New community gallery a platform area’s talent

The Oxford Times: Jennie Hopkins, left, and Sally Austin Picture: OX65294 Andrew Walmsley Buy this photo Jennie Hopkins, left, and Sally Austin Picture: OX65294 Andrew Walmsley

A COMMUNITY art gallery has sprung up to exhibit the work of West Oxford residents.

The new Botley Community Art Gallery is displaying 20 pieces of art throughout February at a shop in Elms Parade.

Work includes pottery, oil paintings, tapestries, watercolours, collages and sculptures.

The pop-up gallery is based in the headquarters of campaign group West Way Community Concern which was formed last year to combat plans to redevelop West Way.

It is the brainchild of Cumnor resident Jennie Hopkins, who is campaigning for a permanent gallery for residents to showcase their work.

The idea came during the Oxfordshire Artweeks in May last year which displayed local art in towns and villages across Oxfordshire.

Mrs Hopkins said: “There is a huge amount of talent in West Oxford and you never get to see their work because there is no way to display it.

“It has been wonderful to see the work up now, to see that vision which I have been carrying around in my head for a long time becoming a reality.”

She is campaigning to open up a permanent base at the empty Natwest premises in Elms Court.

The mum-of-three is setting up a Botley Community Art Gallery Committee for people to help set up the gallery.

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Mrs Hopkins is then planning to form a charity to run two studios from the shop.

Rent from the two studios would pay for bills to keep the gallery open, but she estimates £1,000 could be needed to start up the scheme and renovate the building.

She said: “I felt quite frustrated there was nowhere for people to exhibit their work.

“Then there was this empty space staring me in the face – it has been empty almost two years – and I had a bit of a light-bulb moment.”

Mrs Hopkins, a housewife, recently started sculpting lessons herself in Faringdon.

She added: “I came to it late in life quite suddenly. My children are all horrified because I’m doing heads of all of them.”

The artwork on show at the pop-up gallery has been made by residents and school pupils and covers one side of the shop.

s Anyone interested in the project can email Mrs Hopkins on jennie@talk21.com

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