Reflections of Oxford

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July of 2015 has found us fortunate enough to be spending some weeks in the university town of Oxford.

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My latest ‘pop up’ studio here has been a quiet contrast to the buzz and excitement of painting in London at Graham Fine Art.

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As with London, the River Thames is the foundation of Oxford and its meanderings has shaped and molded its identity over the centuries. The University of Oxford Botanic Gardens which I visited last week run along the banks of River Cherwell.

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I put down my paintbrushes for a few hours to take up a boating invite with local Oxford jewelry artist Tess Blenkinsop, painter Francesca Shakespeare and her husband Christopher who expertly piloted our little punt.

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The Thames as it courses through Oxford is called the River Isis, referring to the Latin name for the river: Tamesis.

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Clearly on evenings like this the river is suitable for a Goddess…. gorgeous light and shadows which make for amazing reflections.

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It was brief cruise through the long and rich history of Oxford.  We were immersed in a lush combination of ancient trees, vegetation and countless species of birds on this tributary of the River Isis, the River Cherwell.

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Inspiration abounds as we cruise along at a duck’s eye view, each round of a bend revealing magical compositions.

Caroline-Zimmermann-Reflections_1952 - Version 2Recollections of my previous paintings of the river Arno as it meanders through the Vald’arno near our home in Tuscany.

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Some unexpected delights as well, and the infrequent encounter with a punting traffic jam.

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Christopher navigates with skill and perfection as he dodges other punters, deftly avoiding a collision that would have crushed a duck and her goslings.

Caroline-Zimmermann-Reflections_2010Murphy and I look on with grave concern.

All fine, we continue and pause for a picnic on the shores of the River Cherwell.

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The highlight of the evening was a spontaneous visit to the Magdalen College and its cloisters…

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…walking the grounds I could just imagine how inspirational it was for Magdalen alums such as Oscar Wilde.

 

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“The Illumination” 2004 by Caroline Zimmermann

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“In the summer term Oxford teaches the exquisite art of idleness, one of the most important things that any University can teach, and possibly as the first-fruits of the dreaming in grey cloister and silent garden, which either makes or mars a man …”

Oscar Wilde, review of Primavera in the Pall Mall Gazette, 24 May 1890

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“Reflections of Tuscany” Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany 38” X 40” Oil on Canvas Lahaina Galleries

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My time in Oxford has been productive and full of inspiration… all feeding into my latest water, cloud and sky paintings. Truly its as Yeats states in this quote:

“I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking.” William Butler Yeats, in a letter to to Katharine Tynan

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