Diversifying Portraiture at Oxford

Hundreds of portraits of exceptional individuals hang on the walls of the University of Oxford. These pictures celebrate stories from our past, make visible our values and ambitions for the future, and help to shape the present living and working environment for staff, students, and visitors. And over the last nine centuries, Oxford’s walls have become home to many portraits of pioneering men and women – some well-known, and some now almost forgotten – whose achievements and images challenged the stereotypes and exclusions of their times and in some cases continue to do so today.

Oxford University has announced the full list of sitters and artists taking part in its Diversifying Portraiture initiative, which aims to broaden the range of people represented around the University.

Film and television director Ken Loach, BBC journalist Reeta Chakrabarti, eminent astrophysicist Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, award-winning author Jeanette Winterson, and human rights activist Kumi Naidoo are among those sitting for portraits as Oxford seeks to reflect and promote its increasing diversity and inclusivity.

Portraits – mostly paintings and photographs – will include a mixture of men and women and will feature people with disabilities, people from minority ethnic backgrounds, and people from LGBTQ+ communities.

The project, funded by the Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Fund, has already catalogued existing paintings from around the University that highlight the range of pioneering figures whose achievements over the centuries have challenged the stereotypes of their time.

The newly commissioned works will feature in the University’s central public spaces and will add to Oxford’s rich collection of college and University portraits. Sitters were selected from over a hundred nominations of people with a connect to Oxford.

The new portraits will be shown at an exhibition later this year. For information, follow us on twitter.com/DivOxPortraits