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Christ Church College Oxford – Tom Tower – Original Painting


Christ Church College, Oxford – Tom Tower – An original painting by Cathy Read.

Created in England in 2021. The painting is 56cm high by 76 cm wide. The painting includes a certificate of authenticity.

Framing – The painting is sold framed  in a white frame with double mount off white and dark grey. Images are for guidance only.

Care: Display under glass. Keep painting away from moisture, heat and bright lights or direct sunlight.

All copyrights are retained by the artist, and the artwork cannot be reproduced without consent from Cathy Read.

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Christ Church College, Oxford – Tom Tower – Original Painting

About the Image: 

Christ Church college, Oxford is iconic.  It’s Tom Tower is well-known to anyone who has spent any time in Christ Church, Oxford. It is virtually impossible to miss this sentinel standing guard at St Aldates – the entrance to Christ Church college.

9 pm Christ Church, Oxford Time

On a first Oxford visit, you may notice an oddity.  You will hear a bell chiming 101 times at five past nine; marking 9 pm Oxford time.  The 5-minute discrepancy is a relic dating back to before 1848 when most towns had their own time.  These variances were ironed out when Railway Time was officially adopted and aligned with Greenwich Time.

Why does it ring at this odd time? Traditionally, it summoned the 101 students back to college before the gates closed, so they wouldn’t waste their evenings in revelry and mix among the proletariat.

You can see a hint of the blue clock dial at the central arch window apex. The massive statue looks on as Christ Church College displays its opulent status as one of Oxford’s most beautiful colleges, due to wonderful architecture, educating 13 British Prime Ministers and serving as a Harry Potter filming location.

These ancient buildings’ ostentatious appearance is breathtaking. The bell tower was designed by Cardinal Wolsey in 1532 who liked to display his power through extravagant building projects.  When he fell from power the building had to hold its breath for 150 years for Sir Christopher Wren who completed the unfinished work.  Wren made a case for working in the late Gothic styles “to agree with the Founders work”. Arguably, it is too much. The eyes flit from detail to detail easily distracted from intense focus. Details may be missing, but would you even notice?

Visual overwhelm is a real issue, especially when looking at overtly decorated edifices. Can you imagine its reception when first built? And this is only one of 50 plus Oxford colleges that exhibit architecture ranging from medieval to contemporary. Oxford certainly wears its wealth on its shirtsleeve – and never more so than Tom Tower.

Demanding Christ Church

At this angle, Tom Tower’s distinctive shape is lost – yet the sense of awe remains. Golden stonework catches brilliant sunlight. A light casts dark shadows, defining the elegant carving and sheer opulence born of centuries of noble – or more recently, ignoble – scholars.  The arrival of the comprehensive student to such hallowed halls is worthy of note and thankfully, now possible.  For any student, it is no mean feat, for Oxford demands high standards of its students.

As we leave, the colour-drenched stonework, leaded windows, and curling carved details stand ready to intimidate the next intake of eager young students embarking on university life for the first time.

Christ Church College, Oxford – Tom Tower – Original Painting by Cathy Read.

How it was created.
An initial pencil drawing onto watercolour paper was created. These lines were then drawn over using masking fluid. Next, they were painted using watercolour paint and acrylic ink. Several layers of paint were built up. Salt was also used in the process and some of the ink blown around using a straw. Once the painting was dry the masking fluid was removed to reveal the finished painting.


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