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Max Bridson Jones © Benedict Ramos

Young Art Oxford: 'The World We Live In'

A year ago, Brexit hadn’t happened, and nobody would really have believed that Donald Trump could become President. This year, it could be argued that the world we live in is a rather different place

"I decided to do a piece on elephants being poached in Africa, because it is often in the news. I drew a distressed looking elephant with grey chalk. I then dripped different coloured inks down the page to represent elephants dying out and fading away from the world."

Young Art Oxford is a children's art exhibition that takes place every May at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. This year is a particularly exciting year as it's their tenth anniversary. The first Young Art Oxford exhibition was held in 2008, based upon the model set up in London in 1988. Since then, around £90,000 has been raised for Cancer Research UK and the number of Oxfordshire schools participating has risen from 16 to 48. The collective is hoping to raise a good amount of money this year, and bring the total donated so far to Cancer Research UK to over £100,000.

This year is also of higher relevance than usual as their theme is 'The World We Live In'. When they decided on the theme a year ago, Brexit hadn’t happened, and nobody would really have believed that Donald Trump could become President of the United States. This year, it could be argued that the world we live in is a rather different place. The entries that will go on show at the Ashmolean will give an interesting insight into how Oxfordshire's schoolchildren (between the ages of 4 and 13) are thinking in 2017, what concerns and preoccupations they have and how they feel about politics.

Gracie Cowley © Benedict Ramos  'My picture is about the animals under the sea. My favourite is the sea horse with purple and a yellow tip. My coral is very rocky with lots of small fish'.


The judges this year are Korky Paul, Helen Cooper, Sarah Simblet and Clova Stuart-Hamilton, and they’ve had a very tough job deciding who the prize-winners should be and what should go on show at the Ashmolean.

 It is clear from studying some of this year’s entries, that the children’s outlook becomes broader and more cynical as they grow older. Many of the images in the Reception to Year 2 category show animals, houses, the natural world and sea creatures. Those in years 3 to 4 also focus on things like their dogs, trees and landscapes, but then there’s also a car sitting on top of a dissolving globe, and a polar bear on a shrinking ice island.

 By the time the children have entered Years 5 and 6, their political awareness is clearly growing, with their year groups’ work consisting of a painting of a tombstone which reads: ‘A Child of Syria R.I.P.’ on it. Then there are pictures of rubbish trucks, Trump himself and an elephant being shot. Flowers, trees and a lovely, happy market scene are all present, but the tone is darkening. In the final year group (Years 7 to 9), there is still optimism (like an umbrella covered with national flags and sheltering a crowd of people) but the impression given is that the world is an uncertain place where a turtle cannot co-exist in the ocean with a Tesco bag, and the elephants are steadily fading away.

This is a just a small snapshot of the treats in store at the Ashmolean between Thursday 4th May and Saturday 6th May. There is no charge for entry but any donations for Cancer Research UK will be most welcome.


Top Image – Max Bridson Jones

Middle – Ella Warren

Bottom – Gracie Cowley

Images © Benedict Ramos


Related articles: The Oxford Printmakers | Facing The Shadows