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Paul Nash Exhibition: Oxford Festival of the Arts

Paul Nash at Cowley Dump Tate mmvjjy

Paul Nash sketching in Cowley, 1940-41.© Tate

The city is buzzing with Oxford Festival of the Arts exhibitions and this weekend we have something rather exceptional to add to it; a new exhibition by the acclaimed British surrealist artist Paul Nash (1889 -1946) which focuses on his time in Oxford.

‘We know of Paul Nash’s writings just before the war in 1913, when he was thinking of creating a series of lithographs and prints of Oxford Colleges and gardens: ‘What a chance to reveal something of that wonderful place Oxford, the poetry of it’. We might not be showing the ‘poetry’ of our city in this particular exhibition – as things changed with the outbreak of the war just after Paul Nash’s wrote this – but what a privilege it is, for us, as the city’s festival of arts, to have worked with a number of people and institutions from across the country, in collaboration with the Pembroke College JCR Art Collection, to bring the work of Paul Nash, to Oxford, showing his links to our city!’ (Dr Michelle Castelletti, Director, Oxford Festival of the Arts)

Land, Sea, and Sky draws on the holdings of the Ashmolean Museum, the Tate archives, Queen’s College, Oxford, Worcester College, Oxford, and a number of private collections, to bring the work of renowned British surrealist painter and war artist Paul Nash to Oxford, shedding light on the Oxfordshire locations that inspired his work, and the Oxonian women who supported him.

This project is in collaboration with a team of curators, writers, researchers and art historians from across the country, including Christopher Baines, Jan Cox, Myroslava Hartmond, David Boyd Haycock, Ian Holgate, Peter Vass, and, the director of Oxford Festival of the Arts, Michelle Castelletti, in collaboration with Pembroke College JCR Art Collection.

The exhibition will be contextualised further with a programme of free weekly talks, and even a film documentary from the BFI – Out of Chaos, by acclaimed documentary director, Jill Craigie – one of Britain’s earliest female documentary makers, and her enlightening account of the role of art in WWII in something of a filmic mural. The last talk will be on June 9 at 6pm in the Pichette Auditorium at Pembroke College – a conversation between journalist, bestselling author and art critic, Will Gompertz (the BBC’s first Art Editor) and Oxford-based writer, creative consultant, and curator, Myroslava Hartmond - early booking is advised. Will Gompertz will be familiar to many through his documentaries for BBC One and Two, and shows on Radio 2, Radio 4, and BBC 5-Live, as well as publications for leading publishers, newspapers, and magazines. He is the Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, a post he took up in January 2024 to provide the strategic leadership of one of the world’s most exceptional and admired house museums. He has been Artistic Director of the Barbican Arts Centre and a Director of the Tate Galleries. 

I’m delighted at the continuous flow of people to all our exhibitions so far; and I am very much looking forward to our most significant exhibition to date - a Paul Nash retrospective of his time in Oxford, particularly in this current world political climate.  It is also one of those times when many individuals and institutions come together to create something great - and this is what Magdalen College School works to achieve with its partnerships.  We are proud to create access to the arts via our festival.  (Helen Pike, Master, Magdalen College School – Founder & Lead Sponsor of the Festival)

Land, Sea, and Sky is open during the following times: Thursdays and Fridays, 4pm - 7pm and Weekends, 11am - 4pm. The exhibition will also be open for half an hour before and after each of the events linked to the exhibition - further details and tickets to all free Paul Nash events are on the website.


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The city is buzzing with Oxford Festival of the Arts exhibitions and this weekend we have something rather exceptional to add to it; a new exhibition by the acclaimed British surrealist artist Paul Nash (1889 -1946) which focuses on his time in Oxford.

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