The Oxford TimesBringing the Outside In: Oxford Botanic Garden 

THURSDAY, 14 JULY 2011

Bringing the Outside In: Oxford Botanic Garden

Having entered the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, turn into the exhibition space on the right to enjoy an intriguing art exhibition, which as its title declares, is Bringing The Outside In. It is Dionne Barber’s latest collection of oil paintings on show until July 31. Dionne is an experienced community artist who has transformed the exhibition space with a collection of large canvasses painted in oils applied thickly with bold colourful strokes that dance across the surface. They depict various aspects of the vegetation and glasshouses, and the city that surrounds the garden.

Bringing the Outside In: Oxford Botanic GardenBringing the Outside In: Oxford Botanic Garden

While some pictures, such as Winter (mixed media on board) and the Botanic Garden Study (oil bar on paper) have been painted in dark foreboding colour combinations, the majority of her work, most particularly Peace (oil on canvas, pictured right) have a luminosity that glows with life. It is her careful application of yellow among the green grasses that adds so much life to this study. Dionne’s Glasshouse (Oil on canvas) is suggestive of alien plants, struggling to escape the confines of the glasshouse as they twist upwards towards the sky. It is certainly a very powerful piece.

Seen together the collection becomes an exploration of the senses, as the works transport the viewer into another world and another way of seeing Oxford’s secret garden.

Dionne studied Fine Art Painting at Cheltenham School of Art, and lives in Oxford, working as a freelance artist, who shares her skills with others through workshops for disadvantaged children and the homeless, also adults with learning disabilities. Her aim when conducting these workshops is to inspire the participants in hope they leave her studio with a sense of having enjoyed a new experience.

Visitors admiring her work in this exhibition will doubtless leave feeling refreshed and with a desire to walk through the University Garden, exploring the various plants that she has captured so boldly on canvas.