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Interior of Bishop Edward King Chapel with long wooden pews, on landscape cover of 'Custodians', by Ashmolean Museum.


By (author) Joanna Vestey
By (author) Russell Roberts
By (author) Alexander Sturgis


  • The first book of its kind; a unique opportunity to view many inaccessible places in Oxford
  • Includes many previously unpublished images, including pictures of the new RIBA nominated chapel at Ripon College
Full Description

Custodians brings together for the first time, in this beautifully compiled collection, images of many of Oxford’s most prestigious buildings along with some rarely seen, but wonderful venues and their ‘Custodians’. Photographer Joanna Vestey set out to explore the extraordinary colleges and buildings of Oxford, behind the closed doors, often beyond the reach of the 9.5 million visitors a year who come here, and to meet the ‘Custodians’ playing a pivotal role in perpetuating these world renowned institutions. Rarely do we get to catch a glimpse behind the closed facades of these iconic structures and to see the spaces that lie within. All the images have been captured in the University City of Oxford, known as the “City of Dreaming Spires” and show its extraordinary breadth of architecture since the arrival of the Saxons. It includes venues such as the 17th Century Divinity School, the mid-18th century Radcliffe Camera continuing through to the most recent award winning RIBA nominated chapel at Ripon College completed last year. Venues such as the Sheldonian Theatre and Christchurch College sit alongside perhaps lesser known venues such as The Real Tennis Courts or the John Martyr Pawsons cricket pavilion portraying the breadth and diversity constituting the city. The ‘Custodians’ and their surroundings enjoy equal status in Joanna’s formal compositions; they seem to belong together, yet do not fuse into one, thereby asking us to question how we are all largely shaped and influenced by the structures around us – how defined we are by them and how much they form us. Full of unexpected venues beautifully photographed, this book will appeal to the his-torian, city visitor, people interested in architecture and interiors as well as to the extensive alumni network of the colleges themselves. It will also appeal to an audience interested in contemporary photography.

About the Author

Joanna Vestey is an award winning photographer based in Oxford. Her work has been widely commissioned, published and exhibited both in the UK and abroad and is held by several collections including 5 images recently acquired by the National Portrait Gallery. By the same author: Joanna Vestey: Faces of Exploration: Encounters with 50 Extraordinary Pioneers. Dr Alexander Sturgis is the new Director of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. Dr Sturgis has had a distinguished career as the Director of the Holburne Museum, Bath, since 2005 and previously held various posts over 15 years at the National Gallery, London, including Exhibitions and Programmes Curator from 1999 2005. Russell Roberts is a curator and writer. He studied for his BA and later MA in London while working for the Victoria & Albert Museum. He was Head of Photography at the National Museum for Photography, Film & TV between 1998 and 2006. He has worked on over 50 national and international curatorial projects most notably In Visible Light (1997); Specimens & Marvels (2000); Unknown Pleasures (2003); A Gentle Madness (2004); Hidden Country and English Anxietie (2009); The Silent Village (2010) and Without Words (2011).

Ashmolean Museum
3rd Aug 2015
USA & Canada
9.09 in x 11.22 in
96 Pages
63 color, 1 b&w
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