Renowned photographer Michael Kenna returned to his old art school to open a £3.4m Creative Arts Centre.
He said he never forgot his training at Banbury School of Arts, now Oxford & Cherwell Valley College.
He spoke as he opened the college’s new centre, home to 400 youngsters aged 14 and over.
He also launched a £500 annual prize for photography students.
The building has been formed from a former art block and has been given an open, modern, airy design, said creative arts curriculum manager Jackie Whitehouse.
She said: “We don’t have classrooms as such. We have very open spaces for students to use.”
The development is part of long-term college plans to move facilities from the north to the south side of Broughton Road.
Its next project – also part-funded by the Skills Funding Agency – will feature a TV studio for media students.