Brasenose Lane, Oxford, England

July 2017: Oxford, Workshop Day 2:  Our afternoon of our second day, we spent our time “parked” on our portable stools looking up the street, with the exercise of a one point perspective, multiple vanishing points all located on the horizon- or eye level line.  It was fun recording the narrow street, and the space created by the adjacent buildings.  Most in the group continued to add colour, but I spent my time visually measuring and enjoyed the line drawing as it came to life.

The Lane is pedestrian access only with  a single drainage channel in the centre. The stone-faced college buildings on each side belong to three separate Oxford colleges; some of the buildings surrounding the lane dating from the 15th century.  The lane is the last in Oxford to still have the central gutter or “kennel“.

As I research about Brasenose Lane I was interested to learn John Ruskin, had commented on the lane in 1872, when he gave his Slade Lecture-The Relation to Art of the Science of Light.  The university he regarded as the “temple of Apollo”; but, he said, “in the centre of that temple, at the very foot of the dome of the Radcliffe, between two principal colleges, the lane by which I walked from my own college half an hour ago to this place – Brasen-nose Lane – is left in a state as loathsome as a back alley in the East end of London.”

John Ruskin wrote an essay published May 1849, in book form the “Seven Lamps of Architecture” .  The essay is structured to include a chapter for each of the seven “Lamps” which represent the demands that good architecture must meet.

When I graduated architecture, our class ring was designed with seven notches, to remind us of the “Seven Lamps of Architecture“.  The irony is not lost.  Here I sat, with my class ring on my drawing hand, capturing the charm of this Oxford Street, that in the 1800’s the artist, art critic, and social thinker- John Ruskin had thought to include in his lecture.







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