Catherine Oakes

Official Fellow,

Welfare Fellow

University Lecturer in History of Art

Department for Continuing Education

MA Oxford, PhD Bristol

It is with great sadness that we have to report that Cathy Oakes passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, 7 August 2019, after a short illness. A passionate advocate of lifelong learning and adult education, she will be much missed by her students and all members of the College community.

Catherine Oakes runs the History of Art programme for OUDCE which enrols nearly a thousand students every year through its provision of weekly classes, day and weekend schools, summer schools, on-line courses and certificates and diplomas.  She directs the Master of Studies programme in Literature and Arts, co-directs the Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies, and co-directs the D Phil programme in architectural history.  She is a medievalist specialising in Romanesque art and architecture, and the interrelation of word and image in western medieval culture.  Her career began in museum education at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London whence she moved on to academic posts first at Bristol University and then at Oxford.  Here she has worked alongside colleagues in medieval studies on three conferences on medieval cloisters (proceedings published in 2006), medieval lady chapels, and medieval chantries.  She is also on the steering committee of the History Faculty’s Masters programme in Medieval Studies.

Her publications have included work on French and English Romanesque subjects, and articles which have emerged from her research on Marian iconography.  In 2008 her major monograph on Marian intercession in medieval art and devotion was published by Brepols.  She has been a visiting professor at American universities three times, most recently at Emory University, Atlanta, in 2006, and is invited to lecture widely both in the UK and in Europe.

In promoting and developing the study of visual culture, she has initiated programmes where artists talk about their work, and courses in which artists work with non-practitioners and demonstrate the interdependence of art practice and art history.  In 2003 the department hosted a weekend conference chaired by the Master of Ruskin, Richard Wentworth, and featuring a number of leading contemporary artists including Cornelia Parker.  In the local community she ran a project in 2007 funded by the Arts Council exploring photography as a tool of local history and as a creative outlet for recording the present.  With the Kings Fund, a major health charity based in London, she worked on arts projects from 2001–2005 with Health Service personnel participating in their Senior Management programme.

Publications (Selected)

Entries on ‘The Cross’( introduction) and ‘The Crucifix’( introduction and sculpted medieval) in J. Turner (general ed.) The Dictionary of Art, 33 vols (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996) vol 8, pp. 195, 210–211 and 213–214
‘Romanesque architecture and sculpture in Bristol Cathedral’ in Bristol Cathedral: History and Architecture (Stroud: Tempus Books, 2000) pp.64–87
‘The Scales: a motif of justice, redemption and intercession in medieval iconography’ in Maria, I (Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 2000) pp.11–36
‘Romanesque Churches in the Loire and Western France’ (Stroud, Tempus Books: 2000) co-authored with M.Costen.
‘The Ramsey Abbey incense boat and censer’ in A History of Britain: treasures from the Victorian and Albert Museum. CD Rom (2000).
‘The Congresbury fragments’,The Antiquaries Journal, Vol 83 (2003) 281–309. Co-authored with M.Costen.
‘Dr Hildburgh and the English medieval Alabaster’ Journal of the History of Collections, Vol 18 (2006) 71–83
‘Ora Pro Nobis: The Virgin Mary as Intercessor in Medieval Art and Devotion’ (Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2008)
‘Fourteenth-century Ways of Seeing: the Chancel Wall Paintings at Chalgrove, Oxfordshire’, Oxoniensia LXXIV (2009) 19–35.
‘SECRETA MEA MIHI: a set of emblematic wall-paintings from the Old Deanery’ in J. Cannon and B. Williamson (eds) An enigma explored: medieval art and architecture at Bristol Cathedral (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2011) 277–299.
‘In Pursuit of Heaven: The two Chantry Chapels of Bishop Edmund Audley at Hereford and Salisbury Cathedrals’ in J. McNeill and J. Luxford (eds) Medieval Chantries (Oxford: Maney, 2012) 196–220.