Commissioned artworks in the building have been chosen to complement the architecture, which offers a light, quiet and spacious ambience. Much of the new art is intended to reflect the theme of migration and identity, a Faculty research theme. Vibrant portraits of Distinguished Visiting Professors in the Humanities, George Steiner and Stuart Hall also adorn the walls.
The ceramic work, installed on floor one of the ArtsTwo building, is by London-based artist Nick Arroyave-Portela. Part of a body of work entitled 'Todo Sobre Mi Padre' ('All About My Father'), which Arroyave-Portela describes as "a rhythmic and contemplative series of wall pieces looking at all aspects of my identity".
The image refer specifically to his Spanish father’s various migration routes during his life, and the impact this had on Arroyave-Portela's sense of belonging growing up in Oxford. The work also looks at the question of memory, migration and identity from a universal point of view.
Arroyave-Portela says: "This body of work is more than a tribute to my father and his memory. It is really about my re-connection and understanding of what a sense of place means to me."
Oxford-born artist, Arroyave- Portela's work is on public display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and the Leeds City Gallery, among others. His large-framed ceramic wall pieces explore his identity through the genres of landscape and cartography.
The pair of vast wall tapestries, which now hang in ArtsTwo, are the first UK commissions for internationally-acclaimed Dutch artist, Claudy Jongstra.
Claudy Jongstra and five members of her studio worked on the two bespoke tapestries for the ground-floor foyer. Her work combines fabrics in wool, mixed with silk, linen and organza to produce refined textures. Using her skills as a colourist, Jongstra chose a strong yellow tone in both tapestries, using the traditional dye plant, weld to contrast, yet complement, the vivid purple floor in ArtsTwo. Natural colours from St John’s wort and onion, which gives an orange hue, were also used. The horizontal tapestry, designed as a lively, expressive landscape, is the longest that the Jongstra studio has made as one piece. Both wall hangings use wool from two old sheep breeds, the long haired Drenthe Heath combined with the Gotlands pels, felted together with silk and linen fibres. Felting, carding and spinning are traditional yarn-making techniques used in the ArtsTwo commissions. For commissions and enquiries contact Jongstra's UK representative, willer.co.uk
Jongstra is best known for her tapestries and textile wall-pieces. In her work she stimulates natural heritage and cultural heritage by innovating old technical crafts in new contemporary art pieces. She has transformed felt, industrializing the process while keeping the textile's handmade feel. She runs her own garden with only traditional European dyeing plants to design new colours. Jongstra also breeds her own rare breed Drenthe Heath sheep. The preservation and application of the old techniques of carding and spinning to make yarn is important to Jongstra's work. As a result she has won several prizes for the use of sustainable and innovative materials.
Work by Hackney-based artist Zoe Benbow is already on display in the Lock-Keeper's Cottage on the College's Mile End campus. 'Mayo Landscape' was especially commissioned for ArtsTwo and is based on drawings made from the cliff tops of the coastal landscape of County Mayo, Ireland.
The painting plays with colour and process to wilfully hook the audience into an unfamiliar space. The image is celebratory in nature and aims to communicate a sense of awe and enjoyment in our visual world.
"Reference is made to European landscape genre, as a construct to examine established perceptions of our place in the world. Traditional perspective is subverted to create a taut and finely balanced image that plays across the picture surface," says Benbow.
Zoe is a professional artist based in London, with a painting studio close to Broadway Market, E8. Benbow graduated with an MA from The Royal College of Art in 1989. She had a solo show at Hay Hill Gallery, Cork Street, W1 in February 2012 and is represented in many public and private collections including Manchester City Art Gallery, The British Council and The Royal Palace of Jordan.