau from its source in the mountains to finally, majestically passing through the city of Prague and secondly Cinderella by English composer, Eric Coates which followed the well-known children’s story.


The Festival Arts Hub

May 11th and 12th 2019

The Festival Arts Hub Over the weekend of 11th and 12th May, The Cookham Parish Centre became the Festival Arts Hub. This was designed to give festival goers opportunities to have taster classes in a variety of artistic activities. The aim of this was to inspire people to have a go and develop their own artistic abilities in a fun and engaging way.

This objective was very much achieved with the help of 3 local professional artists who ran a series of workshops and 72 festival goers took the opportunity to learn new skills in a calm and imaginative environment. They were encouraged to be creative and build on new skills learnt. In 90 minute sessions they received expert demonstrations and guidance and used quality materials to produce their own work to take home.


Shall I Carve? Talk and Demonstration

May 11th 2019

Shall I Carve Colin Mantripp, a Master Carver and owner of the Lillyfee Studios in Woburn Green gave a talk on the commissioned work that he does. Charming and self-effacing, Colin described how, from leaving school and becoming an apprentice to his grand-father’s firm of architectural woodwork and furniture makers, carving and the search for beauty in design had become his life.

The Lillyfee studios were set up in 1994 and now employ some 16 members of staff. Colin asserted that they never advertised but obtained their commissions by referral, a testament to the quality of the work delivered by himself and his team. Perhaps surprisingly the projects managed by Lillyfee included house designs as well as prestigious renovation work for well-known institutions, such as Eton College, Windsor Castle and Lord Burnham and numerous stately homes here and overseas.


Folk, Fun and Food

May 11th 2019

Jez Lowe This year’s Cookham Festival has had music for all ages and for all tastes. Some performers have been extremely talented local personalities and some have been performers who have travelled the world.

So it was at Pinder Hall last Saturday 11th May 2019 that we were able to welcome the famous folk singer, songwriter Jez Lowe with his Bad Pennies. What a great evening of entertainment they gave us. One can only describe the sound as acoustic simplicity plus electric vitality. It was obvious to all how much the group enjoy live performance and for us who were on the receiving end we were able to hear the sound of Kate Bramley on fiddle and vocals, Andy May on Northumbrian pipes and piano, David de la Haye on electric fretless bass and Jez himself on vocals, guitar, and cittern. We were even treated to one of Jez’s latest own solo compositions. We heard true folk bought to life as they sang traditional mining songs and about the culture of the North East of which you could feel their passion.


The Anchoress's Story

May 11th 2019
The Anchoress's Story

A king, concerned for his welfare in the afterlife, an archbishop (deceased), an ignorant village priest, a peasant and a worldly bishop concerned with the present more than the past – not an ensemble cast that springs to mind, but these men which represented a range of society in the last quarter of the 12th century were brought to life through the pen of Michael Johnson to throw light on one of Holy Trinity’s mysteries. Why did a sane and healthy woman choose to be walled up in a little cell on the cold North side of the church for the ten years preceding her death, and why in the pipe rolls is there a record of King Henry II paying out a whole half penny per day in a pension, as it is thought, to this woman?


The Cycling Artist

May 10th 2019

Cycling Artist

 Probably better known for his Wacaday antics, Timmy Mallett showed a completely different side to his persona in the “Cycling Artist” on Friday 10th May in Cookham’s Pinder Hall. Taking his audience through the early formative years of his career as maverick radio DJ, number 1 hit and television star, rubbing shoulders with his equally unconventional and talented co-stars, he led us effortlessly to his decision to conquer the “Way of St James” – the Camino de Santiago, but on a bicycle. And not only to cycle the journey from Cookham to Santiago de Compostela but to record his journey in paint. This was all part of his desire to ‘reach his potential’ and was inspired by his brother Martin, who despite suffering from Downs Syndrome and dementia, strived to live each day to his full potential.


Katie Cox and The Rythm of the River

May 10th 2019

Katie Cox and The Rythm of the River It’s a Hit! The schoolchildren of Cookham were truly rockin’ and showing the celebrities at ‘Rock on the Moor’ how to do it! It was a stupendous success…. A blast. The world premiere of ‘Katie Cox and the Rhythm of the River’ was launched at Taplow House on Friday 10th May: A children’s cantata confidently performed by the combined primary schools of Cookham. Namely Holy Trinity, Cookham Dean, Cookham Rise and Herries schools.

