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Just Looking - 
James Gemmill | Gavin Lockheart

Saturday, April 20th - Sunday, April 28th (Opening times here)

Private View: Friday, April 19th 6:30-9pm (RSVP here)

Talk with Sonja Klaus and 'Just Looking' Artists James Gemmill & Gavin Lockheart, Thursday April 25, 6:30-7:30pm

Artists will be in attendance each day the exhibition is open.

“I hope that the imagery in this new body of work reflects an empathetic story of a truth about the human condition in today’s world.”

[James Gemmill, 2024]

“I’m an unreliable narrator – so the interpretation is left up to the viewer.” 

[Gavin Lockheart, 2024]

Oxford Festival of the Arts is delighted to be working together with the Pembroke College JCR Art Collection to present “Just Looking” – an exhibition of the work of James Gemmill and Gavin Lockheart.  There is a subliminal thread across these works – they play on different possible interpretations of stories told/untold – and that is what is fascinating about James’ and Gavin’s work.  They tell a story (or do they?), but that story is completely up to the viewer.  There is a darkness in some of the paintings, a link to horrors around us and man’s inhumanity to man, but is there a glimmer of hope? That is up to you. 


With its references to the darkness of war and conflict, this exhibition also links to the foundation of the PC JCR Art Collection established in 1947 by Anthony Emery, a mature undergraduate who came to Pembroke to read History following his return from WWII; and leads on to our next exhibition of works by British surrealist painter and war artist Paul Nash, which will be shedding light on the Oxfordshire locations that inspired his work and the Oxonian women who supported him. 

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“I hope that the imagery in this new body of work reflects an empathetic story of a truth about the human condition in today’s world. If a painting of a group of workers, an empty room, or a figure in the dark, can evoke a response that reflects what is happening in real life, then the creation of this painting is justified.  The story of each painting can, and I hope, will, be interpreted and embellished upon by the viewer… and may not be what I intended.” - James Gemmill


“I try to avoid ambiguity in real life, but that is what I like about painting.  I can relay the chain of events that lead to the painting: from sources, to process, to result; but it is up to the individual how to perceive each painting.  I borrow and steal from my past, my memories, photographs, film stills, to create something new.  I am an unreliable narrator – so the interpretation is left up to the viewer.”  - Gavin Lockheart


Oxfordshire-based artist James Gemmill has a wide-ranging artistic career, working in film, television, and design, as well as in the more traditional context of gallery artist.  He has been commissioned large works in the cinematic world, including the recreation of sections of the Louvre gallery for “The Da Vinci Code”; the theatrical set of the film “Anna Karenina”, the reproductions for “The Last Vermeer”, and “Glass Onion: A knives out mystery” just to name a few.  James studied at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City and at the University of Boston; after which he received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London. His work is held in a number of prestigious collections in different countries. Most recently, Gemmill’s work was exhibited at The Mall in London, at Old Brompton Gallery, South West London, and at New College Oxford, as part of Oxford Festival of the Arts – with whom he has established an ongoing partnership.  


Gavin Lockheart was born in the Midlands between picturesque countryside and the heavy industry of the Black Country. His paintings sit mostly within a generalised landscape genre but often with further imagery apparent on the surfaces; figures, faces, flowers, vehicles, buildings, drawn from a lifetime of taking pictures, not so much an imagined world as a reconstructed one. Rural features appear incongruously in the city; figures seem out of place in their environment, though seeping into it. The use of multi layered imagery throws the understanding of depth out of focus and sets up a scenario where the surface functions both as screen and as window.  Gavin studied at St. Martin’s and has shown in the U.S and Europe and in 2007 completed a nine story wall installation in Manchester. He lives and works in London.  Some of Gavin’s work can be viewed, by appointment, at the Artist Room, Great Chapel Street, Soho.


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What you lookin' at?

An online exhibition

Explore our collection with our new online exhibition Portraits: What you lookin' at?  Discover paintings, sculptures, photographs and drawings which depicture figures and faces. Some of the sitters stare out of the frame, looking back at the viewer. Others are seemingly unaware they are being watched, captured unawares. 

Collection Favourites
an online exhibition walkthrough and guide

While the gallery remains closed to the public, we are delighted to offer digital access to our collection on display. We have continued the Collection Favourites display, incorporating favourites selected by the governing committee of JCR students and Pembroke College staff.

What is your Collection Favourite? Tell us via email or social media  |  @pembrokejcrart  |  #collectionfavourites


Discover our collection of Post-war British artworks. We have over 300 artworks in our collection including drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints and digital works. 



We host a number of exhibitions, collection displays and events throughout the year. Find out about

What's On at the gallery.

Pembroke_s 40th Anniversary of Women_29.


Explore our previous exhibitions.



Find out how our unique collection was started and how it has developed since the 1940s.

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Read our blog. We have articles about our collection, student artwork, events and the wider art world.

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