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Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) Workshop Programme

Workshops at Cheney Secondary School
Cheney Secondary School GCSE workshop
Workshops at St Barnabas Primary School
The technologies of ancient paint making
Drawing in the Mathematics Common Room
Planet making workshop
St Andrew
St Andrew
Drawing workshop

Over 500 participants attended the ROQ programme of workshops, delivered by Modus Operandi in October 2014. The events offered a wide range of opportunities to draw, paint and create in the unique setting of the Mathematical Institute, located in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter.


The workshop programme aimed to engage participants with the concepts behind Simon Periton's commissions for ROQ with a focus on his Alchemical Tree sculpture, due to be installed in 2015, coupled with the opportunity to work with inspiring natural and metallic art materials.


Following a series of artist-led workshops in primary and secondary schools across Oxford, the weekend programme launched with a one-day workshop of cross-curricular activity bringing together Ruskin School of Art and Mathematics students under the expert guidance of artists Simon Periton and Nabil Ali, and Professor Sam Howison (Head of the Mathematics Department).


The subsequent Family drop-in activities across the first weekend of the half-term holidays opened up the quarter and provided new opportunities for the public to experience and create artwork in the Mathematical Institute. Activities included paint making demonstrations and workshops with Nabil Ali with natural materials, grown in the artist’s garden, and drawing and planet making activities with Vicky Vergou


Part-way through the day Vicky led a group of families to the Mathematics students’ Common Room, where participants of all ages got busy drawing on the tables and windows with designs inspired by the Alchemical Tree and the architecture of the Radcliffe Observatory. Some incredible imagery was produced and the creative buzz was hugely uplifting! 


Special thanks goes to Sarah Mayhew Craddock for her fantastic promotion and coordination of the weekend activities and to Leah Lazar for her invaluable coordination and volunteer recruitment support. Finally to our wonderful team of volunteers who gave so much time and energy over the long weekend.


Poppy Muir (Project Manager)


Comments from participants testify to the success of the programme:


“It was really special to use materials from nature. They were all new to me.” Student at Ruskin School of Art


"It was really enjoyable to do something creative that wasn't Maths" Maths student


"Our boy here never normally draws at home whereas my daughter loves it but he's really getting into it here. Maybe it's because of the unusual materials provided." Mum of two children


"It's great to have a mix of activities that are more than just art. They're art and science in a closely combined way." Parent


"I especially liked mixing my own paint. This is the first time I've ever used natural paint." Boy aged 7


"We're going to do this at home - do drawings on our windows of what we see outdoors." Family


"It's been fun to draw on the windows and tables." "It's naughty but good!" Parent and son c. 12


"It was great to make your own paint, and I really liked that they were all eco as I'm really keen on nature." Girl aged 13


"Fun, great fun", "Excellent", "Brilliant" three boys aged c.10-11


"They absolutely loved getting hands on. We came all the way from Stratford-upon-Avon" Parent



The workshops were supported by the Pye Charitable Settlement with sponsorship support from Faber-Castell who contributed workshop materials.


The programme was Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.



Simon Periton


Mathematical Institute, Oxford OX2 6AD



Image credit

GCSE Students' workshop Cheney Secondary School. Image ©Edmund Blok