A councillor has criticised the council for displaying artwork which is "inappropriate" and lacks diversity.

Liberal Democrat councillor Katherine Miles submitted a motion to Oxford City Council on Monday which called out the council for displaying artwork which contained themes “that are inappropriate for a progressive public body”.

In the motion, Ms Miles highlighted examples of these themes included “animal cruelty and gender based violence”.

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She explained: “These include the Morrell Trophy, featuring a fox hunting group, representing death and a huntsman holding a fox above hounds, which is not currently on public display.”

Ms Miles also took issue with two paintings of ‘The Rape of the Sabines’ and ‘Salome and Head of John the Baptist’.

Ms Miles highlighted there is a great disparity in the number of times men and women are depicted in the council’s artwork.

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Out of the 45 portraits on display in Oxford City Council Town Hall, there are 40 depicting men and only three showing women, with the remaining two including both men and women.

Oxford Mail: Oxford City Council town hallOxford City Council town hall (Image: Contributed)

Ms Miles told the Oxford Mail: "With only three portraits in the town hall of women, it is high time the council redresses the existing lack of diversity within the town hall portraits to better reflect the gender and ethnic diversity of our city.

“Selling any existing artwork not on display, and not becoming of a public institution, may be one way to fund the costs of any initiative to improve the decorations in the town hall."

Oxford Mail: Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here (Image: Newsquest)

Ms Miles has said the council should hold a public consultation on the one-off sale of select artwork from its collection which has “no practical value to the city” or “clear link to Oxford”.

Ms Miles has said she is worried about the “lack of ethnic diversity in the paintings as well”.

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From July 2021, Ms Miles said she has been working on improving the diversity of paintings but has found progress on the issue has been lacking.

The council has not yet committed to holding a public consultation for the sale of any artworks and nor has a timeline for a decision been given.

At a council meeting on February 16, Liberal Democrat councillor Lawrence Fouweather echoed Ms Miles’ concerns about the artwork and suggested selling the work was an opportunity to help those struggling with the cost of living.

Mr Fouweather said: “This council is running short of cash and at the same time the cost of living crisis is thrusting many of our residents into tremendous hardship and poverty.

“This proposed one-off sale of select artworks from the city’s collection would help alleviate the dire plight of some of our most deprived residents.”

Ms Miles hopes that any funds raised through the sale of the “inappropriate” artworks could be used towards rectifying the imbalance in gender and ethnicity in the art on public display.

An Oxford City Council spokesman said: "The proposed motion relating to artworks was not discussed at council and hence there is no council position on this matter."