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Oxford Uni commissions portraitures to reflect diversity

PORTRAIT: Dr Patricia Daley, Professor of the Human Geography of Africa at Oxford University

OXFORD UNIVERSITY has announced the full list of 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 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 its commitment to inclusivity.

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

The project, funded by the Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Fund, previously 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.

BBC journalist Reeta Chakrabarti, who studied at Exeter College, Oxford, said: ‘I loved my time at Oxford. There weren’t – then – many people from my background at university there. But that didn’t stop my experience from being overwhelmingly good."

"I hope this project will show that Oxford is open to everyone, and that it wants to be more so. I hope too that it reflects present-day Oxford back at itself, and that it encourages an ever more diverse range of people to study there."

Novelist Diran Adebayo

Trudy Coe, Head of the Equality and Diversity Unit at Oxford University, said: "This project is so important because it highlights and celebrates the full range of diversity at Oxford across our alumni and staff."

"Many colleges have already commissioned new works of art celebrating female alumnae, and we hope that this project will encourage all our departments and colleges to think of ways to celebrate the full diversity of our staff and student body, as an inspiration to current and future students and staff."

The new portraits will be shown at an exhibition in Oxford later this year.

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