Freeborn Gallery

“Returning to painting after another 10 year gap” by Wendy Botto

Exhibition & Artist in Residence in the Freeborn Gallery

Monday 24th April -Thursday 25th May 2017

Open to public 9.30am-2.30pm daily term time

Private View Wednesday 26th April 7.00pm

Wendy Botto


The Freeborn Gallery is proud to be staging an exhibition by DGS alumni Wendy Botto (nee Sanderson):

I am a former student of DGS from long ago - I was born in Didcot in 1963. I was lucky enough to have Ron Freeborn as my Art teacher at DGS, and adored the subject throughout my school career. I went on to do a one-year Foundation course at Banbury, and it was there that I first learnt about a limited palette and dropped the use of black. I went on to specialise in painting and completed a BA in Fine Art at Portsmouth Polytechnic.

Subsequently I worked in graphic design for various printing companies in London, Swindon and Didcot, and my painting was replaced by logo design and computer skills. However, I always drew when possible and never used clip art! After a 10 year gap I returned to painting, and once again met Ron Freeborn. I joined Blewbury Art Group and had local exhibitions. My work started to sell and I also held workshops around Oxfordshire, including some outdoor workshops at Sunningwell School of Art. At this point my main medium was oil.  After the birth of my daughter, I turned to acrylics simply because juggling pushchairs, dogs and wet oil canvases was not an easy feat!  I had to surrender my studio when she was two because she had outgrown our small bedroom. I painted when I could, but started helping out at various toddler groups and preschools, working on individual and group art projects with toddlers, and became fascinated with Child Art. I went on to obtain a Higher Pre-school Diploma in Childcare as I was so interested in how children learn and interpret the world.

Sadly, with lack of studio space and other hobbies such as teaching dog agility becoming increasingly important in my life, I have done very little painting for the last 10 years. However, I have continued to keep an active interest in Art and have enjoyed watching my daughter’s artistic education at DGS. I am thrilled at the prospect of both an exhibition and an Artist in Residency in the Freeborn Gallery. What better place to return to painting after 10 years than the very place that inspired my love of Art.

Wendy Botto

Jeff Clarke - Paintings, Drawings and Prints

Jeff Clarke has had a long and distinguished career as an artist. He studied at the Brighton School of Art from 1952-1956 where his particular focus was wood engraving and then etching, before winning travel awards and scholarships which took him to France and Italy. Inspired to paint and draw by the towns and architecture he encountered on this travels, he returned to Oxford in 1960 to take up a part time teaching post at the Oxford School of Art, now part of Oxford Brookes. From 1964-1973 he had 5 one-man shows of paintings at the legendary Bear Lane Gallery in Oxford.

It was his developing friendship with the prominent British artist Terry Frost, then teaching at Reading University, that led Jeff to return to print making and to his post as visiting tutor at Reading. This collaborative friendship resulted in a period of Abstraction in his work which was showcased in an exhibition of etchings at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art and at Kettles Yard in Cambridge.

From 1979-80 Jeff was appointed as draughtsman to the British School of Archaeology in Athens where he was inspired afresh by the light of the Mediterranean and by ancient pots. Back in the open air, he was able to work directly from the streets and everyday objects around him and to experiment with chiaroscuro, the interplay between light and shade.

Recent years have seen Jeff continue to draw artistically from the ‘stuff’ of everyday life back in his East Oxford home and studio. His work is shown regularly at the Christchurch Picture Gallery and Art Jericho. From 1996-1999 he was a visiting tutor at the Royal Academy Schools in London, during which period he was elected to the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers.


A Life in Art 

A celebration of the work of Ron Freeborn, artist, teacher, director 

 The Freeborn Gallery is delighted to be hosting an exhibition to mark the 80th birthday of much loved Didcot Girls' School teacher, Ron Freeborn. Ron taught at the school from 1967-1994, during which time he saw the school change from grammar school to comprehensive. Not only did he lead a vibrant art department, where countless generations of girls were inspired and nurtured artistically, he also played a leading role in the school's theatrical and musical life and is still remembered for his direction of 'The Crucible' amongst other memorable productions. Out of school, Ron was a leading light of the legendary Blewbury Players and in 1981 Central TV made a documentary of his ground breaking production of 'The Snow Queen'. This ambitious project included a specially commissioned musical score and involved the whole village in its staging. Watching the film today, the viewer is given a charming insight into English village life. In 1983 Ron was seconded to Modern Art Oxford for a year where his experience in arts education was considered vital in the establishment of this very new and now internationally renowned Oxford museum. 

Ron has lived his life at the heart of things- from artist to art teacher and mentor, to director and set and costume Ron Freeborndesigner... He is the kind of teacher that everybody wishes they had been taught by – if they weren't lucky enough to be one of his pupils! This retrospective exhibition strives to pay tribute to his work and to Ron himself. 


You are invited to the private view of 'Local Landmarks; an Experiment with Styles' on Wednesday 6th July from 6:30pm. This exhibition of original prints by Simon East will also feature linocut prints by Didcot Girls' School pupils.

Local artist Simon East and Year 9 pupils come together with a common aim to celebrate local landmarks that are a part of our lives - that have touched and moved us. Working with Simon through a series of printmaking workshops, the girls bring their own interpretations and artistic styles to a series of such local landmarks, in the hope that you will see them anew - and that they will move you too.

The exhibition will be open to view from 9:30am to 2:30pm Monday to Friday from 7th until 20th July.

