A CHALLENGE by the Ashmolean Museum for people to create art inspired by their experiences of the coronavirus pandemic has seen scores of entries reflecting shared feelings of isolation, anxiety and hope.

The Ashmolean – the oldest public museum in the world – has teamed up with our sister paper The Oxford Times to launch a competition to find the best artistic response to the pandemic, with the winning pieces set to go on display at the Beaumont Street institution.

The Artists in Residence competition invites us all to show our creativity in artistic reflections on a situation which has affected everyone and every aspect of our lives.

Responses might reflect on the experience of lockdown and being at home, things that people miss or look forward to when ‘normal’ life resumes, or sources of inspiration and hope during the difficult circumstances that we are all facing.

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Entrants can submit any type of visual artwork, from painting, drawing or printmaking, to computer aided design, textiles, photography, sculpture, decorative arts, and performance and film.

Shortlisted works of art will also be displayed on the Ashmolean’s website and the runners-up and winners in each category will be shown at a special exhibition on the museum’s forecourt when the Ashmolean reopens.

Entries are invited from UK-based participants and will be judged in three age categories: under 11, ages 11-17, and 18 and over.

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Work will be judged by a panel consisting of Tim Hughes, Features Editor of The Oxford Times; Dr Janina Ramirez, cultural historian, broadcaster and Course Director at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education; Dr Kamal Mahtani, GP and Deputy Directory of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Oxford University; and Dr Xa Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean.

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Dr Sturgis said: “We’ve been absolutely delighted with the competition entries we’ve received so far – from paintings and drawings to computer-generated art and performance pieces.

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“People are responding to the difficult situation we find ourselves in with extraordinary creativity. Artists are reflecting on the bravery of our key workers; things they’re missing, and what they’re looking forward to in the future.

“I can’t wait to see what people come up with over the coming months.”

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Dr Ramirez has presented popular TV shows on art and history, and has written acclaimed histories The Private Lives of the Saints and Julian of Norwich.

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She said: “I’ve always been struck by how moments of greatest change, drama or destruction tend to bring about the most fascinating transformations in art.

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Art is the way humans scratch their existence onto time and record unique, yet shared, stories.

Find details on how to enter the competition at ashmolean.org