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Oxford's portrayal of diversity

PROUD: Dr Patricia Daley, Professor of the Human Geography of Africa at Oxford University

AN EXHIBITION of portraits commissioned to showcase the diversity of staff and past students at Oxford
University has opened.

The Full Picture: Oxford in Portraits is held at the Weston Library and features more than 20 paintings, drawings and photographs commissioned earlier this year as part of the University’s Diversifying Portraiture project.

The initiative aims to broad- en the range of people represented around the University and features living Oxonians including BBC journalist Reeta Chakrabarti, eminent astro- physicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, human rights activist Kumi Naidoo, film and television director Ken Loach, and broadcaster and charity campaigner Dame Esther Rantzen.

Portraits completed since the project was launched are on show in the Weston’s Black- well Hall until early January.

The free exhibition, which is open to the public, features current academics and former students: a mixture of individuals including people with dis- abilities, people from a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and people from LGBTQ+ communities. Sitters were selected from more than 100 nominations of living Oxonians. The project is funded by the Oxford Diversity Fund, and the portraits will later be hung in the University’s Examination

Schools, one of its most prominent public spaces. The newly commissioned works will add to and complement Oxford’s rich collection of existing college and University portraits.

Dr Rebecca Surender, Advocate and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality and Diversity at Oxford University, said: “It is important for students and staff to feel at home at Oxford, and to feel inspired by people they can relate to. This series of portraits, created by a talented group of artists, will broaden the range of people represented around the University.

“All of those nominated and selected to take part have made enormous contributions to Oxford life and to society more widely.

“I’ve been looking forward immensely to seeing the portraits go on show at the Wes- ton Library, and I hope people in Oxford will stop by to see this varied and exciting collection of works.”

Speaking when the project was launched earlier this year, BBC journalist Reeta Chakra- barti, who studied at Exeter College, Oxford, said: “I loved my time at Oxford. There weren’t many people from my background at university there. But that didn’t stop my experience from being good. I hope this project will show that Ox- ford is open to everyone, and that it wants to be more so. I hope too that it reflects pre- sent-day Oxford back at itself, and that it encourages an ever more diverse range of people to study there.”

Professor Patricia Daley, Professor of the Human Geography of Africa at Oxford University, said: “This project is a bold attempt by the University to make a statement about inclusivity, and I was happy to be part of it.

“Having my portrait painted by Binny Mathews was a wonderful experience and gave me plenty to think about – what it is like to be an educator at Oxford, the importance of my contribution as a woman racialised as black, and the ways in which our physical features are perceived by others.”

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