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.

The Diversifying Portraiture Project, funded by the Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Fund, is collecting and cataloguing existing pictures from around the university which portray some of these individuals. You can see some of them here or on Twitter.

For the second phase of the project, we are now planning to commission around 25 new portraits of living Oxonians, by different artists and in various media, which will be displayed together in an exhibition next year. The pictures will then join the existing range of portraits around Oxford.

These new works will not replace but add to the rich collection of college and University portraits, in a celebration of Oxford’s ongoing story of achievement and change.

More than one hundred individuals and groups have been nominated to feature in these portraits. Thank you for all your ideas: nominations are now closed, but watch this space for news.

Diversifying Portraiture at Oxford is a new initiative supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Fund, set up at the Equality and Diversity Unit by Trudy Coe and Dr Ruth Scobie. The project is now managed by Laura Miller. It aims to widen the range of people represented around the university, to reflect and encourage its increasing inclusivity, commissioning new portraits for its central public spaces. If you have any questions, please contact the project by emailing equality@admin.ox.ac.uk.