Please join us for the private view of our next exciting exhibition in the Freeborn Gallery on Wednesday 18th May.

HOPES & DREAMS-statements of intent explored

An exhibition of works by members of Letter Exchange

May 19th-June 23rd 2016

Open Monday-Friday 9.30pm-2.30pm

(Closed May 27th-June 6th, June 13th)

A manifesto is a public declaration of intent: an opportunity to put into words hopes, dreams, a vision or plans. It is a way to influence and inspire others. Whether political, artistic, religious or personal, manifestos have been the source of some of the most influential and challenging concepts in history.

Letter Exchange is a society of some of the most talented lettering artists in the country. These practitioners of contemporary fine lettering aspire to produce new and challenging work, experimenting with materials and techniques to deliver thoughts and ideas in a memorable and striking way. For this national touring exhibition, Letter Exchange invited its members to submit works based on the theme of manifestos. The broad brief of ‘Hopes & Dreams-statements of intent explored’ allowed artists to explore a rich and diverse seam of texts to discover phrases and passages that resonated with them as individuals or inspired them to create their own manifestos.

Didcot Girls’ School is a school with a strong vision: a community with values and beliefs held close to its collective heart. The Freeborn Gallery has mounted this exhibition with the hope that it will inspire and stimulate discussion about what is important to the school and to each individual. Pupils and staff have been invited to submit their own manifestos which will be realised artistically by art students and displayed in the school.

Amanda Jewell

The Freeborn Gallery is delighted to announce its Spring 2016 exhibition, ‘Dance and the Woman’ by Lin Kerr. The exhibition, which opens on February 24th and runs until the end of April, is made up of a series of calligraphic paintings and illustrations and is accompanied by verse by local poet, Christopher Ellott. Lin Kerr, an artist, calligrapher and teacher, has worked with DGS pupils of all ages and  academic disciplines in an exciting collaborative project which will be showcased at the show’s opening on Wednesday February 24th 6.30-8pm. You are all warmly invited to attend this event where drawings by students created during a workshop run by Lin will hang alongside the artist’s work. There will be a performance of dance pieces choreographed by Year 9 and 10 pupils in response to Lin’s paintings and readings of poetry written by the Creative Writing Group. Musical entertainment will be provided by soloists from the Music Department.

This richly collaborative venture promises to generate an inspiring and rewarding evening. As ever, the Freeborn Gallery aims to bring high quality professional art into the school environment as a stimulus for thought, imagination and creativity across the curriculum. In a school for girls like DGS, the themes raised and explored by this project have particular relevance and resonance.

Amanda Jewell

‘A Song for David Redfern’ by Edu Hawkins - September 2015


'A Song for David Redfern' by Edu Hawkins was a photographic tribute to one of the legends of music photography, David Redfern. Redfern photographed the most famous musicians in the world, from The Beatles to Louis Armstrong, and was an inspiration for generations of young photographers. Edu Hawkins has worked and exhibited with the late David Redfern and is represented by Redferns, the music picture specialists of Getty Images. Hawkins has photographed legendary jazz and blues artists, as well as popular artists such as The Manic Street Preachers, Elton John and Blondie. He has exhibited at the South Bank Centre in London and The Sage at Gateshead.

DGS art students and musicians took part in a photography workshop run by Edu in conjunction with his exhibition, based on the theme ‘A Sense of Place’.


‘Printscapes’ by Catriona Brodribb - July 2015

IMG_0289The inaugural exhibition at The Freeborn Gallery was by distinguished Oxford Printmaker, Catriona Brodribb. Her exhibition ‘Printscapes’ explored and celebrated the ancient and industrial landscape around Didcot and South Oxfordshire. Cat ran drypoint etching workshops in connection with her show for a group of Gifted and Talented art students. Alongside Cat’s work, Didcot Sixth Form College students exhibited their own A level Art & Graphics work.



Didcot Girls’ School was delighted to celebrate the opening of The Freeborn Gallery on Thursday 2nd July 2015. The evening was attended by approximately 100 guests, who gathered to enjoy a wonderful evening of art and to meet Ron Freeborn, the gallery’s namesake.

This newly created exhibition space will host an annual programme of art exhibitions by professional artists from all over the county. The gallery will be organised and run by Amanda Jewell who has volunteered to be curator. Amanda is also curator of the well known Sewell Gallery at Radley College. Apart from promoting the work of local artists, this will give pupils the opportunity to enjoy and engage with high calibre art on a daily basis. Furthermore, each exhibition will be used as the basis for workshops for the school’s art students.

The gallery was officially opened by Ron Freeborn, who was Head of Art for 30 years at the school. Born and bred in Didcot, Ron taught and inspired countless generations of girls and is held in great affection by the school to this day. He is still a practising artist and teacher and has his work in collections in 5 continents, as well as in the Government Art Collection. A passionate believer in the power of art to transform, nurture, stimulate and provoke thought, Ron put the subject at the heart of the school and it has stayed there ever since.

Clinical studies in response to the well established ‘Paintings in Hospitals’ organisation reveal the highly positive benefits of displaying art in healthcare environments and confirm that art plays an important role in the healing process. Similarly, the Art Department at Didcot Girls’ School, believe in the power of art to transform a space, promote well-being and provoke thought and discussion. We hope that this exhibition space will be bring together and engage students of all academic disciplines and ages.


Amanda Jewell, Curator of the Freeborn Gallery

Martin Ray, Teacher of Art & Graphics


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