Dr Samson Kambalu with one of the young winners Suqi Tang, and a friend

It was an impressive start to the annual Oxford Art Society‘s free Open Exhibition with a record breaking 365 submissions from 214 artists on show.

Internationally renowned artist and Oxford academic Dr Samson Kambalu was on hand to pick three winners in the Young Artist Competition. Currently exhibiting at Modern Art Oxford, Dr Samson Kambalu has been selected for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2022, so it was quite a coup to have him at the opening event this weekend.

Carrie Stanley – Virago

Lizzie Collins from Zuleika Gallery in Woodstock picked the overall exhibition winner, selecting ‘Virago’ by Carrie Stanley for the Oxford Art Society Open Prize, particularly noticing its exuberant celebration of ‘playfulness, bravery and strength’.

Lizzie adds: It was almost impossible to choose one work, and I wish I could have selected a range, however when pushed, there was one that stood out for me – Carrie Stanley’s ‘Virago’.

“It just oozes a magnetic energy and vibrancy. It feels uncompromising and as if the attitude of the sitter and the artist have combined on the canvas. For me, it is simply an extremely refreshing work, and a joy to see.”

Lizzie Wheeler’s first prize entry

The three winners of the Oxford Art Society’s Young Artist Competition, designed to encourage young artists in the city, with a first prize of £500 donated by the Lucy Group, were: 1st prize to Lizzie Wheeler for The Peace of Wild Things, 2nd prize to Richard Matthews with Untitled and 3rd prize to Suqi Tang for Moth and shepherd.

Laurence Norman’s Portraits For NHS Heroes entry of Self Ndlovu

Which is not to detract from the main propose of the event which was to highlight the annual Open Exhibition in the beautiful airy setting of the Cloisters Gallery SJE in East Oxford and all of its incredible artists.

Martyn Burdon – Miles Jupp

And what an incredible array of local talent adorns the walls there: Alongside The Oxford Printmakers work, you can find exuberant abstracts by well known artists Kieran Stiles and Alison Berrett and still lifes by Sarah Spackman.

Sue Smith – Scene from the Middle East

Portraits include OAS member Tom Croft, of Portraits for NHS Heroes fame, (READ ABOUT HIS INSPIRING PROJECT HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/the-incredible-story-of-how-oxford-based-painter-tom-crofts-project-portraitsfornhsheroes-became-global/), plus BP Portrait Award exhibitors Martyn Burdon and Mark Draisey with portraits fresh from the 2020 awards.

Tom Croft – Peter

Another prize winner and OAS Member, Ruth Swain, is showing her witty ‘Self portrait with Lucian Freud’, another prize winning piece from the Holly Bush Woman Painters’ prize.

Ruth Swain’s Head In A Book

The beautiful cloisters also set off the exquisite carving of Catherine Binnie’s Summer Bird whose wings guide the light flooding through the leaded windows to shape abstract forms, David Williams’ Waves and Martin Smith’s tactile piece as you enter the exhibition.

David Williams’ Waves

There is so much to take in, and the exhibition is a wonderful reflection of the work going on in Oxford’s artistic community this year, in so many genres, despite the traumatic circumstances.

Sally Kimminau-Jobling – Bill Bailey

 The Oxford Art Society was formed in 1891 by Walter Tyrwhitt to encourage art in the city and university. The Society has held an annual exhibition every year except during World War II. So make sure you visit and celebrate the very best of Oxford’s artistic talent.

It now prides itself on its FREE annual exhibition, which builds on its reputation for quality and originality year on year, as the number of entries increases along with public interest.

Lucy Stopford Mask

Oxford Art Society’s Open Exhibition runs daily until Sunday September 5 from 11am – 6pm. https://oxfordartsociety.co.uk/exhibitions/