Skip to main content
21st March 2022 Poppy Bartrum (2018, Biochemistry)

Turl Street Arts Festival returns with a bang!

Poppy Bartrum reports on the return to Turl St of Oxford's biggest arts festival, after two years of socially distanced festivals.

After two years of socially distanced events, the return of the Turl Street Arts Festival was welcomed by all with open arms. As Oxford’s biggest arts festival, Turl Street Arts Festival (TSAF) has always been hugely popular amongst the three Turl Street colleges, with hundreds of students coming together for a week-long celebration of the arts and their collective creative talents.

This year’s festival was inspired by the colour blue, and its significance in the artistic world.

When Yves Klein debuted his prolific Monochrome Blue series of works, he described the colour as being ‘beyond dimensions, whereas other colours are not’. For him, the colour symbolised nature, the universe and all that is vast and infinite. Klein’s famous hue, International Klein Blue, was subsequently used in Derek Jarman’s 1993 film ‘Blue’, in which a simple blue screen forms the backdrop to Jarman’s narrative of living as a gay man with AIDS in the 1990s. Here the colour evokes a sense of silence, eluding to both Jarman’s spiritual peace and acceptance of his inevitable death, and the silencing of queer narratives during the AIDS crisis. Jarman’s haunting narrative is interwoven with a poem inspired by Homer’s Odyssey: a work where the colour blue, or rather the lack of it, creates a surreal and often dystopian landscape. The conflicting ability to evoke both the serenity of nature and the social media symbols of the modern digital world give the colour blue its unique properties as a colour without boundaries.

The connection between these artworks eludes to another theme of the festival, which is that of collaboration. During the opening ceremony our guest speaker, writer David Napthine, expressed how art is shaped not only by its creator, but by its audience. The power of perspective is what enriches art to give it depth and meaning, and it is the appreciation that both audience and creator share for art that makes it so wonderful. This was exemplified throughout the festival: from the intimate open-mic Soiree to the boisterous, triumphant Jazz Ball, where hundreds were brought together by their love of the arts. Throughout the week this collaboration was in evidence through the numerous workshops where artists and students demonstrated their artistic talents and expressed them through a variety of media.

Whilst the 2021 Festival showed us how the art world survived through a year of isolation, it was the return of the live audience in 2022 which showed once again why art is truly worth celebrating.

Share this article