Photo Oxford Festival 2021
Women and Photography: Ways of Seeing and Being Seen
The Photo Oxford 2021 festival will run from 15 October to 15 November 2021 in venues and public spaces across Oxford and online.
The fourth Photo Oxford festival continues the theme Women and Photography: Ways of Seeing and Being Seen, to complete and expand on the 2020 festival, which was restricted by the Covid situation but did offer an exciting taste of the rich potential of the theme.
The 2021 festival will present a diverse and ambitious programme of free exhibitions, outdoor installations and related events, projections and film screenings, exploring the theme and women as photographers, photographic subjects, curators, collectors and researchers.
The festival offers professional development opportunities for photographers, including portfolio reviews, and exhibitions by emerging photographers who were finalists in the 2020 Open Call. Alongside the new and emerging, there are insights into precious photographic archives of photographs by and of women who were pioneers in their craft.
The festival is delivered to the public in collaboration with venues across the city, and with local, national and international partners, and includes public engagement projects.
A Different Mirror, curated by Katy Barron and James Hyman, brings together original works by Heather Agyepong (winner of the Emerging Photographer of the Year Award 2021 at Photo London), Jo Spence, Alexis Hunter and Maud Sulter addressing the festival theme.
Line and Texture: The photography of Nancy Sheung, an exhibition of rarely seen, striking black and white photographs by Hong Kong photographer and RPS member, Nancy Sheung (1914-1979). Her work emphasizes strong lines and patterns, and she frequently centres her camera on female subjects. The exhibition has been curated by Dr Michael Pritchard with the support of the Estate of Nancy Sheung and the Confucius Institute.
Dutch photographer, Carla van de Puttelaar’s still and ‘moving photos’ allow the eye to touch the skin on many levels. Her Light Touch exhibition will be on show in a pop up gallery.
A city centre trail will reveal autochrome images by early women colour photographers, including one time Oxford residents Sarah Angelina Acland (1849-1930) and Etheldreda Laing (1872-1960). The window trail is curated by Catlin Langford, cataloguer of the autochrome collection at the V&A.
Women on Women – Relationships, identity and Power, curated by Hundred Heroines and Robert Taylor combines a street located exhibition, a virtual exhibition, and public conversations in which writers, curators and photographers featured look at the ways women photographers use photography to explore and celebrate relationships and identity.
We will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Liberation March in London in 1971, for which the foundations were laid at the Women’s Liberation Conference at Ruskin College in Oxford. The exhibition of photographs by one of the participants, Sally Fraser, will be in the building where the conference took place. Images of Liberation, curated and produced by festival partners Four Corners, offers striking images from photographer-on-the-ground Sally Fraser as she captured the fiery beginnings of second wave feminism in Britain.
In collaboration with St Andrew’s University Museum, we will share online images by feminist social documentary photographer, and co-founder of the original Zero Tolerance campaign, Frank Raffles (1955-1994), with contemporary text.
In collaboration with the History of Science Museum, we will celebrate the vital role and personal stories of vaccine trial volunteers around the world with portraits by Oxford based photographer Fran Monks, taken in the only way then possible: via Zoom. The installation will be enhanced by an online discussion event bringing together the photographer, a vaccine trial volunteer, a scientist on the Oxford Astra Zeneca trial and a museum professional working on the current collection relating to Covid-19 and Oxford University.
The Fabric of Photography will be explored in an exhibition of work by 12 artists working with experimental photographic processes, curated by Megan Ringrose at The Old Firestation. The exhibition will be accompanied by weekly workshops on photography, cyanotype, anthotype and chemigrams, now open for booking.
Chloe Dewe Mathews’ Thames Log photographs of human connections with the river, from source to mouth, is displayed outdoors on the banks of the Thames, in Christ Church Meadows.
Mari Mahr and Joanna Vestey’s work on the theme of Photography and the Book will be shown alongside a curated collection of books and a screen display that presents the work of 6 women photographers who have explored this theme. Both mediums have long rich histories with Oxford dating back to their earliest moments of inception.
