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- Student Stories
Pembroke JCR Art Fund Collection Launch 70th Anniversary Exhibition and Catalogue
27th April 2017
The Trinity term exhibition at the Pembroke JCR Art Gallery signals a pivotal moment in the history of the Pembroke JCR Art Fund Collection. ‘Meaningful Vision: PMB JCR Art 1947-2017’ commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the JCR Art Fund, which was established by Antony Emery (History, 1947).
Emery arrived at Pembroke as a mature student in 1947 and persuaded his peers to contribute one pound per term to the Fund. Over his time at Pembroke Emery made significant purchases of artworks, under the advice of the renowned art historian and then Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford, Sir Kenneth Clark.
Early works acquired include notable British artists such as John Piper, Robert Colquhoun and Patrick Heron. In Meaningful Vision early pieces are displayed alongside more recent acquisitions, such as ‘Basketball Court’ by alumna of the Ruskin School of Art, Grace Thompson (2014).
Special guests spoke at the exhibition’s opening night on 24th April 2017, recalling their perception of the gallery during their time at Pembroke. Art historian, Jon Whiteley (Modern History, 1964), recalled the early acquisitions under Emery and said he benefited greatly from the system whereby students could temporarily acquire a work for display in their College room (a tradition that continues today).
Former Pembroke Fellow, Nico Mann, described his experience of collating an inventory of the collection in the 1970s. The controversial purchase in 1953 of Francis Bacon’s Man in the Chair and its later sale in the 1990s is a remarkable story, which was recalled by numerous speakers.
Attendees also had the pleasure of hearing from Patron of the JCR Art Fund, Lynne Henderson, who spoke about her work establishing a sense of continuity and stability in the JCR Art Committee in the 2000’s; developing an exhibition space in Broadgates Hall, which enabled students and the wider public to access the collection once again. She noted that in recent times the JCR Art Fund has gone from strength to strength, particularly since the foundation of a purpose built gallery and the appointment of Curator, Sarah Hegenbart, in 2014 .
PhD Candidate at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Will Atkin, reflected on the Surrealist influence in Britain and the values that drove Emery to curate a faithful representation of the ‘art of our time’ and provide students with an education in contemporary British art.
Artist collective, Cypher, also spoke at the event. The collective is comprised of artists Erin Hughes, Laslo von Dohnanyi, Amba Sayal-Bennett and Holly Graham, whose diverse practices are united by their shared interest in exploring notions of ‘assemblage’. This is evident through their works which are displayed in Meaningful Vision alongside the permanent collection.
This energetic display provides an opportunity to reflect on the history of the collection, as well as a chance to consider how artists are working today and prompts visitors to consider what the role of the JCR Art Fund Collection could be in the future.
The exhibition is accompanied by a special 70th Anniversary Catalogue, which includes contributions from guest speakers, archival information, and entries on major works authored by those within and beyond the Pembroke community.The exhibition, catalogue and opening event were curated and organised by Sarah Hegenbart (Curator of Art) and Meris Ryan-Goff (JCR Art Rep).
The gallery is open to the public 12-2pm Wednesdays and Fridays during Trinity Term and is located on 5 Brewer Street, OX1 1QN. The 70th anniversary catalogue is available to buy at the Gallery or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a purchase. Please visit their website for more information.
(Images by Daniel Kim)