July of 2015 has found us fortunate enough to be spending some weeks in the university town of Oxford.
My latest ‘pop up’ studio here has been a quiet contrast to the buzz and excitement of painting in London at Graham Fine Art.
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.
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.
The Thames as it courses through Oxford is called the River Isis, referring to the Latin name for the river: Tamesis.
Inspiration abounds as we cruise along at a duck’s eye view, each round of a bend revealing magical compositions.
Recollections of my previous paintings of the river Arno as it meanders through the Vald’arno near our home in Tuscany.
Some unexpected delights as well, and the infrequent encounter with a punting traffic jam.
Christopher navigates with skill and perfection as he dodges other punters, deftly avoiding a collision that would have crushed a duck and her goslings.
Murphy and I look on with grave concern.
All fine, we continue and pause for a picnic on the shores of the River Cherwell.
The highlight of the evening was a spontaneous visit to the Magdalen College and its cloisters…
…walking the grounds I could just imagine how inspirational it was for Magdalen alums such as Oscar Wilde.
“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 …”
“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