Honouring of the work and legacy of social documentary and Picture Post photographer Grace Robertson (1930-2021) and her influence on contemporary women photographers, Moments of Transition: The Photographs of Grace Robertson (1930-2021), reflects a humanistic lens on women’s lives and post war Britain by one of the first women photographers working for Picture Post. The online exhibition is curated by Catlin Langford and Helen Trompeteler and accompanied by online events.
Women are presented as subjects of photography in a new exhibition, curated by Vanessa Winship, from Jim Grover’s photo essay celebrating the 25th anniversary of women being admitted to the priesthood of the Church of England, appropriately hosted in the University Church of St Mary's
One woman features in the online exhibition Hollywood Icon: Greta Garbo, Siren of the Screen. To coincide with the publication of a major new study of Greta Garbo, this online exhibition presents a selection of photographs of the Hollywood legend, who has become synonymous with cinema’s golden age of the 1920s and 1930s. Author and leading scholar Robert Dance offers a newly written essay on the life and career of Garbo, with particular emphasis on the film star as photographic subject.
The Pitt Rivers Museum hosts the Khadija Saye (1992-2017) photo series Dwellings: In This Space We Breathe. An exhibition of nine stunning silkscreen prints(1992-2017), exploring the artist’s fascination with the ‘migration’ of traditional Gambian spiritual practices that formed a part of her childhood experience growing up in London with Gambian parents. Acknowledged as a hugely talented and promising artist, both Saye and her mother were tragically killed in the Grenfell Tower fire.
In Catherine, Kiambé, Surya early career French photographer Elisa Moris Vai (a winner in the Photo Oxford 2020 Open Call) will show her images based on characters in novels by Nobel Prize writer JMG Le Clezio set in Mauritius. Early career curator Pelumi Odubanjo will add her interpretation to the series, to be hosted by the Maison Francaise d’Oxford. The post-colonial themes of the exhibition and the literary works will also be explored in an associated conference convened in collaboration with literature researcher Justine Feyereisen: Women, Memory & Transmission - Postcolonial Perspectives from the Arts and Literature. The keynote speaker is Deborah Willis, African-American artist, photographer, curator of photography, photographic historian, author, and educator. She will be joined by other photographic artists as well as researchers from Oxford and around the world. The conference is supported by TORCH (the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities).
Other early career photographers from the Photo Oxford 2020 Open Call will exhibit their work. German photographer Maria Mirja Thiel will contribute her series Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man exploring creativity and dementia in an online exhibition, pending a full exhibition when the exhibition space at Oxford’s John Radcliffe hospital can open to the public.
2020 Open Call finalist, Oxford photographer Caroline Seymour, was given unprecedented access to the operating theatre in which Mr Peter Kalu, a plastic surgeon at the John Radcliffe Hospital, specialises in a procedure called 'free flap breast reconstruction’. She will share her
series of black and white photographs in Plastic Theatre at Stanford House.
Visual artist Teresa Williams makes multi-layered stories with photography at their core. Her exhibition of digital composites and original and disrupted photographs are a playfully nostalgic unveiling of friendship, shared experiences and journeys before and during a time when the world’s travel stopped. Exhibited at Wolfson College.
The Ashmolean Museum’s special exhibition curated by Lena Fritsch Tokyo: Art and Photography (the only ticketed exhibition in the programme) is a celebration of one of the world’s most creative, dynamic and thrilling cities. The exhibition contributes to the festival with contemporary photographs by Moriyama Daido and Ninagawa Mika.
Also on the Japanese theme, Water Lily: Dance of Darkness, a photographic series by Oxford-based photographer Keiko Ikeuchi featuring Kazuo Ohno (1906-2010). Ohno was a celebrated pioneer of Butoh, an avant-garde form of dance theatre which is often described as the ‘Dance of Darkness’.
An online exhibition from a private collection of photographs of the kimono adds to the exploration of images of and inspired by Japan.
Family connections emerge from online exhibitions of portraits by forgotten German Jewish women photographers, and images of matrilineal descent curated by photographic specialists within Oxford University museums.
ArtsLab Fourteen is a collaboration of 14 early career women photographers from Oxfordshire, created by The North Wall arts centre for Photo Oxford. Led by Philippa James, the group uses the number '14' as its catalyst to create and curate work for an online and in gallery exhibition.
