Day Trip: Modern Art Oxford & The Ashmolean Museum

Yesterday I travelled to Oxford for the day, hoping to experience some new and interesting exhibitions outside the London arts bubble. My main agenda for visiting Oxford was to see Jeremy Deller’s recently curated exhibition: Love is Enough at Modern Art Oxford, featuring the work of William Morris and Andy Warhol. I was also keen to visit the Ashmolean having read about the William Blake exhibition currently on display there, and admittedly having never been to the museum before.

Off the hour train out of London and first on my list was Modern Art Oxford, about a ten minute walk from the train station – I had no idea how small Oxford really was. Upon entering the gallery I was met with a loud clash of Warhol vs. Morris wallpaper tunnelling me into the reception area. Directed through the café and up the stairs by the pleasant woman at the front desk, I found myself immersed in a colourful world of pattern and print.

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Love is Enough is an unconventional exhibition to say the least. Frankly, when I first read about the show I felt it was a far stretch from the truth, perhaps a comparison of Deller’s desires rather than of genuine substance. However in actuality, I was happily corrected of my premature assumptions. The long floor of the upstairs galleries burst bright with facsimiles of Warhol and Morris wallpaper. I found Morris work upon Morris wallpaper, Warhol work upon Morris wallpaper, and it actually worked surprisingly well. Deller manages to present and examine several remarkable connections between the two artists, something made tricky considering they each come from different eras, let alone different sides of the world. Love is Enough brings comparisons between the two through their love of fantasy and mythology (Hollywood celebrities for Warhol, medieval literature for Morris), the importance of the studio or ‘the factory’ in both their practices, and through they’re shared interest in flowers and they’re decorative qualities.

This exhibition was a great highlight for me. I enjoyed it so much that I bought the catalogue, a brightly coloured book which promotes the newly created print of Warhol’s pop-print camouflage combined with Morris’s acanthus leaf wallpaper. It’s definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Oxford in the near future – don’t miss this iconic exhibition of two mammoth artists of the 19th and 20th centuries!

I must also mention my visit to the Ashmolean Museum. As I was short for time I was only able to visit the one exhibit there – William Blake: Apprentice & Master. This show introduced me to the history of Blake: his upbringing, his apprenticeship as an engraver, his role as painter and poet and his creations in the last years of his life. This exhibition is a golden treasure of Blake’s imaginative, passionate works. A particular highlight for me was seeing the complete set of plates from Blake’s work Europe: A Prophecy; these works are so delicately illustrated with beautiful attention to detail.

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Love is Enough is on at Modern Art Oxford until the 8 March 2015, and William Blake: Apprentice & Master is on at The Ashmolean Museum until 1 March 2015 – be sure to visit both before they end.

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