This Autumn we are pleased to present Late Entry | Early Doors – a showcase of new acquisitions and the artworks which started the collection. Discover the collection’s first artworks, purchased in the late 1940s and early 1950s, alongside our latest acquisitions. Featuring painting, photography, prints and mixed-media artwork, the exhibition showcases artworks by John Piper, John Minton, Robert Colquhoun, Duncan Grant, Cecil Collins, Michael Ayrton, Peter Ibbetson, Victor Pasmore, Patrick Heron, Prunella Clough, and Percy Wyndham Lewis. Whilst our new acquisitions include artworks by established artists: Chris Ofili, Lubaina Humid, Lina Iris Viktor, Silvia Rossi and Nadine Ijewere; and emerging artists: Mikela Henry-Lowe, Skai Campbell and Jade Pearl.
In order to commence the Pembroke College JCR Art Fund Collection Antony Emery, founder of the collection, persuaded Sir Kenneth Clark, former director of the National Gallery, Slade Professor of Art at the Ruskin School of Art and devisor of the War Artist Scheme to take on the role of ‘Eminent Voluntary Buyer’. Sir Kenneth advised the committee on up-and-coming artists, while the students visited London galleries to select artwork.
Our most recent acquisitions project was not, however, just about acquiring artwork which the students liked, or which might be considered the next big thing. Instead, this acquisitions project had been carefully developed since 2020, initially in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and then in relation to the lived student experience at Oxford.
The remit of the JCR Art Fund is to advance the education of undergraduate members via the acquisition and display of artworks of high quality by contemporary artists. This is a continuation of the legacy set out by Emery in 1947, to acquire good modern paintings by British artists for the JCR. Whilst the collection is varied in terms of artwork medium, the cultural and ethnic background of the artists in the collection is less clear. We wanted to reaffirm our stance that the collection is inclusive and spend that year’s acquisitions budget, plus draw-down extraordinary funds from our reserve (something which is rarely done), to show our support by purchasing artwork by black British artists. ‘British’ is defined in the widest sense as those who were born, lived, studied, worked, or were inspired by Britain.
We asked students from across Pembroke and the Oxford African and Caribbean Society, University of Oxford, to join the committee on the selection panel, and bring their experiences, aesthetic preferences, and interests in the visual arts to the gallery. We have now acquired fourteen artworks by eight artists, from emerging artists to established international names. Some of the artworks will be offered to JCR students to loan for their bedrooms from 2022 as part of our termly loans programme.
Late Entry | Early Doors is part of our continued commitment to acquiring new artwork for the collection, whilst championing artists and uplifting marginalised voices in the art world. We want to continue to consider new ways of working and thinking, whilst readdressing imbalances in our collection to be more relevant to our students and the public.
“As a body fundamentally interlinked with the interests and culture of the JCR, we too need to reflect on the role we play in the combat against racism in all its forms. […] In line with Emery’s vision we should be buying art for the education of our peers that reflects the broader population in Britain and the current state of the Art world, which has regularly featured the contributions from Black British artists.”
[Excerpt from the proposal for the acquisitions project by Peter Corti, the then JCR President and JCR Art Fund Committee Trustee]
This exhibition was open on
Saturday 20 November and Saturday 27 November 2022
12noon - 5pm