It was a fabulously charming, imaginative and innovative work by the local composer, musician and actor Rob Castell commissioned by The Cookham Festival and will, I am sure, soon be competing with other children’s cantatas for ‘most popular musical’ with schools up and down the country.

Upbeat, sassy Katie Cox a sweet local girl stands in as Coxswain when Dwain the local crew’s Cox is ill. Katie loves nature, has a beautiful strong voice and loves singing. She spends most of her time singing to the river and all the wonderful animals that live along it’s banks.


The Great Exhibition Brass Ensemble

May 8th 2019

Great Exhibition On Wednesday 8th May, The Great Exhibition Brass Ensemble performed an enjoyable and memorable concert in the beautiful and intimate setting of St John the Baptist Church, Cookham Dean. The five performers played a variety of nineteenth century chamber music on original period instruments or accurate copies, which have a softer, more delicate sound than their contemporary equivalents. Despite the challenges of playing period instruments, the intonation throughout was remarkably accurate and the blend was well balanced.


“The Wonderful World of Walliams”

May 6th 2019

GangstaGranny The Festival provided a Bank Holiday treat for parents and children on Monday 6 May - when actor and author Richard James gave a reading of his specially abridged version of David Walliams best selling children’s book “Gangsta Granny”.

24 children and parents were happy to take an afternoon’s holiday at the Community Room to be spellbound hearing Richard give a captivating reading of Walliams’ modern classic. As Richard intimated at the start of the reading, he has a special connection with the world of Walliams, having toured the country with two theatre productions of Walliams’ books. This expertise was brilliantly demonstrated in the dramatic reading he gave, which kept even the youngest of the audience glued to their seats.

Glasses of squash, cups of tea, biscuits and sweeties were provided – so everyone left happy, smiling and wondering what would happen to Granny.

Stephanie Diggan

What Larks!

May 5th 2019

What Larks Andy Draper’s celebration of Charles Dickens ‘What Larks!’ examined the life and works of the greatest novelist of the Victorian era, using his own words and those of his biographers Clare Tomalin and Peter Ackroyd.

The company Mike Clark, Jenny Evans, Ted Harris, Ros Joynes and Ricky Lonmon illustrated aspects of his life through monologues and dialogues. These were interspersed with singing from the Men’s Choir of Holy Trinity Church Cookham, under the musical direction of Sara and Victoria Wood.

In the course of the evening we came to a greater understanding of this complex man, who, despite his strong social conscience, abandoned his wife and family for an actress many years his junior. His own experiences gave life to memorable characters he created, such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Mr Micawber and Uriah Heep.

The performance ended with the words ‘What Larks!’ used by Pip in Great Expectations to mean having fun or to reminisce of good times in the past. A fitting end to a joyful evening.

Live@ Holy Trinity Church

May 5th 2019

Liveatchurch Cookham Church played host to the stunning visual effect and musical phenomena ‘Live Wire Productions’ on Saturday 4th May. Renowned for their State-of-the-Art lighting and sound, together with effective atmospheric mist, they transformed the church into an eerie, ethereal, out of this world space.

Barney Newman, on guitar, banjo and vocals and Tom Leary, fiddle and mandolin kicked off the gig. Playing many of his original country blues and roots songs Barney, complimented by the furious, agile fiddling of Tom created an infectious up-tempo rousing performance.

Matthew Lowe and Daniel Trenholme, from the Folk Duo Stables owned the second half. Their energetic and creative playing, aligned with great vocal harmonies created a foot tapping atmosphere and got the pews rocking entertaining us with both cover versions and original material. Daniel, in particular, added vocals, percussion and a variety of other sound-effects. It was like watching someone pat their head and rub their tummy x 10. A great evening enjoyed by all!

Spring Is Bursting Out All Over!

May 5th 2019 Photo Gallery

Knit1Purl1The Knit1Purl1 group of approximately 30 ladies evolved from last year’s WW1 Centenary Poppy Project in Holy Trinity Church.

The ladies so enjoyed getting together to knit that another project was requested and, right on cue, The Cookham Festival Committee suggested a ‘guerrilla knitting’ installation!

The generous offer from a local resident to decorate their lovely garden and railings gave us the idea of enhancing it’s charm with a wide variety of birds and insects that can be seen in our countryside at this time of year. Finally, we added some colourful flowers from our own imagination - we hope it makes you smile!

Bernadette Clark

Sculpture Garden

May 4th 2019 Photo Gallery

Sculpture Garden Gallery

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