Oxford Art Society

We are deeply saddened to share the news of Patricia Drew’s recent death (June 2024). Patricia was a beloved artist and long-standing member of Oxford Art Society.

“Creativity takes courage”

Henri Matisse

Welcome to the Oxford Art Society. Formed in 1891 at the instigation of Oxford watercolourist Walter Tyrwhitt who wished to encourage Art in the City and in the University, it exists to promote local artists by providing the opportunity to exhibit in and around Oxford and to be part of a supportive artistic community. The first president was Hubert von Herkomer RA who had succeeded John Ruskin as the Slade Professor of Fine Art in Oxford. The Society has a long tradition of outstanding members in its history, including Henry Lamb, Paul Nash and the Carlines, and of our current 250 members we have artists who have shown work in the Royal Academy, the Mall Galleries and the National Portrait Gallery. 

We have enjoyed a long relationship with the City of Oxford and the University, showing in the Ashmolean for 40 years until the 1970s, holding our centenary exhibition in Modern Art Oxford, and exhibiting for some years at SJE Arts and more recently at the Kendrew Barn, St John’s College.

The Society has held an exhibition every year since it was founded except for six years during World War II. Since 1972 the Society has held two exhibitions each year – a Members’ Exhibition and an Open Exhibition. It is from the artists showing in the Open Exhibition that new members are invited to join the Society.

Our Members’ Exhibition takes place in the spring; our Open Exhibitions take place in the Autumn. When the Society was first established the latter was designed to coincide with the end of the sketching season. 10 years ago we introduced a Young Artist Competition as part of the Open Exhibition to encourage artists between the ages of 18 and 30 who live within the Oxford area.

We are a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation and any funds raised from entry fees to exhibitions and subscriptions are used to cover the costs of publicity, printing and venue hire. We are committed to supporting local charities and young people trying to make their way in the art world. We are also connected to the Oxford Art Society Associates who we endeavour to support in any way we can. The Oxford Art Society is run by a committee of volunteers many of whom are artist members.

Art is not a trifling pursuit, or at all intended for mere amusement’

-Oxford Times 1910