THIS year’s coronavirius pandemic and the subsequent lockdown touched us all, leaving memories of fear, suffering and loneliness – but also love, and hope and respect

Impressions of the momentous events of 2020 will now also be preserved for posterity at the Ashmolean Museum.

In one of the most impressive public participatory art projects of its kind, the Beaumont Street museum challenged artists of all ages to create artistic responses to coronavirus and the lockdown. Participants reflected on their experiences, things they missed and moments of optimism.

Running from May-July, the Artists in Residence competition – supported by the Oxford Mail’s sister paper The Oxford Times – received nearly 1,200 entries from across the UK. People sent in a huge range of artworks including paintings, drawings and photographs, collage, sculpture, video, mosaics and textiles. Strong themes emerged: gratitude to key workers and the NHS; the importance of friends and family; appreciation of the natural world; and the deep impact of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The tumultuous events prompted thought-provoking creations by everyone from imaginative children to professional artists.

Today the winners and runners up see their work go on display in the museum atrium.

The winners are:

  • Under-11s – Winner: Wilkie Metz-Moser, 8 for his painting, View from my window. Runners-up: Nina Davis, 6, for her drawing, Garden Treehouse and Isaac Finley, 10, for his drawing, I Hate this Lockdown.
  • 11-18 years-old – Winner: Ellen Clay, 14, for her drawing and watercolour, The Person I miss the Most. Runners-up: Tabitha Budgen, 12, for her watercolour, Angels and Archie Johnston,16, for his painting, Overwhelm.
  • 18 plus – Winner: Stefan Tiburcio, for his print, Stay At Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. Runners-up: Aizat Kamaruzaman, for his photograph, Waiting for Better Days and Ruth Swain, for her painting, Essentials.
  • The competition was judged by: Janina Ramirez, cultural historian, broadcaster and Course Director at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education; Lizzie Collins, director of Zuleika Gallery, Woodstock; Dr Kamal Mahtani, GP and Associate Professor, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Oxford University; Xa Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean; and the Oxford Mail’s Tim Hughes.

Dr Ramirez said: “I knew this competition would bring in an interesting array of entries but I wasn’t prepared for the quantity and quality of the submission.! It was a cornucopia of riches with every entry worthy. The finalists all give an insight into what this year has been like to live through and they will act as artistic records for the future. It was an honour to be involved.”

Ms Collins said: “The Artists in Residence submissions demonstrate how important art has been to people during this difficult time. It was wonderful to see amazing creativity and positivity pouring out through artwork.”

Dr Mahtani agreed, saying: “It was an absolute delight to be able to review the entries in this competition. The standard of work was way beyond my expectations for what is a difficult time for the population. Those that were placed in the runner-up positions should be incredibly proud of their efforts amidst such strong competition. The winning entries are truly worthy of their accolades, with the feeling, emotion and meaning behind each picture particularly moving.”

Tim Hughes said the quality of entries surpassed expectation. He said: “We all hoped the competition would be a success, but we have been bowled over by the enthusiasm of participants and the quality of the entries. It was very hard to narrow it down but these are all very worthy winners. It was a great honour for The Oxford Times to be involved. I would urge everyone to go along to the Ashmolean to see these pictures in real life.”

Dr Sturgis was also impressed, saying: “We were overwhelmed by the entries to our competition and had to sift through hundreds of creative and imaginative responses to our collective experience of the last nine months.

“The works ranged from the witty and optimistic, to the heartfelt and moving and all bear testimony to the profound way in which recent events have shifted how we see our world, ourselves and those around us.

“Looking through all the entries was pure pleasure, choosing our winners a struggle, but I am thrilled by the range of our winners and above all by the strong yet varied emotions they reflect and engender.”

The finalists’ artwork are on display in the Ashmolean Atrium. The runners-up have been awarded a range of Ashmolean treats; and the winners in each category will enjoy a celebration afternoon tea in the Ashmolean restaurant and a tour of one its 2021 exhibitions.

* See more entries online at