Photo Oxford Highlights

This press release was issued 13.10.2020 by Photo Oxford. Please email for more info and images

Oxford’s photography festival opens Friday, October 16, celebrating Women and Photography: Ways of Seeing and Being Seen

Photo Oxford 2020 takes place October 16 to November 16, 2020 in venues and public spaces across Oxford and online

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Triple Self Portrait, solarised, 1933, by Helen Muspratt © Bodleian Library

For the next month, the city of Oxford takes on a feminine perspective as the third Photo Oxford festival celebrates the theme Women and Photography: Ways of Seeing and Being Seen.

From October 16 to November 16, exhibits and events across the city will explore the achievements and challenges for women, both behind and in front of the lens, including the problems of representation, women as photographers, collectors and curators, and photographic techniques. The festival also coincides with the centenary of women graduating from the University of Oxford.

Photo Oxford gives visitors the chance to experience original, arresting and rarely-seen photography exhibitions, installations and screenings at venues across the city. The Bodleian Libraries will showcase work of photographer Helen Muspratt (1907-2001), one of Britain’s leading photographers of the early 20th century, and documentary photographer Elena Gallina’s 2019 photographs of women in Afghanistan, exploring the role of beauty in their lives, will be on show at The Jam Factory.

Maison Française d'Oxford will host Clara Bouvresse’s award-winning exhibition panels from Rencontres D'Arles 2019, revealing the photobook-making process of Magnum photographers Eve Arnold, Abigail Heyman and Susan Meiselas, offering a unique look at women’s bodies in the 1970s. Within the exhibition Home & Heart, acclaimed Oxford photographer Paddy Summerfield will show images from Voyage Around My Mother, a sequence of black and white photographs centred on his mother as her life closes down. Circles is the theme of a collection of 20th and 21st century photographs by well known photographers, curated by Oxford photographer and collector Joanna Vestey.

Outdoor exhibitions include Silvia Rosi’s Self Portrait As My Father on Cornmarket Street, Anna Atkins’ 19th century Botanical Illustration & Photographic Innovation on Parks Road, and Fran Monks’ Strength and Resilience, portraits created for Photo Oxford of women connected to homeless drop-in centre The Gatehouse Project in St Giles churchyard. For the Festival’s launch weekend, building projections in public spaces show Miss Acland’s Gaze, exploring Oxford as lived and photographed by the city’s Sarah Angelina Acland (1849-1930) by Oxford Brookes University students, and images of Protest on Camera from the Format Photographers’ Agency.

During Photo Oxford there will be inspiring online interviews with photographers, and panel discussions including Photographers’ Question Time with 100 Heroine photographers from across the world. On October 24 a free one-day online conference, hosted by the Bodleian Library, will explore the critical work of women writing about, collecting, and curating photography. Photography workshops and courses, information about Oxford’s community dark room, exhibitions by local photographers and from Oxford’s eight twin cities, an exhibition of work selected from over 1000 images submitted for the Festival’s Open Call, artists incorporating photography in their practice and family-friendly activities.

More details follow, full info is at Photo Oxford and for media enquiries email

Photo Oxford 2020 Highlights

Helen Muspratt at The Bodleian Libraries

This new exhibition at the Bodleian Libraries will showcase the pioneering work of photographer Helen Muspratt (1907-2001), one of Britain’s leading photographers of the early twentieth century. Curated by her daughter Jessica Sutcliffe, highlighting her ground-breaking work and innovative techniques, her intimate portrayal of life in Soviet Russia and portrait work from her studio in Oxford. See headline image Triple Self Portrait, above.

Self Portrait as my Father from the Encounter series by Silvia Rosi. Cornmarket Street, Oxford, October 16 to November 16

Togolaise-Italian photographer Silvia Rosi explores her family history by retracing her parents’ journey of migration from Togo to Italy and drawing on her Togolaise heritage, and the idea of origins. Photo Oxford will host a giant image from her Encounter series, which was exhibited at Jerwood Arts in London earlier this year, and then on tour internationally, as part of her Jerwood/Photoworks Award. The exhibit is supported by Jesus College, Oxford, and will be installed in a public space in central Oxford, open to a wide audience.

© Silvia Rosi, Self Portrait as my Father from the series Encounter, 2019 Originally commissioned through Jerwood_Photoworks Awards 2020

Strength & Resilience: Celebrating the achievements of the community of women; portraits by Fran Monks, St Giles churchyard, Oxford

Portraits of women who are guests, volunteers and staff at this drop-in centre for Oxford’s homeless and vulnerably-housed. Fran Monks specialises in celebrating the under-celebrated, and has worked with several Oxford colleges to modernise their portraiture to reflect the diversity of their contemporary communities.

From Strength and Resilience © Fran Monks

Elena Gallina: The New Woman at The Jam Factory, Oxford

In 2019, amidst one of the worst summers for civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s history, Elena 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? This exhibition of 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.

Mahdia Danishyar, 16 DOSTI Club Leader, Student Activist by Elena Gallina

Unretouched Women: Eve Arnold, Abigail Heyman & Susan Meiselas.

