Exhibition of Student Art

A new exhibition is on view in the Supervision corridor in the Dorothy Garrod Building at Newnham, featuring seven artworks created by current members of Newnham’s JCR and MCR.

The exhibition, which continues into Lent term, highlights the breadth of creativity across the student community. All Newnham students were invited to participate in the exhibition, organised by Professor Judy Quinn and Dr Amy Tobin with the College’s Valuable Possessions Committee. It is intended that this will be the first of many similar exhibitions, as the Committee is keen to hear from any other students or societies wishing to display their artwork in College.

Inorganic material can only pretend to fly, 2022 – by Xin Xiong, BA Biological Natural Sciences (Genetics)                                                                                  

Xin Xiong’s work focuses on the interplay of permanence and transience, as exemplified by the contrasting images of a stone statue and a fleeting bird. The statue, grounded and immutable, embodies an aspiration to fly, eternally captured in heavy stone.

A bird, ephemeral and free, boasts in a fleeting dance, yet marred by the harsh reality of its urban survival. By juxtaposing the enduring stillness of the statue with the fragile vitality of the bird, she invites viewers to ponder the delicate balance between the enduring and the ephemeral, the lofty and the grounded.

Tame, 2021by Jialei Ding, PhD in Engineering

Ding explains her interest in art by saying, “I think art can still be art without any deeper meaning. I like making things that look cool and steadily getting better at it. For me, making art doesn’t need to do anything else’. She describes the work she has included in the exhibition as a “depiction of a lady with lasers and a leopard/cheetah, looking cool.”

Nothing but PRIDE, 2022by S. Arzooman Chowdhury, MPhil in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies

“My artworks are an intersection of nature, colour and all the positive vibes,” explains Chowdhury. “I prefer land and cityscapes on paper and fun comic strips on digital platforms. I believe pen, paper and colours have their dynamic way to express emotions and spread positivity. And, I’m all for it. Life is too short to be petty and mundane, let’s add some rainbow strokes to it.’’

She describes the work she has included in the exhibition saying, “This world would be a better place if there is less judgment and hatred, and more support and positivity. Do not be afraid, because you’re not going the wrong way, rather it’s simply a way of your own. Own it, celebrate it. Beings, who truly love you, you will always find them by your side.”

Portrait of Virginia Woolf, 2021by Olivia Houseman, PhD in English

“My indulgence in painting is determined by the flares and remissions of my arthritis,” explains Olivia Houseman. Each time I unpack my paintbrushes, I am unsure of how many days or weeks I will be afforded until my fingers begin to stiffen and how many months it will be afterwards until I can take up a paintbrush again.

“For these reasons, my paintings are usually small (A4 is my favourite) and I prioritise the pieces I intend as gifts. The original of this portrait was a gift for a professor whose Virginia Woolf module I adored during my undergraduate degree. The quotation in the foreground is taken from A Room of One’s Own, a text I return to ritualistically each September.”

Portrait of Kamala Sohonie, 2023 – by Nikita Jha, PhD in Education                                                                                            

Nikita Jha tells the story of the subject of her portrait: “Kamala Sohonie was an Indian biochemist and alumna of Newnham College. The first woman admitted to the prestigious Indian Institute of Sciences -for which she had to stage a sit-in. She was then invited to the University of Cambridge for a doctorate in Biochemistry. In 1939, she became the first Indian woman to receive a PhD in a scientific discipline, completing her degree in just 14 months.”

Section drawing for the proposal of the Museum of Architecture in Berlin, 2019by Beyza Celebi, PhD in Architecture

“This is a sectional drawing of a project proposed for the Berlin Architecture Museum competition,” says Beyza. “The design of the building was inspired by the anatomical shape of a heart, which allowed to create intimate spaces that are highly interconnected. The building hosts an exhibition area, a library and the centre is a public space where people can come in, walk, sit and relax in the semi-private areas.”

Melancholy’s Company, 2022 – by Iffat Mirza, PhD in Spanish

Iffat says her artistic interests “often reflect the perception of the self both from an individual and societal perspective. Being Pakistani-born and raised in the UK, much of these explorations stem from the idea of having dual personalities and the gaps that can remain between them.”

She describes her painting on display as “an exploration of melancholy as a force for vulnerability. The nude figure sits, hiding behind itself with the feminine figure’s head turned away and eyes closed. There is a necessary indulgence of melancholy itself whilst rejecting the theatrics of it.”

The artworks will be on display into Lent term.