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Meadowbrook at the Ashmolean







Liberty McFarlane from Meadowbrook College 
Liberty McFarlane, 17, from Meadowbrook College, with the reproduction of Manet's
portrait used to help them produce their own designs. Photograph by David Fleming.

The acquisition of the painting has transformed the breadth and scope of the Ashmolean’s collections of works by Impressionist painters; and it has added a new dimension to the national collection of works by Manet. Since the acquisition, a range of activities supported by the HLF, including lectures, family activities, online learning, and activities for schools, have been introducing new audiences to the painting and to Impressionist art more widely.

In addition to the Roundabout partnership, the Museum has been working with Meadowbrook College, Oxfordshire’s Pupil Referral Unit and Integration Service, which provides support to a hundred secondary age students across the county. Meadowbrook students who attend the unit’s arts centre have taken part in a Manet project during the past school term. Students have visited the Museum and have attended workshops given by the Ashmolean. They have produced their own artwork, reinterpreting the portrait in three dimensional canvases and large scale paintings which have modernized Manet’s scene.

Visit the free display in the Ashmolean Museum Education Centre until January 2015. Read more about the project at the Me, Myself & Manet blog.

Seeing the painting through their eyes…….

Words by Dionne Freeman, Director of Meadowbrook College, The Harlow Centre.

dionneMeadowbrook students have had the unique opportunity to work with the Ashmolean this term. The project has involved visiting the painting in the museum, going behind the scenes at the Ashmolean and regular visits from the Museum to the school. These visits have enabled the students to build a really good relationship with Nicola where students have gained real insight into the museum and the painting. The art workshops at school have involved 3D canvases, large scale repainting and students modernizing the scene.

I am really proud of the students work and I know they are both surprised and inspired by their own interpretations of the painting. The time Nicola and the museum have invested has resulted in the students feeling a real sense of ownership and understanding of the work. Providing them with the confidence to access the museum and produce such unique responses, which has allowed us to see the painting through their eyes.

Here are just a few of the pieces the students have been working on …..

J redesign portrait


Creating a large scale painting, using a projected image of the portrait.



boxer Mlle c


I thought the sitter was wealthy and I wanted to show she was a strong woman through my interest in boxing.





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I extended my own version of the portrait ….. I drew also drew vines and hanging vines because it reminds me of my favourite animals, monkeys!

I slowly layered up paint, ink and graphite to create different textures and feelings. I wanted to take her out of her world and into a completely different one. I think I have changed the atmosphere and context.



Want to see more? Come and visit our exhibition at The Ashmolean (Education Studio Gallery) from 13 December to early January 2015.

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‘I didn’t think I could just come in here…..’

…. words by a student from Meadowbrook College, The Harlow Centre.

My first impressions of the museum were that the building looks amazing and lush with all the decorations. Many people went to the Ashmolean, also different schools, I thought it was amazing.

We first looked outside the building and it looked amazing. I had to draw a sketch of the museum and drop down notes to remember things and what I thought of the museum. We met the education officer who was called Nicola Bird. She was friendly and chatty. She showed us the inside of the Ashmolean Museum. Inside of the Ashmolean looked beautiful. She took us to see the painting and the other paintings around it. They are all just amazing and it shows us how different the painting was back then. Then we looked at the block where the students work will go up so everyone can see everyone’s work. Nothing will look more good that seeing young people’s work up in the Ashmolean Museum.

What I thought of the painting was how different it was to the copy we have. I thought the original looked brighter and there was bits that look completely different to the copy. For example, the balcony was much clearer and very green, also the texture of the painting was so amazing as it is many years old and you could see how he used his paint brush. The colours were so much in depth than the copy because in the copy it was all dark and bold but the original was more colourful.

Here is a photo of me and Nicola in front of the painting.

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Manet and The Meadowbrook Unit, Oxford

Mlle Claus feminismOver the past 7 weeks, the Ashmolean and Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus has been working with Meadowbrook College, a pupil referral unit based at The Harlow Centre Oxford.

Based at Meadowbrook College is the Vision Artz Centre, a space where preconceptions, self-confidence and social skills are addressed through creativity. An inspirational approach to learning and art, the centre uses the arts to enrich the lives of its students and the wider community. Dionne Freeman is a local artist and director of the arts centre.

Working together, the young people have really got to know the Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus, Manet, Impressionism and the Ashmolean. The consistent hard work and enthusiasm the young people have demonstrated has been overwhelming. They have an insightful approach to Mademoiselle Claus and really taken the different themes; feminism, the concept of image, celebrity culture, 19th Century fashion and society, and run with them. A popular approach to the painting was modernising the sitter, her clothes and the setting whilst recognising the similarities between Manet’s world and our own.

As well as visits to Meadowbrook, some of the young people visited the museum. Here’s a short summary.

‘I like the idea of having my work on display- nobody else can say they have had their work up in the Ashmolean.’

‘I love art, I’ve been here lots of times with my schools. I’ve never been here with my family though. I would really like to bring my mum. ‘
blog post P1050124One student approaches her work with artistic flair; she clearly vocalised her inspiration and personal connections with paintings she saw at the Ashmolean. Her favourite painting amongst the French Impressionists was Pissarro’s The Tuileries Gardens, – explaining it through very personal connection of spending time with her mum and dad, or A Garden Urn by Manet. ‘”If I was going to draw a vase, it would be like that.”

‘I didn’t think I could just come in here, the building is so old. It’s lush’. 
blog post P1040673Another student approaches art, Manet and the Ashmolean with careful consideration and thoughtfulness. Whilst walking around, we chatted about art history, wandering through the galleries, looking at the changes in styles through time, the themes, their narratives. She took a long time looking at Manet’s portrait – we studied the brush strokes, the areas of detail, areas which even lacked paint; the canvas showing through. She also warmed towards the Pisarro The Tuileries Gardens as her favourite. A painting which captured the exact weather outside the museum the day and also captured the atmosphere – quiet, heads down, contemplative.

‘I hate museums, I’m devastated we are here today.’ 
When meeting another student at Meadowbrook, we had a 45 minute discussion on Manet, Impressionism, composition, the art market and she succinctly commented on the similarities between Manet and Banksy – how they pushed boundaries and used new styles in art.
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The visit to the Ashmolean started with her stating she hates museums. But she still came. Whilst walking around the museum, she observed and commented on the artwork she saw, making personal connections with other artists and paintings, having preferences on styles and clearly explaining the reasons behind her preferences.                                       










Meadowbrook College is an AP Academy managed by Radcliffe Academy which is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales with registered company number 9334026 and its registered address at Raymund Road, Marston, Oxford OX3 0PG