John Newberry: Recording Oxford

John Newberry returns to The North Wall this summer with Recording Oxford, an extensive collection of small watercolours painted between 1982-1995. Although Oxford’s skyline has since been transformed, the views of the St Giles Fair, Oxford’s colleges, cobbled streets and river walks remain unchanged.

Born in 1934, at school in Bath, John did National Service and studied Architecture at Cambridge when Leslie Martin was Professor. After three years he transferred to read Fine Art at Newcastle under Lawrence Gowing and Victor Pasmore.

John came to Oxford in 1962 to teach part-time at the Ruskin School of Drawing. He also worked at Sanders where he prepared annual exhibitions of English drawings and watercolours for Kyril Bonfiglioli (part-owner, art dealer and comic mystery writer). There John was able to study ‘ in the hand ‘ a large range of watercolours. Other than that he was untaught in the medium – it was not a subject in art schools. His own watercolour exhibitions at Sanders became annual events and this is a chance to see some of those works.

When Fine Art became a degree and the Ruskin moved from the Ashmolean to the High Street, John became full-time with a post at Brasenose College. From 1987-1989, he was the Ruskin’s Acting Master. John retired in 1989 and lives with his partner, the composer Bryan Kelly, in Somerset. John was made a full member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1995.

Exhibition Opening

Wed 31 May 2023 6-8pm
Please join us to welcome in this new exhibition.
Free event / no booking required

In Conversation: Bernard Richards and Ian Davis 

Tue 6 June 2023 2.30-4pm
Free event / book tickets here

A talk about the life and paintings of John Newberry.

Bernard Richards was the Fellow in English  Literature  at Brasenose College, Oxford from 1972 to 1996. He is now an  Emeritus Fellow.  His speciality is  Victorian Literature and Art. His English Poetry of  the Victorian Period (Longman, 2001) is  one of  the standard works on the subject. He has edited Henry James’s  The Spoils of  Poynton and The Princess Casamassima.   He has lectured on Victorian Art, especially Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites, and is  currently writing a book in which he identifies for the first time many of  the places sketched by Turner.

Ian Davis trained as an architect and worked in the USA, Canada and the UK.  He was part of the team at Chamberlin, Powell and Bon when they designed the Barbican Arts Centre in the late 1960’s. He then taught for twenty years in the School of Architecture, Oxford Polytechnic, (now Oxford Brookes University).  Ian enjoys using pen and ink and watercolour to draw or paint architecture and landscapes. In 2020 he wrote: ‘Experiencing Oxford’,  illustrated with over a hundred of his paintings of the city and its setting. He is deeply envious of the skills of John Newberry in conveying the rich character of Oxford and its sublime architecture in evocative paintings.




Looking to explore the visual arts? Find venues on Visual Arts Oxford.



“Whenever he paints a city one is familiar with he defamiliarises it - makes one look at it again, to discover new beauties, new angles. His work has been described as 'photographic', and some of his scenes remind one of what can be achieved with some of the more outré lenses, except that when one tried to reproduce them with a camera one discovers that it can't be done.”

Bernard Richards, Emeritus Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford

John Newberry: Recording Oxford


Free entry

Extra information

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Closed: Sun and Bank Holidays

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