Now situated in Clocktower Court, the Sewell Centre Gallery was re-opened in Spring 2014 by Old Radleian Sandy Nairne, former Director of the National Portrait Gallery.
This stunning, purpose built gallery is a well known exhibiting space in Oxfordshire and further afield. The gallery hosts six contemporary art shows a year and is open to Radley pupils, the College community and the general public. It aims to support local, up and coming artists and bring nationally and internationally established artists to this area. Over the last few years the gallery has exhibited work by well known artists such as Tracey Emin, Bridget Riley, Eduardo Paolozzi, Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon and Alan Davie. Most importantly the gallery is a valuable educational resource in keeping with the liberal aesthetic founding vision of Radley College. It plays a vital role in keeping the visual arts well and truly at the heart of College life.
The Winter Show. Exhibiting from November 11th to December 11th. Open Daily 10am -5pm.
This year’s Winter Show sees the coming together of three very distinctive artists. East Anglian potter Angela Mellor will be exhibiting alongside North Oxford painter Marie Boyle and East Oxford artist Jonathan Shapley.
Marie Boyle was born in France and studied painting in Paris and England. A member of the Oxford Art Society and the Penwith Society of Artists in St Ives, Marie is interested in shapes, colours and texture. Her focus is on still life in the style of William Scott and Giorgio Morandi, but her inspiration is drawn from memory rather than observation. Growing up in house full of ancient artefacts (her father was a passionate archaeologist) she says that she loves primitive art for its ‘simple eloquence’. The Japanese "Wabi Sabi" philosophy,with its appreciation of the beauty in imperfection, plays a major role in Boyle’s practice. She is a firm believer that ‘the layers, the rhythm, the accident and the suggestion, all have their place. Each picture should become a visual poem.’ As a child, her ambition was ‘to discover a new colour, never seen before’ and this ambition lives on today in Boyle’s painting.
In contrast Ely based potter Angela Mellor is compelled to work with porcelain and bone china paperclay. The opportunity to do research in Tasmania in 1997 led to her creating a type of paperclay. ‘By exploring its whiteness and translucency I was able to articulate my fascination with the distinctive qualities of light found there, being so close to the Antartic.’ Further work and travel in the bright sunlight of Western Australia made a great impact on her work and recent years have seen Mellor collaborating with lighting engineers to research the translucency of bone china.This collaboration has resulted is several series including ‘Coastal Light’, ‘Spray’ and ‘Sculptural Light’- now on display in the Sewell Centre Gallery. These pieces have been hand built using bone china paperclay and are inspired by observations of nature and particularly exotic flora and fauna.
East Oxford artist Jonathan Shapley employs a variety of media including photography and paint applied to a range of supports, normally two-dimensional, and including canvas, board and aluminium. Shapley’s work is informed by sociological and political concerns and arises from an urban setting. Shapley says that ‘Recent work has been concerned with public (or semi-public) spaces, how we use them, how we are allowed to use them and the appropriation of such spaces. This in turn has led to questions reflecting on the way in which public spaces might reflect our political and economic situations, and how we (users of spaces) accept or tolerate the conditions that are put upon us if we wish to use them.’
Previous Sewell Centre Gallery Exhibitions
Judith Ernsting - Landscapes (September 30th to October 12th)
Judith Ernsting works from observational drawings and responds to the juxtaposition of shapes and forms manipulating the textures and surfaces of the materials chosen. An exhibition of paint, pastels and collage.
Walter Lindner (9th to 22nd September 2017)
Local gallerist and archivist Simon Hearnden helped us showcase the wonderful monotypes of former Berlin artist Walter Lindner (1936-2007). Walter Lindner left a wonderful legacy of beautiful, masterful and distinctive artworks that have only recently surfaced, thanks to Simon.
'A Different Take' (22nd April to 18th May 2017)
An exhibition of sculptures by Alison Berman, a sculptor who works with a wide variety of materials from paper and clay to reclaimed exhaust pipes.
'The Writing on the Wall: a Homage to Hemingway' (25th February to 28th March 2017)
An exhibition that is inspired by Oxfordshire artist George Fox’s travels through the cultural centres of Europe.
'British Abstract' (20th January to 9th February 2017)
An exhibition of post war painting by prominent British artists living and working in St Ives and Penwith, West Cornwall in the 1950s and 60s. Deriving their inspiration from reality and most notably from the landscape surrounding them.
'The Winter Exhibition of Contemporary British Art' (11th November to 13th December 2016)
A mixed media exhibition of work by modern and contemporary British artists.
'Sense of Place' (8th to 21st October 2016)
An exhibition of drawings and prints by Jeanette Barnes RA who was also commissioned to draw Radley Chapel.
'The Colour of Place' by Jon Rowland (10th to 30th September 2016)
An exhibition featuring the work of Oxford based abstract painter Jon Rowland whose work is inspired by the colour of place.
'Hopes, Dreams: statements of intent explored' by Letter Exchange (the society of lettering artists)
16th April to 13th May 2016
An exhibition of works by members of Letters Exchange.
Responsive Eye Revisited (15th January to 11th February 2016)
The Sewell Centre Gallery Responsive Eye Revisited exhibition featured 22 works of art and including many of the original artists shown at MOMA in 1965. A rare opportunity to see work by Bridget Riley, Antonio Asis, Francois Morelett, Peter Sedgley, Alberto Biasi and others.
With Op-Art’s place so firmly established in the canon of 20th-century avant-garde movements, it is hard to imagine today the ambivalence that met the opening of MOMA's 1965 show, THE RESPONSIVE EYE. It attracted more than 180,000 visitors from all walks of life and was heralded as “one of the most exciting artistic events in a decade”.
Radley parent, Jeremy Wiltshire loaned the Sewell Centre Gallery this body of work because of the huge educational value of making important art accessible to Radley students. Exhibiting work by world renowned artists such as Tracey Emin and Bridget Riley has enormous relevance to contemporary art history and stimulates invaluable discourse and debate.
February to March 2014:
The Oxford Art Society Members' Exhibition, organised by Judy Harris, Exhibitions Organiser for the Oxford Art Society, opened in the Sewell Centre Gallery during February 2014. The Private View was officially opened by Andrew Nairne, director of Kettle's Yard, Cambridge and son of the late Sir Patrick Nairne, a long-serving Radley Council member.
Andrew spoke about his father's work, a collection of his watercolours featured in the exhibition, and his belief in the importance of the visual arts. Sir Patrick opened the original Sewell Gallery in 1979, so it seems fitting to exhibit his work in the first year of the new Sewell Centre Gallery.
Musical entertainment was provided by 6.1 pianist,William Dodd.