She may be half-Dutch and half-Luxembourger, but artist Patrice Moor is no stranger to Oxford – and tells Jaine Blackman why she loves the city so much

Patrice Moor’s home may be in London but Oxford is where her art is.

Well, a lot of it is.

She’s coming to the end of 18 months as artist-in-residence at the city’s Botanic Garden and an exhibition of her work is being held before she moves on to take the same post at Somerville College, also in Oxford.

“My connection started 37 years ago when I first arrived in England,” says Patrice, who is half-Dutch and half-Luxembourger, with French as her mother tongue.

“I came to Oxford to learn English and lived here for two years before going to college in London.

“It was a very happy time for me and I have kept my connection up ever since and have many friends in and around Oxford.”

Her previous residency was at the Royal College of Physicians.

“I was asked by them to inspire myself from the medicinal garden to produce some works. This made me realise how integral plants were to my areas of interests: life, decay and death.”

It led her to approach the University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden and her current residency.

“It has been hugely enjoyable and very beneficial for my work. I have had many hours, in all weathers and all seasons on my own here, all of it interesting and stimulating and all with beauty.”

Patrice has spent about a day a week at the garden and the rest of the time at her studio in London.

“My main challenge has been to force myself back to my studio rather than be in the garden for yet another day,” she says.

“This was a constant temptation throughout my residency.

"The opportunity to explore plants further has been very helpful to my work. As an artist the longer you have to immerse yourself in a subject the more interesting it becomes, the more you see that you had not seen before and the more your horizons expand.

“This is a tremendously exciting process, full of possibilities and challenges.”

The exhibition, which starts next Saturday, is called Nature Morte. The underlying subjects of her work are life, death and decay are all reflected in the works exhibited, which highlight the diversity and fragility of living things as well as the transience of plants and their life cycles.

Patrice’s next residency at Somerville College, starts officially in May and will last for one year.

She’s looking forward to the new challenges and spending more time in the city she clearly loves.

“I am already spending some time there and immersing myself in some aspects of the life of the college, taking photographs, sketching and meeting people and asking questions,” she says.

“I am beginning to get a sense of the work I might be making.

"It will involve my being at Somerville one day a week during term time and also some time out of term, talking to as many different people as possible in the college and trying to translate a little of the essence of Somerville on to canvas.

“I am always happy to come to Oxford and always happy to be here.

“The cultural life of the city is so rich, whatever your areas of interest may be.

“Visually it is a feast and on a cold, sunny winter’s day I think it is utterly stunning.

“The sense of history is palpable everywhere in the centre of the city, and I still find after all these years of coming that I see new things that I had not noticed before.

“I love the Ashmolean and always spend some time there whenever I come, and make a point of visiting exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art.”

Oxford Mail:
Helianthus annus, oil on canvas 40" x 40"

Patrice finds that one placement often leads to another.

"My residencies come about quite organically, I follow my instincts and one residency often influences another," she says.

"It relates very much to my approach to the work, which is purposefully instinctive and organic.

"There isn’t a specific plan.

"Opportunities arise and I follow them; sometimes it leads nowhere and sometimes it bears fruit.

"I think that dialogues between institutions and artists can only be positive for both parties and add another dimension and some stimulation. Seeing things from another perspective, another point of view is always of interest.

"Beyond my exhibition at the OBG, I am very much looking forward to my residency at Somerville and the new vistas it will open up: new challenges, new opportunities and an entirely different exhibition at the end of my residency there.

"I am also thinking, in the back of my mind, about what possibilities for residencies will emerge afterwards. These have to be thought of as they need a great deal of advance planning. I am always on the lookout for new opportunities and challenges. Wherever I go I take my areas of interests and my subjects with me. I have not chosen them, they have chosen me."

I am also involved with more personal work in my studio in London. I have a body of work that I am painting now and hope to show at a later date; that is another integral part of my practice.