An exhibition of photographs that chart the extraordinary changes that have taken place in order to convert Oxford Prison and Castle into a brand new heritage and leisure quarter will form the inaugural exhibition at the new O3 Gallery, right in the heart of Oxford Castle.
Throughout the transition and re-forming of the ancient site into a vibrant modern destination and hotel Jude Wall was commissioned by Oxford Castle Ltd. to document the process of change, whilst reflecting with an artist’s eye upon this. The resulting exhibition and publication is as much about aesthetics as it is about architecture. Within the images reside the memories or traces of an era long gone – a place of unimaginable hardship and cruelty, replaced now with smart restaurants and immaculately preserved heritage.
Jude Wall is a freelance photographer and lecturer with many years experience in both industry and academia. Having graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Editorial Photography, she went on to develop her own practice whilst teaching photography at various colleges and Universities. She has undertaken various projects and commissions, although the commission to photograph the Oxford site represents her largest commission to date.
Reflecting on the time she spent on site at the Castle, Jude commented ‘the first day on site five years ago I remember walking around alone – it was eerie and quite frightening. Now its lovely – beautifully done and it doesn’t ignore what it was.’ Throughout the commission Jude has been in the unique position of witnessing this historical transformation from the inside, given un-paralleled access to all areas of the site.
The exhibition marks a number of ‘firsts’ – the 03 Gallery opens for the first time with this show, which appropriately relates directly to the environs of Oxford Castle. The gallery has been developed by Oxford Castle and is presented in partnership with OVADA, Oxfordshire’s Visual Arts Development Agency. And that partnership is believed to be a first as well – the first partnership (possibly ever) between a public agency and private developer, to create a gallery that will generate opportunities and funding for the visual arts in Oxfordshire. Oxford Castle Chair Trevor Osborne is delighted with the new space, the last piece of the project to be completed. Trevor says “The O3 Gallery will fill a gap in the Oxford arts scene and it is fitting that the first exhibition is by a talented young photographer, evidencing through a discerning lens, the transformation of the Oxford Gaol to Oxford’s Castle of acclaim.”
For OVADA, who run the substantial public gallery at Gloucester Green, this new space represents an important part of the visual arts infrastructure in Oxford – according to Development Director Janine Charles its ‘the icing on the cake! This new space provides another piece in the jigsaw – a small but high quality selling space for art, right where we hope lots of people will be interested in buying it.’ All profits from the sale of works will go towards supporting the development of visual arts locally.