Exhibitions & Displays: Future
College Commissions: All Souls and New College 2012
13th September 2012 to 28th October 2012
The Ashmolean Museum unveils two new commissions made for the University of Oxford’s colleges, All Souls Triptych a three-panel group portrait by Benjamin Sullivan and Dance To The Music Of Time, a series of tapestries for New College by the artist Jeni Ross.
All Souls College honours 27 members of its non-academic staff in Benjamin Sullivan’s bold figurative painting All Souls Triptych, the first large-scale depiction of people in their workplace to be made in Britain. As the youngest member to be elected to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at the age of 26 in 2003, Sullivan has exhibited widely, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts and the Mall Galleries. Inspired by mediaeval altarpieces in the form of a triptych (three-panel painting), his artwork echoes the styles of the artists Ford Madox Brown, Stanley Spencer and David Hockney.
Founded in 1438 by Henry VI and Henry Chichele, a fellow of New College and Archbishop of Canterbury, All Souls College is primarily an academic research institution with particular strengths in the Humanities and Social and Theoretical Sciences. While the Triptych provides a rare insight behind the scenes of College life, it is also a token of recognition of how much the College depends on the people who work in it. The three panels focus on many of the day to day activities, including administrative work, catering, housekeeping and maintenance.
In contrast, New College is one of the largest Oxford colleges, with some 400 undergraduates and nearly 300 graduates. Jeni Ross’s tapestries have been designed to hang in one of the oldest public spaces in College, the Founders’ Library. The commission, funded entirely from private donations, was partly inspired by the practical needs of the space itself; after the removal of the last books some years ago, making the need to damp down a very reverberant room all too apparent. For the past 23 years, Ross has designed tapestries, rugs and wall hangings for public commissions, now found in hospitals, theatres, museums and government buildings across the United Kingdom.
Ross’s New College commission, entitled Dance To the Music of Time, consists of 6 tapestry panels of abstract design, standing either individually or as a set. She has used 12 shades of blue to represent the passing of time, a reference to the work of the Bauhaus artist, Johannes Itten, whose 12-tone colour theory related to music. She has created harmonies and balance between each piece, shadows and light which can be interpreted as day and night, evoking both time and space, with references to the solar system and the deeper universe.
Dr Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean said “The University of Oxford has a long tradition of commissioning works of art from leading artists of the time, such as Mark Wallinger’s commission Y in 2008 for Magdalen College. As one of the University’s museums, we are delighted to showcase these remarkable and diverse works of art in a special public display before they are permanently installed within the colleges.”
Exhibition: COLLEGE COMMISSIONS: ALL SOULS AND NEW COLLEGE 2012
Dates: 13 September –28 October 2012
Venue: Ashmolean Special Exhibition Galleries 59
Tickets: Free Admission
Jeni Ross designs and makes contemporary woven tapestries, rugs and tufted wall hangings. Working with yarns offers richness and depth of colour and allows her strong colourful designs to bring texture and content to both homes and public buildings. Jeni is primarily concerned with colour and movement. Design influences come from many sources; fine art, performance, literature. Her designs use layers, contrasts and cycles; earth and air, night and day, negative and positive. These are interpreted using qualities of theatre; colour and illumination, the interplay of planes and textures. For more information please visit http://www.jeniross.co.uk/.
Benjamin Sullivan studied painting and drawing at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2000. His work has been included in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the BP Portrait Award and won the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize (2007). He is represented in many public and private collections, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Scottish Academy, Parliament House, Edinburgh, and several Oxford and Cambridge Colleges. He lives and works in Suffolk.
For more information pleas visit http://www.benjaminsullivan.co.uk/index.htm
All Souls College
All Souls College is primarily an academic research institution with particular strengths in the Humanities and Social and Theoretical Sciences and an outstanding library. Although its fellows are involved in teaching and supervision of research, there are no undergraduate members. There are 80 Fellows of All Souls and through the Examination Fellowships and Post-Doctoral Fellowships, the College is strongly committed to academics at an early stage of their careers. For further information visit http://www.asc.ox.ac.uk/.
New College was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham (1324-1404), bishop of Winchester, as ‘the college of St Mary of Winchester at Oxford’. Almost immediately it became known as ‘New College’ to distinguish it from the other Oxford college dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Oriel (1326). New College has a distinguished musical tradition: its choir is world famous and the musical life of the college is extraordinary. Like all Oxford colleges, it is an autonomous, self-governing institution. For more information visit http://www.new.ox.ac.uk/.