The Notebook

'Imagination will take you everywhere'

Freedom of Expression

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Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, recently played host to ‘Free Speech Oxford’, a day of debating to mark World Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January). The public speaking event took place in Christ Church college in collaboration with the Institute of Archeology at Oxford University to remember a former lecturer, Paul Jacobsthal, who fled to Oxford from Germany to escape the Nazis, due to his Jewish heritage. The day was full of inspirational speeches from students (who came from a range of different backgrounds) to offer their opinions on freedom of speech and expression. In particular there were fascinating discussions on current controversial headline topics, such as press regulation and the ongoing uprising against dictatorships in the Middle East.

These steps were featured in the Harry Potter films - in Hogwarts!

These steps were featured in the Harry Potter films – in Hogwarts!

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After bestowing myself with the lovely title, ‘Art Coordinator’, I set about organising the art side of the day, with my partner in crime, Ellie (my twin sister). That is when we came up with the idea of staging an art exhibition displaying ‘Freedom of Expression’ with a mixture of our own artwork and some work from younger students. We then created and delivered a three-week art workshop to a class of year eight art students, the focus being expressing emotions but basically ‘let go and have fun’. The end result was a fantastic collection of portraits depicting various emotions (anger, happiness, guilt, excitement, etc) in bright, bold and abstract colours (think a mixture of Matisse and Picasso). I was very pleased with the outcome and the students were very proud of their work, aswell as being really excited at the prospect of having their art exhibited at Oxford University. Ellie and I also chose some of our own portraiture work to display so we were both excited too!

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Myself and Ellie showing off our exhibitionOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The year eight student’s artwork was bursting with vibrant colour

On the day of the event the exhibition was a huge success with many positive comments about the artwork – lots of people were impressed. Aswell as the amazing speeches we also got a tour around Merton college which was absolutely beautiful (if a little claustrophobic), I can never fail to be astounded by the intricate gothic architecture within Oxford, it’s definitely one of my favourite cities in the world - luckily it’s quite close to where I live so I love to spend a day shopping in the breath-taking city.

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Overall I really enjoyed the whole process of organising and creating the exhibition, which I found incredibly influential and fulfilling. I hope you enjoy my photos of the event…

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2 comments on “Freedom of Expression

  1. Rosalind
    February 11, 2013

    What an incredibly inspiring project you undertook. I can well imagine the level of preparation and the time involved in all the aspects of planning, delivering workshops and mounting the exhibition itself. The resulting art work looks amazing. I’m not surprised that it was a well-deserved massive success.

    • Jessie Williams
      February 14, 2013

      Thank you very much – I really appreciate your comment. It was hard work but well worth it in the end!

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