Writing for WEEKEND magazine since 2003.

My first  non- antiques feature in Weekend , the magazine of  The Oxford Times  – Oxford’s equivalent of Time Out,  appeared in 2004.

The arts editor, Chris Gray,  titled it ‘The elegant spirit of our time’.

I had telephoned him asking if I could review the Eric Ravilious exhibition at the Imperial War Museum and he replied

“No” but after a moment’s hesitation, he continued   “You can do the Armani at the RA.”

I had deliberately chosen the subject of costume for my first antiques feature in Limited Edition because it was treated like Cinderella by the antiques trade so maybe Chris thought I was a fashion expert.

I didn’t hesitate: I said ‘yes’ and headed off to London dressed in my vintage tweed jacket. Surrounded by the main stream fashion reporters sporting Armani jackets, I found the occasion amusing .

 My opening sentence was,

 “’A fashion exhibition? Over my dead body” so said Norman Rosenthal, exhibitions Secretary of The Royal Academy of Arts. I watched as a very much alive Norman introduced Giorgio Armani to the assembled members of the press.”

I tackled the review not with a fashionista’s eye but through the lens of history. Observing how his clothes has changed along with women’s role in society was fascinating.

The piece looked good, so maybe that was why Chris relented and said I could review the Eric Ravilious. Until recently I wrote two reviews a month for Weekend. So there are too many to list here but I’m choosing a selection from each year so you can have an impression of the variety.

Weekend Magazine: a selection of full page reviews.( 900 words)


April: The Art Deco exhibition at The V@A

NB My castaway Ray Foulk – an antiques dealer as well as founder of The Isle of Wight Festival helped furnish the French room.

November: Glass Act lll @ The County Seat:  Geoffrey Baxter and Whitefriars



January: Review of The Giorgio Armani retrospective at The Royal Academy.

January: A celebration of Eric Ravilious @ the Imperial War Museum

May: Anarchy to Glamour: Vivienne Westwood @the V&A

June:  Bill Brandt Retrospective at the V&A

October: A coming of Age? Black British style @The V&A

November: Christopher Dresser: Britain’s first professionally trained designer.

@The V&A



January: A Cut Above: Matisse @ Banbury Museum.

March: Let’s go to Egypt: The Ashmolean for children.

March: Africa Remix @ the Hayward Gallery –A Mix of Sadness and Hope.

June: A Portrait of an Epic Life: A Stars Art Movement founder, Qu Lei lei @ The Ashmolean.

July: Hidden Treasure: The Pitt Rivers

July: A Picture of Britain: Tate Britain

September: Imagine: Budding Artists @ Modern Art Oxford (Schools Show)

December: T.E Lawrence.  The Imperial War Museum



January: China: The Three Emperors @ the RA

NB. This magnificent show was curated by Jessica Rawson who became one of the first women to be appointed Master of an old Oxford College ( Merton). In 2011, I had the privilege of casting her away on Oxtopia.

February: Tom Philips @ the Ashmolean

September:  Tiffany at  Somerset House

October: An Empire built on furniture: Self- assembly furniture from the days of the Raj!  Exhibition @ Christopher Clark Antiques

November: A Portrait of the Artist as Pure Genius: Leonardo’s notebooks @ the V&A



January: Chola: Sacred Sculptures@ the RA

January : Visual Haiku: Michael Kenna @ Banbury Museum

February: Citizens and Kings @ The RA

May: Antony Gormley’s Blind Light @ the Hayward Gallery

June: The Summer Exhibition @the RA

August: Pub Signs @ the Banbury Museum

September: China: The First Emperor @The British Museum

November: The Golden Age of Couture @ the V&A

November: China Prints @ The Ashmolean



January: Oxfordshire Print Collective show at Sanders Oxford

February: A talented Trio: My Ashmolean.  Children’s imaginative artistic responses; the best for display on the back of buses and outside the museum.

March: From Russia with Love?  From Russia @ the RA

April: Back Home:  Jean Preston’s bequest to the Ashmolean : Burne Jones’ Music Room.

May: China Design Now @ the V&A

August: A light- hearted look at The Seventies: Oxfordshire Museum

October: Oscar Kokoschka and Jack B. Yeats @ Compton Verney

October: Byzantium @ the RA



January: Darwin @ the Natural History Museum (London)

February: Palladio @ The RA

May: Oxford Brookes University Graduate Art Show

June: Theo Chalmers’ photographs on the forecourt of The Ashmolean

June: A walk through Bagley Woods

July: Constable Portraits @ Compton Verney

December: Wild Thing @ the RA. Epstein,Gill and Gaudier Brezeska.



January: Britain’s Finest Gardens @ Blenheim Palace

February: In Henry Taunt’s footsteps @ Oxfordshire Museum,Woodstock

February: The opening of the refurbished Medieval and Renaissance Galleries @The V&Aamp;A

May: Bacon in Camera @ Compton Verney

This exhibition inspired me to write this poem

Bacon in Camera
by Sylvia Vetta

I trod on layer upon deep layer

of canvas and paint encrusted  paper;

upon dreams, once vivid now discarded.

Before a bizarre collage, my steps jarred.

Arranged in chaos, deeply ordered

were myriad photo f r a g m e n t s

of models torn, ripped apart; pasted layers

of bent legs, noses and penises.

Hanging here and there were scribbled notes.


leering over me, an image with brushstrokes

of raw emotion: a seated portrait

of George Dyer in his pants, like Podarke.

I had stumbled on a private place, seen a secret;

the artist’s damaged spirit,

wounded by that painted man, his lover.

Francis Bacon caught in camera.


November: Kurt Tong photographs @ Compton Verney


January: Gladys @ Blenheim Palace

April: Cultural Revolution (China) @ The Ashmolean

April: Why Picasso was inspired by African Art: Champungu Sculpture @ Waterperry Gardens.

April: Alfred Wallis and Ben Nicholson @ Compton Verney

May: Mathematics Meets Art: Oxford Brookes Graduate Art Show

June: Majolica @ Waddesdon Manor

October: Kerry Tribe:  Modern Art Oxford



January: John Piper @ Blenheim Palace.

February: A Passage to India: Howard Hodgkin’s collection of Indian art @ the Ashmolean

June: Art on the Edge: Sculpture for the Cultural Olympiad @ the Ashmolean

August: Flight and the Artistic Imagination: Compton Verney

September: Ted Dewan’s Story Loom and Tea with Alice @ The Story Museum.



January: Lights Camera Action: Blenheim Palace as a film location.

March: Xu Bing Landscape: landscript @ The Ashmolean

June: Making Connections: Steven Willats and the Oxford Community Data Stream

@Modern Art Oxford

August: Sketching from Nature: Turner and Constable @ Compton Verney

Coming Up

Masterpieces of Chinese Painting @ the V&A.

(You can find the copy of some posted on this site)

I also regularly review books for Maggie Hartford’s book page