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Public Art in Oxford

By Peter Baird

We are naturally proud of the year-round public access we provide to striking examples of sculpture and beautiful flora (and some fauna!). Our changing exhibitions present some of the best locally produced art, as well as works of renowned artists from further afield, in a pleasant and often spectacular setting. The fact that it is free to enter the Turrill, makes us one of the few places in Oxfordshire you can see high-quality sculpture, year-round without dipping your hand in your pocket.

However, Oxford is actually rich in public art, with an amazing array of pieces in open spaces, or sometimes in off-the-beaten-track corners. You just have to keep your eyes open.

Here is our list of five of the best-known pieces of art in Oxford – all promoted by the City Council in their commitment to enhancing the city and its environment.


The Headington Shark – by John Buckley – New High St, Headington – Needs little in by way of introduction..

2. “Another Time XI”, by Anthony Gormley (Angel of the North) – The sculpture of a man on the roof of Exeter College.

3. “Books” – by Diana Bell – Bonn Square – A gift to Oxford from twinned city


4. “Story Book Tree” – by Matt Cave - Bury Knowle Park – Features characters from Oxford authors, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

5. “The Ox” – by Olivia Musgrave – Oxford Railway Station – Commissioned by The Said Business School to commemorate its opening in 2001.

There are plenty more examples dotted around the city, like the “View through the window”, by Timothy Shutter, in Elizabeth Jennings Way, Summertown, “Meadow Gardens”, by Suzanne O’ Driscoll, in Jacksons Road, N. Oxford and the Modern Gargoyles, by Alec Peever at the Bodleian Library.

Enjoy Oxford with all of its wonderful public art, and be sure to include The Turrill Sculpture Garden in your plans!

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