Oxford Brookes University’s BA photography students will exhibit work by 3 New Voices in the Oxford Covered Market.
HATCHED 2021: Women Creating Landscapes at OVADA brings together the practices of local and international lens-based artists to voice the multiple aspects of gender inequalities: reproductive rights, gender-based violence, and trafficking.
Screenings and projections
Opening the festival on the evening of Friday 15 October will be street facing projections on the Ruskin School of Art building in East Oxford. On show will be photographs by American photographers Vivian Maier, Susan Meiselas and Judith Joy Ross, curated by Isabelle Seniuta, exploring how women relate to each other without a male perspective in photography. Also projected will be a selection from Bindi Vora's Mountain of Salt, 2020-2021 series, a human response to the unfolding of Covid-19 through found images, appropriated text and digital shape collages.
Film as Sculpture is a programme of work by British experimental women filmmakers who use photochemical practices to process film material in physical and sculptural ways. Curated by Helen de Witt, there will be screenings at Modern Art Oxford, complementing their Anish Kapoor exhibition.
The Ultimate Picture Palace cinema will host a screening of the new documentary film Picture Stories, with a Director’s introduction and Q&A. The film tells the remarkable story of the iconic Picture Post magazine through its photographers, writers and editors. Leading contemporary photographers reflect on Picture Post’s extraordinary images and influence.
A series of online talks and discussions will complement and enhance the exhibitions.
Moments of Transition: The Photographs of Grace Robertson (1930-2021) is complemented by online events, hosted by RPS. The first explores Robertson’s contribution to Picture Post, and its representation of British women and children in particular. The second presents the work of contemporary photographer Elinor Carucci, continuing the focus of Robertson’s focus on women’s lives.
Photo historian Rose Teanby will follow up her very popular Photo Oxford 2020 talk on early women photographers, by delving back even further back in history, into the role of Mary Somerville (1780–1872), renowned for her contributions to nineteenth century science but unjustly largely absent from photographic history. Hosted by RPS.
Further events related to the festival theme are in development. For details of all events, and booking links, see www.photooxford.org
Professional development opportunities are offered through the Festival Portfolio Reviews on Sunday 17 October at the Bodleian’s Weston Library. Six women reviewers, with a range of photographic expertise, will offer their comments and guidance to aspiring photographers. Bookings will open during the week commencing 20 September. Details to be announced through the festival website and social media.
Film Oxford is offering weekend digital photography courses during the festival. The workshops associated with the Fabric of Photography exhibition at Arts at The Old Firestation offer rare opportunities to learn about and try out new, old and experimental material photographic processes.
Young people have been engaging with the festival theme and connecting across different parts of Oxford through their photography and will share their work during the Festival.
Notes to editors
For national press and PR enquiries and interviews:
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Selection of images: Low Res Media Images Photo Oxford 2021
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15 October - 15 November 2021
Free admission (some exceptions)
15 -17 October 2021
Artists and curators in exhibition spaces, tours, screenings
Founded by local photojournalist, Robin Laurance, Photography Oxford was established in 2013 to bring internationally acclaimed photography and photographic debate to the city of Oxford.
‘For me, Photo Oxford Festival stands out from the huge variety of photo festivals in its personal, almost intimate approach to celebrate a huge diversity of historic and contemporary national and international photography at a place steeped in tradition like no other.
Everything was done with love, expertise and great enthusiasm.’
Mirja Maria Thiel (Photo Oxford 2020 Open Call public vote winner)
The Photo Oxford festival hosts exhibitions, events and professional development opportunities in collaboration with local, national and international partners to bring photographic excellence to the region, develop new audiences, nurture talent, and promote investment within the sector.
Previous festivals were in 2014, 2017 and 2020. Future festivals will be biennial.
Photo Oxford is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (registration no. 1154142).
This festival has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Supported also by funding from The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation, Fluxus Art Projects and other grant makers and partner organisations.
About Arts Council England
Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from the government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. artscouncil.org.uk
Festival website: https://www.photooxford.org/
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