CHANGE from In Seven Days... © Nicola Green 2010

A Witness to Power: ground-breaking art exhibition at Oxford Saïd

About the event

From President Obama to Archbishop Desmond Tutu: artist Nicola Green explores how power, leadership and art intersect

Saïd Business School hosted a new art exhibition as part of its Art at Oxford Saïd series. 

A Witness to Power, a retrospective exhibition of works by the artist and social historian Nicola Green was displayed at the School, University of Oxford from the 9th October to the 20th December 2019.

Curated by Lizzie Collins of the Zuleika Gallery in association with Hollandridge Group, the exhibition encompassed over fifty works, and brought together two of Green’s critically acclaimed series for the first time: In Seven Days… (2010) and Encounters (2018).

When creating these two bodies of work the artist gained remarkable access to both President Barack Obama and the world’s most pre-eminent religious leaders including Pope Francis, The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. 

Green was determined to be a witness to these events, driven by her belief in the capacity of the visual image to communicate important human stories. Through this, her gaze explores the myriad ways in which power, leadership and art intersect.

A Witness to Power raises important questions about identity and the perception of difference; to inspire others with this story of cross-cultural dialogue.

In Seven Days… was produced from Green’s experience as a first-hand witness to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She created a series of seven large-scale silkscreen prints which capture the significance of President Obama’s campaign and its importance in the long trajectory of history.

In Seven Days...

‘an artistic and historic masterpiece.’

Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Encounters, Green spent a decade travelling the world, witnessing and chronicling new and unprecedented developments in interfaith dialogue. She won the confidence of figures including former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Pope Francis, former Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa, Emeritus Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama.

From this experience, Green realised she was observing a new development in our collective history:  that religious leaders were beginning, for the first time, to publicly articulate their respect for other faiths, without undermining the absolute truth of their own. Green distilled all of this into a series of portraits, presented in two forms The Encounter Series and The Light Series.

The Encounters series was comprised of 30 portraits displayed together in a shared space and of equal status; Green is proud to have been the first artist in history to depict all the world’s major religions together, without hierarchy. 

The Light Series is made up of twelve, life-sized, Perspex figures, which can be found across Saïd Business School's campus. Everyone is invited to meet the figures, to interact with them, and to take photos.

The exhibition launch was accompanied by a Q & A between Nicola Green and renowned author and scholar Saeb Eigner.