This year, we’ve hosted 83 Meetups, around a third of which were created exclusively either by or for Oxford Arts Group, but rather than waffle on about our highs and occasional lows, I’ve chosen to post some photos (with a little commentary). Please feel free to add your thoughts and a very happy new year to you all!
Emily, Laura and Olivia, three members of Fairydust Arts, who’ve provided us with a fair amount of entertainment during the year, as well as some invaluable support (and youthful energy) at the discos.
Julie, Charo and Emma, arts group stalwarts, having mini Glastonbury style-fun at The Elder Stubbs festival in August. We all have to grow old some time, but in the Arts Group, you don’t even have to grow up!
We can do Glastonbury when the mood takes us. This year, we commandeered a corner of University Parks for ‘Park Live!’ Picnic and performance, in which the good, the bad and the Ottolenghi were served up free for all.One of the best events of 2014 was our preview of Masie Maud Broadhead’s exhibition for PHOTOGRAPHY OXFORD 2014, curated by Jenny Blyth of Art Jericho gallery (centre) who also (sup)plied us with wine. Jenny’s depth of knowledge and passion for her subject just transshhmitted itself completely dahling…
And speaking of photography, here’s a favourite portrait of 2014, taken by the talented Filo Nave, who’s become our unofficial photographer at most events’. Filo’s responsible for most of the ‘good’ photos on this page. and this one features group member Kim, taken at the Art Jericho exhibition.
Having seen, heard and otherwise absorbed the stuff, sooner or later it was inevitable we would ‘become’ the art, and Sobia Abbas’ ‘Connection Manual’ exercises, designed to break down the distance between people in public spaces, allowed us to just that. We took lots of shots of folks resting their heads on each other’s shoulders and going dewey-eyed, but here’s one of Jill, Agnieszka, Agnieszka’s friend and Georg, monkeying around before it got all ‘physical’.
Following Park Live!, seasoned travellers Julie and Paul, organised a highly successful international quiz afternoon and treasure hunt in Jericho with a sizeable arts group presence. It was fun and we’re certainly good with ‘fun’. (But can you market it?)
Sunday afternoon with nothing to do? How about a visit to The Albion Beatnik? Oxford’s finest performers served up on a plate c/o Oxford Arts Group? Step this way! Plenty of room inside, especially with all the ‘No Shows’ (chortle). Below, you can see Ian Trinder and Josie Webb (from ‘Telling the bees’) making sweet music during ‘A blaze of Autumn Sunshine’.
And here’s Dennis, the enigma behind the Albion Beatnik, contemplating which jazz or poetry legend to call next on the ‘beatphone’. Dennis sold his soul to the beelzebub in 120 AD, and is never allowed to leave the Albion Beatnik (except to pop across the road to the Co-op for milk) but his purgatory is our pleasure.
We thought there were a few good live acts who weren’t getting enough coverage – or money, despite being regulars on the circuit, so we experimented with our own music club at The White House on Abingdon Road. Nice idea, good gigs, but midweek was a tough sell. The idea hasn’t been completely abandoned, and we’ll be back with something similar but different next year. Meanwhile, here’s The Andy Kennedy Quartet blowing up a storm:
Highbrow? – Just count the wrinkles baby! Here’s a sneaky pic of the Ashmolean’s Halloween Live Friday event which we attended en masse in October, featuring a sublime performance of Handel by, erm, somebody very talented, and a brief glimpse of the ridiculous number of people trying to cram themselves inside.
…And trips to not entirely convincing Cotswold contemporary gallery previews (free wine helps – hint.)
Not to forget protest art! (The placard reads ‘Stop wars based on religion’ by the way.) And the man with the message is the extraordinary Dorothy Margaret Tiddlywinks (who seemed to annoy a lot of group members with his guest DJ-ing this summer). The bearded one hosts ‘The Dot Slot’ on Destiny 105 FM, on which he was devil-may-care enough to let me talk about Meetup and the Arts Group for an hour one Monday night (when everybody was asleep).
And lest I resist temptation, here are my absolute favourite arts group memories of 2014, occasioned by the one, the only, the greatest, Oxford ‘Arthouse Disco’….scheduled for a Dr Who-style regeneration next year as the ‘ChART Show disco’ (Gerrrit?) Let’s hope this one flies in time and space.