Public art programme | University of Oxford

Public art programme

"Art has a key role to play in creating the new Quarter, forming the backbone of its future cultural life and linking it with the wider city."

Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford

The University of Oxford has an excellent track record as a patron of the Arts, including commissioning art for new buildings and refurbishment schemes, as well as allocating funding for artists-in-residence, exhibitions and research projects.

The University is committed to continuing these activities and the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) is an example of this commitment. The development has created the opportunity for the University to invite artists to contribute their unique vision and skills to a project 
of international significance.

Oxford City Council’s planning guidance stipulates that public art should be commissioned as part of all new capital investment schemes ‘in the interests of visual amenity’. Consequently, there is an obligation on the University to procure a public art strategy for the ROQ site.

Modus Operandi are independent arts consultants with a track record of curating and producing art of the highest quality. They were commissioned to develop a public art strategy and programme for the ROQ which would create:

  • opportunities for collaborations between artists, architects and landscape architects
  • permanent integrated art to enhance the site
  • a programme of temporary interventions, artists’ residencies and interdisciplinary research projects
  • the context for individual art programmes for the new and refurbished buildings on the site.

On Wednesday 27 February 2013 the Vice-Chancellor and Director of the Tate Galleries, Sir Nicholas Serota, announced the launch of Tracing Venus – the public art strategy and programme for the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter – and the appointment of internationally renowned artist Simon Periton as site-wide artist.

Managed and curated by Modus Operandi, the public art programme is intended to benefit the local community and facilitate public access to the ROQ site. It will encourage public enjoyment of the ROQ, and the involvement of local residents as well as students, academics and other University staff.