Oxford Art Round Up: Get your visual art fix from Oxfordshire’s Indies
There’s definitely a buzz of creativity in Oxford and the county at the moment. Have you noticed it? Galleries are reopening, street art is going up and there are murmurings of more art to view on the streets of Oxford soon…
So if you’re after your culture fix, we’ve rounded up how to get your fill of visual arts from bright bold murals to delicate artwork to thought provoking installations, all from Oxfordshire’s brilliant indies.
Three Oxford based artists, Lisa Curtis, Nor Greenhalgh and Sam Skinner, collaborated on this bright, bold mural on boarding covering the front of The Bullingdon on Cowley Road. It is the final of three murals commissioned by Fusion Arts and Oxford City Council with the aim of spreading the stay safe message whilst reflecting the community and brightening up currently unused spaces.
The artists commented, “We wanted to emphasise the importance of care and looking out for each other, as our best chance of fighting Covid. The community itself must be our protection. The phrase “You are my contingency” flips the authoritative tone of usual Covid messaging and underlines vulnerability: we all ultimately rely on one another.”
Head up to Summertown to explore this wonderful gallery’s new exhibition, Beyond Surface. Bringing together four exceptional artists; Andrew Hood, Nathalie Moisy, Simon J Harris and Carol Peace, Beyond Surface explores figurative and abstract realms and how the two often intersect.
‘Abstraction is not a new concept,‘ says gallery director Sarah Wiseman. ‘Some of its earliest forms were seen in the ink splashes of 11th century Chinese painting, for example. The challenge now is for artists now is to keep on pushing through to discover something seen, or unseen; play with the structure and different elements or materials. Through observation and conceptual thought, they peel back the layers to create new ways of seeing the world.’
Beyond Surface opens on the 10th October and runs until 7th November.
Image: Nathalie Moisy
As part of the Photo Oxford Festival, The Jam Factory are exhibiting The New Woman by Elena Gallina. Amidst one of the worst summers for civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s history (2019), Gallina flew to Kabul to photograph and interview dozens of women about the role beauty plays in their lives: is it a strength or weakness, a source of power or a means of exploitation?
‘’I chose to photograph and speak to Afghan women because they, far too often in the last two decades, have been tokenized, victimized, and painted in only one light by the international community. Yes, they are on the frontlines. But they are neither victims nor heroes, they are simply women like all the rest, crying out to create a new kingdom.’’ – Gallina
The exhibition, unstaged portraits and ponderings, invites viewers to suspend prior conceptions of “women in war zones” and enter into a complicated, universally applicable, conversation about the dualities of beauty.
See the exhibition 16th October to 16th November.
Image: Elena Gallina
This joyful and colourful mural, commissioned by Indie Oxford member Fusion Arts and Oxford City Council following a call out in last August, encourages us to stay safe and support each other at this time. Woven through it you’ll find statements of thanks for small acts of kindness people in the community experienced during lock down.
“This is exactly the kind of project I love – purposeful, meaningful public engagement with science, injecting beauty into urban space, conveying important messages of compassion and interconnectedness. Street art is such a great way to publicly express gratitude towards key workers and to celebrate the greater sense of solidarity that emerged during lockdown, in spite of all of the hardships and challenges we’ve been facing.” Artist, Bryony Benge-Abbot (Bryony and Bloom).
Benge-Abbott’s bold, colourful paintings are built in layers, interweaving memory-traces with maps, ancient mythology with botany, and playing with scale, colour and pattern in the search for fresh perspectives on human and nature connectedness.
From modern art the antique prints at Sanders on Oxford’s High Street. As one of the longest running, and last remaining, general antique print sellers left in the world this shop is an absolute treasure trove of stock! Operating somewhere between a shop and a gallery they aim to provide a less intimidating, and more inviting, backdrop to browse our varied and extensive collection of prints and maps than our history might suggest.
They sell antique prints and maps from the 15th – 20th century, covering virtually every subject and location you can think of. These sit alongside a collection of works by UK based contemporary printmakers, priced to suit every pocket. All of the prints and maps they sell are guaranteed original, with no reproductions, copies, or digital prints.
Sanders are currently open Wed-Sunday 10-5pm
Have you walked past artist Luke Embden‘s mural right in the heart of Oxford on George Street yet?
Following a call out for artists in late August 2020 by Fusion Arts and Oxford City Council, Luke Embden was selected to produce the George Street mural and spread the stay safe message (and create some colourful joy!).
Embden has used his bold colour palette and infectious graphic style on projects all over the world, but due to the pandemic was back here in Oxfordshire with family. Embden does commercial work for global brands but his passion lies in community-based projects where he interacts and engages with the public, looking upon his work as performance art, feeding off the surrounding environment and the energy of people that he meets.
THE ULTIMATE PICTURE PALACE
As part of the Photo Oxford Festival, The UPP are showing Tracking Edith, a gripping documentary about renowned British/Austrian photographer Edith Tudor-Hart who led a double life as a secret agent for the KGB and was one of the architects of the Soviet Union’s most successful spy ring in Great Britain.
This one-off screening will be followed by a Q&A with British scholar Amanda Hopkinson.
‘Tracking Edith is a fascinating but sprawling feature documentary whose structure matches its subject’s chaotic life.’ Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent
Tracking Edith is showing on Wednesday 21st October, 6pm. Booking via the UPP website.
Union Street Mural, Cowley Road
The property that now has this beautiful mural has displayed artwork on the exterior since the 70s. However, in recent years the wall was been repeatedly tagged and so was painted a solid colour. Mani and Fusion, alongside support from Oxford City Council have now brought life back to the large wall and created a new artwork with a homage to the original mural.
This exciting gallery reopened with a bang on the 2nd October with two new exhibitions; Mariana Castillo Deball: Between making and knowing something and Responsive Space.
Deball’s exhibition focuses on sharing the stories of a number of little-known female anthropologists and indigenous storytellers and makers. To do this, the artist recreates historical artefacts and reconfigures display cases to expose how museum collections both conceal and reveal historical narratives and shape our understanding of the world.
The Responsive Space exhibition includes work from three art projects that took place during lock down. One project, Activating Our Archives, was supported by Indie Oxford member, Fusion Arts, and explores storytelling through digital images and archiving.
Entry is free. Booking essential. Both exhibitions are on until 3rd Jan.
HAVE YOU BEEN INSPIRED?
Make sure you let us know what you get up to, where you visit and what you see by using #IndieOxford on socials!