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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Streatfield

People of Oxford Rd


'People of Oxford Road Reading'

is a community engagement project that maps the shifting identity of the residents of

Oxford Road and the surrounding area.

I will run 12 workshops as an art club for children, young people, families and multi ethnic communities:

-6 workshops at Oxford Road Primary School for 15, 8 - 11 year olds - specifically for SEN and ESL

-6 Workshops at Life Spring Church for 20 people including families, vulnerable adults, inclusive of minorities.

I will paint 5 lifesize portraits of shop keepers on Oxford Road. These participants will be invited based on their historic link with the wider Reading community, and representative of the Reading High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ). This includes the unique multicultural characters who have a story to share about the local area.

The portraits created during the workshops will be presented in an exhibition alongside my 5 portraits as part of two month-long public exhibitions at The Central Library and Battle Library, Reading.

I will promote the project as part of the ‘Historical Open day’ at Life Spring Church and have a pop-up shop for the recipe book and project.

By working with new people in the community, this project will expand my practice, develop my network and widen participation of arts provision in the heritage area of the Oxford Rd.

My practice is responsive to context and communities and it is really important for me to create a sense of sharing stories and building social ties. The success of my work comes from conversations with people and their hidden backgrounds, I like to value the everyday stories of people around us that may be overlooked or underrepresented in society, by giving them a voice.I believe art can be experience by everyone through workshops and exhibitions, championing diverse people in our communities ensure there is a legacy for this knowledge.

I have been an active member of the local community and taught at many colleges in Reading, but this is the first time that I am combining my personal artistic practice alongside my teaching skills. By introducing this into my practice I feel that I can build a deeper connection with my community, which will strengthen the quality and content of my work. This would give me time and space to demonstrate a contemporary reflection on local economic and social issues.

. The Portraits I paint will be of a generation of immigrants representing: Afro Caribbean (windrush), Indian/Asian, Eastern European, Jewish and English. This will also connect to their friends , families and extended network reaching a spectrum of communities.

The exhibitions will reach audiences who are shopping locally, across two busy libraries, connecting to wider communities across reading, including: students, unemployed, elderly, those who have social mobility, people who don't have access to their own computer, those seeking employment and participants in classes/education.

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