Curated by Clara Bouveresse at Maison Française d’Oxford, winner of the Rencontres d’Arles curatorial research fellowship.

Exhibition panels revealing the artists’ process of making books to test the photographic image of women. In the mid-1970’s, American photographers Eve Arnold, Abigail Heyman and Susan Meiselas published books offering new looks into the private lives of women. Growing Up Female by Abigail Heyman, is a feminist diary, The Unretouched Woman, by Eve Arnold in 1976, shows women captured at unexpected moments of their daily lives, and in the same year Susan Meiselas’ Carnival Strippers is the result of four years of investigation on traveling striptease shows in the US.

Supermarché by Abigail Heyman, 1971

Circles, curated by Joanna Vestey at her Oxford studio

Taking this simple and profound shape as its starting point, this Oxford-based collection has acquired 50 photographic prints linked by a common visual connection - the existence of a circle somewhere within the frame. The collection weaves an idiosyncratic path through the history photography, from early modernist works by Edward Steichen and Imogen Cunningham, to conceptually-driven works by John Baldessari and Lewis Baltz and politically motivated works by Broomberg and Chanarin.

Max Pinckers, National City No.3, 1996-2009

Home and Heart: Paddy Summerfield & Patricia Baker-Cassidy at The Barn, Old Bank Hotel. Photo composites accompanied by specially created music, coda to Mother and Father photo book by Paddy Summerfield

Paddy Summerfield, Voyage Around My Mother

Open Space, work by Femke Dekkers and curated by Anstice Oakeshott at Zuleika Gallery, Woodstock. This multidisciplinary artist brings together photography, painting and sculpture to explore the limits of human vision and comprehension. Treating her studio as a stage set, Dekkers explores the tension between static architecture and illusions of painterly perspective.

Femke Dekkers 15-03, August 2, Thursday, 2012, Inkjetprint on dibond 70 x 101 cm Edition of 3 + 2AP

Helena, Every Day is a Morning After, JA Mortram. Curated by JA Mortram and Grant Scott An exhibition film with images, voice of Helena and of the artist: portraying the life of a young girl in small town inertia, co-curated by Grant Scott, head of Photography at Oxford Brookes University.

J A Mortram, Small Town Inertia

Pitt Rivers staff selection

Staff from this iconic museum select their favourites on the festival theme from the Pitt Rivers photographic collection.

Self-portrait by Tibetan artist Nyema Droma, 2018. Courtesy Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Photo Oxford Open Call winners and shortlisted works at OVADA

National Narrative, Christelle. winner of the Photo Oxford Open Call Expert Choice. Photo © Elisa Moris Vai

The 40 selected works from Photo Oxford’s Open Call contest will be on show at arts organisation OVADA, Oxford (subject to Covid-19 restrictions), and there will be an online exhibition.

Women and Photography display at the History of Science Museum

Display of prints and lantern slides by Sarah Angelina Acland and Anna Atkins, a photo of Annie Rogers (one of the first Oxford women graduates in 1920) by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), and photographic equipment used by Charles Dodgson and others.

Mariana Castillo Deball: Between Making and Knowing Something, at Modern Art Oxford, is an exhibition inspired by the historic photography collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.

Outdoor projections: Miss Acland’s Gaze: Oxford as photographed and lived by Sarah Angelina Acland (1849-1930) - building projection in Gloucester Green, October 16 and 17, 6 to 10pm.

Architecture students at Oxford Brookes explore and respond to Sarah Angelina Acland’s life and early colour photography. This will be complemented by:

Protest on Camera images curated by Maggie Murray and Taous Dahmani. Maggie is a founder of Format Photographers Agency, which supported female photographers from 1983 to 2003. Taous is a PhD student at Panthéon-Sorbonne and Maison Française d’Oxford.

Online conference: Let Us Now Praise Famous Women: Discovering the work of female photographers. October 24, 9.30am to 2.30pm, free. Hosted by The Bodleian Library and organised by Taous Dahmani. A day of talks on women's contributions to photography. Speakers include Val Williams, Erika Lederman, Jessica Sutcliffe (Helen Muspratt’s daughter), Professor Patrizia Di Bello, Deborah Cherry, Fiona Rogers, Max Houghton and Anna Fox.

One Hundred Heroines

A Photo Oxford edition of this renowned series of discussion and Q&A with a panel of international photography heroines. Led by photography curator Madeleine Preston.

Illustrated interviews around women and photography

Dr Lena Fritsch, Ashmolean Museum’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and photography historian Taous Dahmani will conduct online interviews around the Photo Oxford theme.

Blogs include Lost and Found: Discovering and Revealing the Histories of Women Photographers by Catlin Langford, inaugural Curatorial Fellow in Photography, supported by the Bern Schwartz Family Foundation at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Searching for Early Women Photographers by Rose Teanby. Rose will also be giving an online talk The First Women of Photography 1839-1860, hosted for the Festival by the Royal Photographic Society

Oxford is increasingly recognised as a centre for photographic practice and research, and the festival will offer insights into archives and current practice in partnership with the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University and Oxford’s cultural institutions including the Ashmolean Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum and Modern Art Oxford.


Media contact Karen David, email

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