Elena Gallina

Next month Oxford will take on a distinctly feminine perspective as the third Photo Oxford festival celebrates the theme Women and Photography – Ways of Seeing and Being Seen, with a staggering variety of photographers, events, subjects, advice, venues and public spaces across Oxford from October 16- 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.

Too Many Blackamoors (9) 2015, Copyright Heather Agyepong, courtesy Hyman Collection, London

The festival also coincides with the centenary of women graduating from the University of Oxford. 

Danielle Battigelli, Photo Oxford festival director, says: “Photography is a field in which women have consistently impacted in positive ways, from the experimentalists of the 19th Century, to the women who worked in photographic studios of the 20th century, and the well known female photographers who are creating stunning, thought-provoking work today.

“through photography and the diversity of artists within, the festival will recognise the challenges faced by women, both behind and in front of the lens”

“In the centenary year of women graduating from Oxford University, we are pleased to celebrate the achievements of women as photographers, collectors and curators.”

Photo Oxford gives visitors the chance to experience original, arresting and rarely seen photography exhibitions, installations and screenings across the city at venues such as The Bodleian Library, where works from 1930’s experimental photographer Helen Muspratt will be on show.

The Barn Gallery at St John’s College is staging A Different Mirror, a major exhibition of works by four women, including renowned visual artist Heather Agyepong and Scottish Ghanaian artist Maud Sulter. 

Fran Monks Nice Cup of Tea portrait

In an outdoor exhibition, photographer Fran Monks will be showing portraits created for Photo Oxford of women connected to homeless drop-in centre The Gatehouse Project.

Documentary photographer Elena Gallina’s 2019 photographs of women in Afghanistan will be on show at The Jam Factory. Building projections include Miss Acland’s Gaze, celebrating Oxford as photographed by the city’s Sarah Angelina Acland (1849-1930), in Gloucester Green.

Throughout the month, there will also be inspiring interviews with photographers, panel discussions featuring the winners of the festival’s Open Call competition, and workshops.

Maud Sulter, Comme d’Habitude, copyright The Maud Sulter Estate copy

On October 24 a free one-day online conference, hosted by the Bodleian Library, will explore women’s contributions to photography. Photography courses, information about Oxford’s community dark room, and family-friendly activities will make Photo Oxford a festival to inspire everyone.

Danielle Battigelli adds: “In a year when struggles for equality and fairness are all the more apparent, the festival will, through photography and the diversity of artists within the festival, recognise the challenges faced by women, both behind and in front of the lens.

Danielle Battigelli: Museum of History of Science – Staff Portraits by Ian Wallman

“Lockdown has revealed some interesting parallels with the constraints placed on early women photographers, as well as opening up new ways to create and share photographic images in the 21st century.

“We are proud to be presenting Photo Oxford in a city increasingly recognised as a centre for photographic research and practice.

“Photo Oxford will be a month-long festival of physical and online exhibitions. Many will be staged within Oxford’s historic and inspiring buildings, as well as outdoors as installations and building projections. The venues we are working with are all keen to open their doors to make exhibits accessible and safe for the public.

Spence I’ll take almost any work. Courtesy Hyman Collection, London

We are making every possible arrangement to ensure our physical exhibits can take place, while providing a rich selection of online content, including artists’ interviews, a conference, workshops and panel discussions.”

For more details go to Photo Oxford

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