Changing faces exhibition

A series of inspirational new portraits has been commissioned to better reflect the diversity of today's Wadham community.

Photographer Michael Birt

“My daughter Cécile studied at Wadham, I journeyed regularly to see her over four years and I was always struck by its history, friendliness and beauty. It has been heartening to reengage with the College in a professional capacity. The commission to photograph sitters nominated by current students and Fellows was a real source of pleasure. Producing a series of portraits that would look strong but also feel appropriate in Hall alongside paintings of eminent Fellows, was challenging. I made many visual references, predominately Pre-Raphaelite paintings and the work of photographers Edward Steichen and Irving Penn from the 30’s and 40’s. I am looking forward to seeing the work hang in Hall.”

Born in Liverpool, Michael Birt is considered one of the leading portrait photographers of his generation. He has worked extensively for the best publications in London and New York, creating a unique body of work, especially whilst under contract for Tina Brown’s Talk Magazine. He has exhibited extensively worldwide, a collection is held at the National Portrait Gallery, Gold Medal winner in the Royal Photographic Society’s International Print Exhibition 2009 and participated in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize five times. More

Michael Birt by Clare Park.

Above, Michael's portraits of (left to right) Monica Ali (PPE, 1986) Author; Tau Tau Liu, Emeritus Fellow; Rosamund Pike (English, 1997) Actress; and Sandra Fredman (PPE, 1976) Rhodes Professor of the Laws of the British Commonwealth and the USA.

View the Michael Birt portraits

Photographer Sophia Spring

The images below are cropped from portraits captured by photographer Sophia Spring.

“I was thrilled to be asked to do this project for Wadham. The diversity of the subjects was a dream from a photographer’s point of view, and everyone I photographed was fascinating. They all had lovely recollections of their time at Wadham which I enjoyed listening to as I photographed them all."

Sophia studied photography at the London College of Communication and works as a freelance photographer for clients including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Observer, Monocle and The Guardian Weekend. Her photographic projects have included portraits taken in Cuba 50 years after the revolution; portraits taken in Sierra Leone ten years after the Civil war; and photographs taken in Kubbutzim across Israel. More

Tsou Sheung Tsun (Bowra Fellow 1978-1979), Mathematician

Dawood Gustave (Modern History, 1999), founder Reluctantly Brave

Emma Reynolds (PPE, 2000), Labour MP

Amelia Gentleman (Russian and History, 1991), Journalist

Anne McElvoy (Philosophy & Modern Languages, 1984), Journalist

Hari Kunzru (English, 1988), Novelist

Eileen Gillese (Law, 1977) Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario

About the Changing Faces project

Warden Ken Macdonald QC has led this project to showcase a more balanced selection of images of Wadham’s alumni and fellows.

“I wanted to address the predominance in Hall and around College of portraits of white men. These are grand figures from Wadham’s past and they deserve their place in our history. But Wadham in the twenty-first century is a community that is proud of its diversity and it’s time to reflect this in the portraits that adorn our walls. These inspirational images represent Wadham as it is today,” he said.

The  subjects have been chosen following nominations from staff, students and alumni, as inspirational members of the Wadham community.