If you’re heading up to our dining hall this week, you’ll notice some brand-new portraits adorning the walls of our famous spiral staircase.
The 15 new pictures celebrate the breadth and diversity of our college community, including students, staff and academics from many different walks of life. The aim of the exhibition, organised by third-year English student Fenella Sentance, was to bring the stories of these individuals into the heart of the college and celebrate the various things they contribute to our community. “The process of organising the gallery ended up demonstrating lots of the things I was hoping it would show and advocate,” says Fenella, adding that “the willingness with which staff members and students extended their enthusiasm says a lot about the sense of community you can find here at Hertford.”
The criteria for inclusion in the gallery was broad in the hope that it would reflect the many strands of our community and celebrate stories not always in the mainstream. Fenella explains that “we didn’t want to pretend that Oxford is an easy place to be if you’re a member of any kind of minority, but what we did want to bring out were the inventive and inspiring ways that women, people of colour, LGBT+, disabled, and working-class people at Oxford figure out how to thrive here.”
Following in the footsteps of our co-education and Tanner Scheme portrait displays in 2014 and 2015, this new exhibition was conceived as part of Hertford Equalities Week, organised by Fenella in her role as JCR Equalities Representative last week. The week’s events also included a panel discussion on equality in the arts and a talk from the organisers of the Uncomfortable Oxford tours, highlighting the University’s colonial legacy.
The portraits will remain on display until the end of the year and were shot by Ebrubaoghene Ayovunefe, an English student at The Queen’s College. You can download the accompanying exhibition catalogue below to read our sitters’ compelling stories.