The star of this show was the building itself. As one visitor to the recent Oxford International Art Fair put it; “you don’t need the art!” Lovers of minimalism would gag at the ornamentation, but whatever your personal taste you’ve got to love the exuberance of the Victorians who threw everything at this building – and then added some.
Dark oak panelling in the corridors is intricately carved and embellished with symbolic crests and ancient mottos, before being hung with large original oils and soft watercolours of local scenes donated by worthy Oxfordians from ages past. Light streams in, filtered yellow, red and blue, from ornate stained glass windows, with decorative iron swirls of metalwork standing proud.
And in the main hall, angels dance amongst the filigree and lace white plaster mould sprinkled like icing sugar on the Wedgewood blue walls. As we say these days, it is completely OTT, but what a tribute to the opulence of the 1900’s and what a contrast to our recent austerity.
Fairs are tiring. Standing all day, handing out leaflets, promoting your gallery and meeting new customers. But this venue made it exceptional. If one ever had enough, one just gazed skyward and wondered at the magnificence above!