Oxford Photography Festival

Ian Whiting

The Oxford Photography Festival runs from 14th September to the 5th October. In addition to a number of one off lectures and films there are print exhibitions spread out over 22 buildings across Oxford, most of them within walking distance of each other around the city centre. Some buildings house more than one exhibition

Many of the exhibitions are by award winning photographers from around the world. Most are based around a theme and consistent with the photographer’s style.

All exhibitions are free to enter and most have around 30 prints displayed.

My wife and I spent the day in Oxford, arriving at our first gallery at 9.30am and started flagging around 3.30pm. In that time we only managed to get to 8 of the 22 buildings seeing 10 photographers’ work. A second day would be needed to see the rest of the exhibitions that I would like to visit.

I can recommend visiting these exhibitions while you have the chance. You might not like all of the curators’ choices but that is part of the experience of the wider world of photography.

If it helps this is how we planned our day to maximise the visit…

We had considered the Bedford to Oxford bus, the 2 hour journey runs every 30 minutes and those with a bus pass can travel for free after 9.30pm, but in the end we drove, leaving at 7.15am. We parked at Pear Tree Park and Ride (£2) and caught the 10 minute P&R bus (number 300) to Oxford (bus passes work here.)

To visit the first three exhibition buildings (1,2 and 3 on the festival map) on the north side of the town get off the P&R bus at the Canterbury Road stop. Walk up Canterbury Road, cross over Banbury Road and walk up to the top of Park Town for Studio 45.  This is a pleasant walk in the sunshine. Lady Margaret Hall and Maison Fancaise are nearby.

Studio 45 - Drew Gardner and Joanna Vestey

Studio 45 – Drew Gardner and Joanna Vestey

Lady Margaret Hall, Richard Davis

Lady Margaret Hall, Richard Davis

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxfam

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxfam

Mason Francaise, Bernard Plossu

Maison Francaise, Bernard Plossu

Wadham College

Wadham College

Story Museum

Story Museum

 Of the exhibitions we visited my opinions are…

Very good

Studio 45, Lady Margaret Hall, Maths Institute (mono portraits and a good choice for lunch), Wadham College (only went into the Deceive exhibition, skipped the Scotland PDIs)


Old Fire Station, Story Museum (inside an old bank vault complete with solid door)


Maison Francaise (mono prints by Bernard Plossu which did not do a lot for me)

I would love to have seen the Art Jericho exhibition of Maise Maud Broadhead’s modern images in Dutch Old Master’s format (e.g. Vermeer.) Although supposed to be open was closed and we could only peer in through the shop window.


Research your day using the web sites below, a better map and event newspaper can be picked up from most of the exhibitions.
Many buildings are open 7 days/week but some have restrictions (check the web site for open days and times.)
Lady Margaret Hall had no poster outside to help you find the right entrance, ask at the Porter’s Lodge.
Art Jericho is tucked away in a back street one block after the OU Press building.

Web Links

A detailed listing PDF of the exhibitions from www.photographyoxford.co.uk/press.html
A good street map of Oxford town centre can be useful, print one from Google Maps

 Some good examples from the exhibitions…

Photos and video about Drew Gardner’s The Descendants series, being shown at Studio 45…
http://www.drewgardner.com/The-Descendants/4/caption/  (you can scroll through his images by clicking right)