Oxford University announces winners of design-a-gargoyle competition

On 14 December 2007 Wantage MP and Shadow Arts Minister, Ed Vaizey, will present certificates to the winners of the ‘Millennium Myths and Monsters’ competition to design a gargoyle. Nine children, aged between 11-14, are expected to attend the prize-giving ceremony in the Divinity School at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

As well as receiving a certificate, the winners will also have their design interpreted by a stonemason and transformed into a real gargoyle by Autumn 2008. The nine new gargoyles, which will be based on their drawings, will grace the northwest face of the famous 17th century Bodleian Library for years to come.

The winners are:

George O’Connor (11 years old) from Oxford for ‘Dodo’

Hannah Duckworth (12 years old) from Oxford for ‘Green man’

Henry Chadwick (12 years old) from Oxford for ‘Three men in a boat’

Eva Masmanian (13 years old) from Oxford for ‘Tweedledum and Tweedledee’

Ben Bryant (13 years old) from Abingdon for ‘Wild Boar’

Alfie Turner (13 years old) from Longworth for ‘Sir Thomas Bodley’

Hayley Williams (14 years old) from Abingdon for ‘Aslan the Lion’

Kerrie Chambers (14 years old) from Bicester for ‘General Pitt Rivers’

Alex Sermon (14 years old) from Abingdon for ‘Tolkien’

The competition was launched to find ideas based on one of three themes – myths, monsters or people that have a historical connection with Oxfordshire within the last millennium. The University needs to replace the original gargoyles because they are extensively damaged and there are no historical records of what they once looked like. The competition judges were sculptor Martin Jennings; Director of Oxford Preservation Trust, Debbie Dance; Bodley’s Librarian, Dr Sarah Thomas; and Oxford University Head of Building Conservation, Isobel Hughes.

Sculptor Martin Jennings, whose statue of poet John Betjeman was recently unveiled at St Pancras station, London, said: ‘ I look forward to hearing about how the children and the stonemason work together in making their designs a reality. The richness and breadth of the designs was a delight to see. Children have such vivid imaginations and are a marvellous source for inspired ideas.’

Director of the Oxford Preservation Trust, Debbie Dance, said: ‘This competition was a wonderful idea as it encouraged children to look above the shops and see the great variety of historic gargoyles that stare down at them.’

The Head of Oxford University Building Conservation, Isobel Hughes, said: ‘We had nearly 500 entries from across Oxfordshire. We had difficult decisions to make and we would have loved to have awarded more of the children with prizes, but the nine we selected were chosen because they managed to interpret the theme of ‘Millennium Myths and Monsters’ brilliantly.’

Bodley’s Librarian Dr Sarah Thomas said: ‘I loved the creativity of the children’s work and the book themes particularly resonate with me.’

Members of the media are welcome at the prize giving ceremony, where there will be an opportunity to photograph and interview the competition winners. Sculptor Martin Jennings and Head of Building Conservation Isobel Hughes will also be available for interview. If you wish to attend, please report to the Proscolium at the entrance of the Divinity School, behind the Sheldonian Theatre, Broad St, Oxford at 12.15pm. There will be 30 minutes for interviews and photographs starting at 12.30pm. Filming is allowed at the prize-giving ceremony (between 1.15pm-1.45pm).  

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Oxford University Press Office on 01865 280534 or press.office@admin.ox.ac.uk

Notes for Editors

* Martin Jennings set up his sculpture studio in Oxford UK in 1984. Working in stone, slate, marble and bronze, he has fulfilled numerous commissions for bronze portraits, figure and abstract sculptures, lettering inscriptions and monuments.  In November 2007 his statue of poet John Betjeman was unveiled at London's St.Pancras International station. He has also modelled a bronze portrait of ex-Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and in 1998 he made a bust of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother to celebrate her 100th birthday.