The Chapel at Somerville College will open a unique exhibition of the work of the College’s first artist-in-residence, Patrice Moor, on 9 October on view until 3 December. Moor’s latest work, ‘Many Hands’, is a piece inspired by the egalitarian nature of Somerville College, made up of 15 portraits.
Moor painted a cross-section of Somervillian hands – from Somerville’s students, Librarian and Principal to the gardener, chef and even a four-year-old boy attending Somerville’s nursery – all painted with oil and pencil on 18×14” linen.
‘I was drawn to Somerville because of its history as a pioneering women’s college and the inspiration of the ethos of the College and the opportunity to spend time in an environment that has nurtured so many illustrious and clever women. Their motivations, commitment and strength were a huge attraction,’ says Patrice.
‘Each image evokes these sets of questions. Unnerving in their minimalist palette and provokingly sketch-like contrast of painted surface and pencil line, the images each tell a moving story of commitment, fellowship and community; a timeless story of public work and private commitments that contrasts young enthusiasm with mature reflection,’ commented Art Historian and Somervillian, Fiona Gatty (History,1981).
‘A mélange of pragmatism, enthusiasm, elegance, thoughtfulness and poise are reflected in the character of these images that both capture Somerville’s history of commitment to women’s education and integrate the masculine presences of its current and future community. Moor’s simplicity of tone and unifying use of plain white background brings these different personalities together into a cohesive portrait of a multi-faceted space. Together they are a celebration of the open-minded democratic nature of the institution, and a moving tribute to the sense of fellowship and community at Somerville College,’ she continued.
Moor was born in Luxembourg and grew up in Brussels, Bonn and The Hague. Her time at Somerville College marks her fourth residency after working at the British Optical Association Museum, the Royal College of Physicians and the Botanic Garden, University of Oxford. She was initially destined for a career in Law, but as she was about to start an MA at the London School of Economics after the birth of twins, she began to document the different stages of her children’s lives in oils. This was the beginning of a new career, spanning 20 years, with numerous exhibitions both here in the UK and on the continent. “La condition humaine”, our unique bodily and emotional experiences and our mortality are the subjects of Moor’s works.
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