This past year the JCR Art Society has been working on projects to diversify portraiture in College, as well as many students representing Merton’s creativity to all of Oxford by taking on artistic roles within our wider Oxford community.
Following on from the discussion we hosted on ‘Diversifying the portrait’ in the summer of 2019, this year we worked on changing the portraits hanging in the JCR. Our very own former artist in residence, Rebecca Fortnum, kindly donated three artworks to the JCR which now hang on the walls of our common room to preside over events from BOPs to JCR committee meetings. These three portraits are of female Junior Research Fellows who study and work at Merton. We hope greatly that this small gesture will help to celebrate the role of women in both the wider academic world and in our own Merton community, for there is still a long way to go until we see equality in academia.
Sadly, due to the coronavirus outbreak many of our plans for Trinity term had to be cancelled or postponed. The greatest shame is that we were unable to host our annual Mertonbury concert – the much-anticipated highlight of Arts Week. We had planned to combine our resources with the JCR entertainment representatives to make this the greatest one yet; however, I have no doubt that next year’s will be even better for the wait. Being unable to celebrate Arts Week together, we instead sent out art supplies directly to members of the JCR so that they could get creative from home. Though this is no substitute for celebrating creativity together, I am very excited to see what our students come up with. Some students have already shown me what they have done, and I hope that in the future we might be able to host a small exhibition in the JCR displaying the art that these students managed to create in lockdown.
Next year, we very much look forward to being back together and continuing our project of commissioning more diverse art to hang around College. We have some exciting new projects in the pipeline, and I anticipate this will be another fantastic year for the Art Society. We also can’t wait to be reunited with everyone in the Merton community, and greatly hope the lack of a Trinity this year will make next term even bigger and better for the Art Society.
Ellen Sharman (2017)
JCR Art Society Representative 2018-20