Image credit: Nina Holguin

Oxford Open Doors to celebrate everyday city life through art

On Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September, the Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT) will invite young people to engage with everyday life in the city through creativity, art, and graffiti as part of their annual Oxford Open Doors event.

As part of a special celebration designed by and for people aged 18-25, a silk screen printing studio will be set up in Oxford Castle for visitors to print designs onto T-shirts and tote bags. A workshop led by Mani Manson-Reeves, an Oxford-based graffiti artist, will teach young people how to personalise their clothes and accessories using stencils of iconic Oxford sights, such as the Radcliffe Camera and the Headington Shark.

While visitors’ screen prints dry, they can complete the OPT’s Hidden Heritage Self-Guided Graffiti Trail. This trail, easily walkable from Oxford Castle, takes visitors around the city centre to discover examples of graffiti through the ages, from etchings in medieval church pews to political slogans left by students in the modern day.

Oxford Open Doors has been run by OPT for the past 15 years. The weekend aims to “celebrate heritage and culture across all walks of the city’s life” by making usually private spaces available for public exploration and engagement. This year, more than 110 doors will be opened, including those of Oxford’s colleges.

Debbie Dance, Director of OPT, said that the event is an opportunity for “local people to come and celebrate their own city”. She noted that there had previously been a growing sentiment that Oxford’s colleges and University buildings were not accessible to the local people who walked past them every day. Oxford Open Doors intends to change that.

Oxford Open Doors’ annual weekend is a great opportunity to see more of the University and the city that was built up around it a few weeks before the start of the new academic year. This year’s theme illustrates that Oxford’s citizens have been resisting conformity and exploring radical ideas for centuries, paving the way for the modern city where the exchange of fresh outlooks on society is welcomed.