Christ Church Arts Week is well under way, but before the week kicked off, I sat down with one of the organizers, Chandler Sterling, who showed me why Oxford should be very excited about this student art extravaganza.
Chandler is one in a team of four students, two undergraduates and two postgraduates, who decided to undertake the mammoth task of organizing an arts week. She described the college itself as a “tremendously strong resource” for organising the events, as Christ Church is fortunate enough to have a large collection of art around the college and in the Picture Gallery. Despite this, in the past few years the annual arts weeks have been fizzling out, so this year the team decided to revive the tradition and put on a truly spectacular arts week, and have succeeded in scheduling 28 events that span from the 15th to the 23rd of February.
Diversity was the word that we kept coming back to in our interview, and that can be clearly reflected in the event schedule. Diversity of experience is definitely reflected in the events on offer, but there is also diversity in the types of art that the organizers decided to include. Some events seem scarily professional, such as the opening of the Sleepless Alliance exhibition at the Pembroke JCR art gallery on the 22nd. Other events are just “plain old fun”, like a sketching session with a skeletal horse that Professor Sarah Simblet has constructed in the upper library, also on the 22nd.
Visual arts create a firm foundation for the week, but all arts forms have been embraced as integral parts of the arts week. Kicking off the festivities was a poetry reading by Alice Oswald, with Jazz and Salsa also making an appearance. On the evening of Thursday the 21st a brave volunteer performed Manwatching, a monologue about female desire designed to be read aloud by a man who has never seen the script before.
Undergrad art makes up an impressively high portion of the week, as from the beginning of the festival we have been treated to pieces scattered around the college. A lovely addition to the project is Michelle Chin’s virtual tour of the college on Soundcloud, which aims to get people to roam about the grounds listening to others describing things about the college that caught their eye when they visited for the first time.
What struck me the most when talking to Chandler was how much thought, creativity and dedication went into planning the week. Hopefully, something has sparked your interest, and you’ll make a quick visit to Christ Church to enjoy one or two things that are on offer.
Christ Church Arts week runs from the 15th to the 23rd of February
Michelle Chin’s soundcloud project can be found at https://www.michellezchin.com/tourofchch
Photograph by Tegan O’Hara