Colourful standard may be a flag for the city's future

8:30am Saturday 31st May 2014

By Ben Wilkinson

COULD this be the new Oxford flag?

The colourful standard, created by residents, celebrates the university, dreaming spires and the theory of evolution.

Oxford has never had a city flag, although Oxford City Council has its coat of arms – a bull crossing a river.

The banner was designed by visitors to a Modern Art Oxford workshop last Sunday, led by professional banner maker Ed Hall.

City residents who dropped in drew their inspiration from an exhibition about Oxford architecture inspired by evolution.

Mr Hall, 69, said: “In the 1850s, the O’Shea brothers from Dublin were invited to come and work on the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

“That was right at the focal point of the debate about evolution.

“The brothers began to create carvings on the museum of monkeys but with human qualities.

“Because Oxford University was Christian and opposed to evolution at that point, it sacked the brothers.

“But they began to get other commissions around Oxford and proceeded to carve as monkeys the very people who had sacked them.”

The flag features two O’Shea monkeys, holding a banner saying “nothing is forever”.

It also shows a dreaming spire against a blue sky, and another banner reading “will evolution save us?”

Mr Hall added: “Everyone was discussing ideas and what we’ve ended up with I think is really interesting.”

The monkeys represent the animal kingdom and four vaulting gymnasts, inspired by another exhibition at MAO, represent humanity.

Gallery communications manager, Hannah Evans, said: “It looks amazing, it has pulled in things from our own exhibitions and has a beautiful blue sky.”

City councillor Mohammed Abbasi, elected Lord Mayor of Oxford this month, welcomed the idea of an Oxford flag.

He said: “I think we should have a flag, we have got a strong reputation and a proud history. We have so many things to be proud of here, I think we need to get together and discuss it.”

A blue and green Oxfordshire flag, named the St Frideswide Cross, has been proposed by the Oxfordshire Association, but not formally adopted.

The new Oxford flag will be hung at MAO from Tuesday until the exhibition closes on June 8.

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