Uncomfortable Scavenger Hunt
Cowley Road: Location 1
"Horns of Plenty" mural on Stockmore Street
From the Ballroom Emporium (OX4 1AS) to East Avenue (OX4 1XW)
Welcome to the bustling streets of the Cowley Road!
Cowley Road's Street and Community Art
Magdalen Bridge sometimes acts as the symbolical and physical link between two distinct parts of Oxford: the international University and Oxford's intrinsically global local community.
The pavement of Cowley Road is a testament to this diversity. But a distinct feature of the last few decades has been the increase in community-led art projects - which you see dotted along various buildings, walls, and even the pavement below your feet.
View of the Rewley Station Swingbridge from the Sheepwash Channel.
One of the first (very small) features is Fusion Art's Pavement Jewellery project, a series of 58 bronze circle ingots embedded directly in the pavement along the Cowley Road. Installed in 2005, the ingots create dialogue between members of the local community, old and new, through personal and shared stories of East Oxford.
Each ingot has a pair, creating a puzzle for onlookers. The project was curated by artist Liam Curtin, and supported by Fusion Arts, an Oxford-based charity that has been established in East Oxford since 1977.
Challenge: How many can you find on this walk?
One of the many bronze ingots that are scattered along the Cowley Raod.
Another high profile project by Fusion Art is the Cowley Road Carnival, born in 2000 as a neighbourhood regeneration project - by 2005 it attracted over 25,000 participants.
In 2017, a whole Carnival weekend was launched, with funding to support several projects including new street art murals.
David Attenborough Mural behind the East Oxford Game Hall on Collins Street
As you stroll down the Cowley Road, make sure to peer into the side streets and try to find some of its iconic paintings:
At the corner of Stockmore street, the 'Horns of Plenty' mural by artist Andrew Mason was made to commemorate the local street music band's 10th anniversary, and their participation in the Carnival.
On Leopold Street: the floating Radcliffe Camera, opposite the exit of Princes street, offers a subversive view on the symbol of the University of Oxford.
During the 2020 pandemic, artist Andrew Mason designed two more murals: a huge portrait of Sir David Attenborough on the side of East Oxford Games Hall, and another painting of 'Mother Nature' leading to the neighbourhood's South Parks.
"Mother Nature" on Union Street
A short video, 'Reves One' gives you some insights into the many murals of Oxford's streets.
In 2020, the Carnival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, schools projects had already started, which will be in the procession 2021. Check out the amazing online resources developed by the charity for schools and people isolating at home.
With friends or family? Discuss the following:
East Oxford has historically been home to a large Afro-Caribbean and South Asian diaspora, more recently incorporating East Asian, Chinese, and African communities into its fold.
How does this compare to the traditional image of Oxford?
In what way does public art impact how people engage with a neighbourhood?
How do you think this neighbourhood will change in the future?
Answer this question supplied from a local community member:
Students often call this area Cowley, whereas local residents refer to it as East Oxford.
Why do you think students and the local community have different names for the same place, and what can it tell us about the relationship between the university and the city?
Want to see all the medallions?
Check out this page by Fusion Arts
Fusion Arts has put together a Flickr page with every single medallion - Check it out!
And watch the short documentary: "Bronze Eyes"
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