Records of Oxford Gallery

Scope and Content

Audited accounts and Directors' annual reports 1969-2002, Stock records 1968-2000, a little correspondence with artists, including with Lucie Rie back to 1973, newsletters and press releases publicising the gallery, memorabilia and press cuttings, and files on the final exhibition in 2000 and the closing of the gallery, including a short history published in Crafts magazine.

Administrative / Biographical History

There is a short history of Oxford Gallery in file OXG/7. The gallery was established in 1968 at No.23 High Street, Oxford, by Joan Crossley-Holland and Valerie Stewart, who left the Bear Lane Gallery to attempt to support craftsmen-artists such as Lucie Rie. It was established as a limited company through sales of £56,000-worth of shares, the first directors including Brian Lloyd, Ethel Fasal, Priscilla Bain and Ruth Lutyens.

Joan Crossley-Holland (1912-2005) ran the Gallery until 1986, and was made MBE in 1983 for 'services to the arts'. Amanda Game in her obituary in The Independent (20 January 2005) writes 'The 187 exhibitions that were mounted during her reign are astonishing in their breadth as well as depth. Supporting young artists from the outset, she gave early shows to makers of the calibre of Gordon Baldwin and Wendy Ramshaw. A roll-call of influential figures in contemporary craft featured in the intensive month-on-month exhibition programme: in the field of textiles we find Peter Collingwood, Constance Howard, Theo Moorman; in the field of jewellery Wendy Ramshaw was joined by the young Caroline Broadhead, Jacqueline Mina and Susanna Heron. Jacqueline Poncelet, Sutton Taylor and Julian Stair all had important early shows here in the 1970s and 1980s and Joanna Constantinidis was a regular feature of the programme. Printmaking, a significant strength of the gallery, was enriched through close involvement with the Bradford Print Biennale in the 1970s and early 1980s. The gallery's portfolio of artists in this sphere was truly international with Japanese woodcuts by Tsugumi Ota and American screenprints by Jim Dine sitting alongside etchings by Anthony Gross and the great Stanley Hayter. Hayter, whose work at Atelier 17 in Paris had set him alongside many of the greatest figures in 20th-century art, opted to have his 80th-birthday show at Oxford Gallery.' Other significant exhibitions were Philip Eglin's first solo show, Richard Batterham's sixtieth Birthday show and Breon O'Casey's last solo jewellery show.

It was the only Craft Gallery which showed Fine Art of the same quality as the Applied Art. As well as the print collection, it showed painters such as Patrick Heron, Terry Frost, John Hoyland and Roger Hilton. Several public collections have work bought from Oxford Gallery.

Joan Crossley-Holland was succeeded as Managing Director of the Gallery by Peter Shahbenderian in 1986, but he resigned after only a year, and the Gallery was then run by the team which had come together under his directorship, each responsible for a particular section of the stock. Valerie Stewart, the new Managing Director, oversaw jewellery and metalwork, Deborah Elliott prints, Lindsey Hoole ceramics and Kristina Mason textiles, glass and wood. Dr Brian Lloyd continued as Chairman until his retirement in 1997.

In 1993, Valerie Stewart and Lindsey Hoole stepped back from day-to-day involvement in the gallery, Kristina Mason taking over as Managing Director. Both remained active Directors until the Gallery closed, and Valerie Stewart became Chairman in 1997.

Michelle Bowen came to the Gallery in 1995 and became a Director in 1996. The team helping to run the Gallery also included Kathryn Chamberlain, 1993-1995, Diana Naumann, 1993-1999, Tess Cockburn, 1995-1999, and Merlin Brooke-Little, 1999-2001. Deborah Elliott was Managing Director 1994-1999, and Michelle Bowen was the last Managing Director.

The Gallery closed in February 2001, having been left somewhat stranded by changes to the city's traffic system and threatened by rent increases.


  • OXG/1 Audited accounts and Directors' annual reports 1969-2002
  • OXG/2 Stock books 1968-1987
  • OXG/3 Artist record cards 1987-2000
  • OXG/4 Correspondence with artists
  • OXG/5 Newsletters and press releases 1987-2000
  • OXG/6 Memorabilia and press cuttings 1985-2001
  • OXG/7 Closing of the Gallery 2000-2001

Access Information

The archival material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Shirley Dixon, Crafts Study Centre Archivist, May 2020.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


None expected.


Article on Oxford Gallery by Vicky Ambery-Smith in The Goldsmiths' Review (Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths), 1999

Short history of the Gallery in Crafts , March/April 2001, pp.64-65

Short history of the Gallery and reminiscences in catalogue Oxford Pioneers , 2018