jam factory2 jam factory3I could say that the fourth excursion was back to the Cézanne exhibition as I returned to enjoy his art with my three children where they became quite animated in their discussions. But that felt like cheating so this month I visited The Jam Factory in Oxford to take pot luck in what was being exhibited. There are so many layers of pleasure here from interesting art to quirky décor to the story behind the building as this was where Frank Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade was made until production moved away in 1967. It is now a café, a meeting place and an art venue. As I wandered around, a group of mums with young babies gathered for coffee looking very NCTish which sent me down my own nostalgic path. But on with the art…

jam factory7

Wait ’til it settles by Sarah Craddock

jam factory6

Wait ’til it settles by Sarah Craddock

There were three exhibitions being held and my favourite was ‘Inspired by the Canal’. It is an exhibition of children’s art, professional artists and art from the community using Oxford’s canal as their inspiration. Starting in Banbury, the canal to Oxford wanders through Wolvercote ending quietly at busy Hythe Bridge Street in Oxford and is a secret byway waiting to be explored. I enjoyed the children’s boats, the hilarious tea cosies, the excellent etchings and found the contemporary installation thought-provoking.

Sarah Craddock had bottled and ‘packaged’ canal water from different spots that had witnessed stories – a birth, a drowning, an attack, a draining. The labels on the water provide a tantalising hint to the history and stories that the canal could tell. If the containers were not in an art gallery they would look like rubbish but their situation makes you think deeper and harder about water and the canal. As the water in the containers settles the good rises to the top and yet the history and sediment is also there to be acknowledged. Allowing situations to settle helps you to see things clearer and to extract the good from a situation. Even our English language alludes to what water teaches, “Don’t muddy the waters”.

jam factory5

Tea cosies inspired by canal boats

jam factory8

Etchings by Caroline Maas

The Canal Exhibition is only on until the 27 April 2014 but there is always something interesting to see and do at The Jam Factory – ‘Anyone for scrabble?’jam factory4jam factory1

About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley
February – Oxford School of Photography
March – The Ashmolean: Cézanne and the modern

 

Advertisements