JUL 2019 Unveiling of Stone Drawing at St John’s College Oxford

St John’s College New Study Centre Exterior View 2019. © Susanna Heron

St John’s College Oxford is delighted to announce the completion and unveiling of Stone Drawing on the 28 September 2019; artist Susanna Heron’s shallow stone relief for St John’s new Library and Study Centre by Wright & Wright Architects.

Carved in Clipsham limestone, the same stone used in the old university buildings of Oxford, Stone Drawing occupies both the external and internal faces of the Library and Study Centre’s west wall and is adjacent to one of the greatest architectural quadrangles in Oxford; the Canterbury Quadrangle. Representing the artist’s largest stone relief to date and completed over a period of four years this extensive artwork comprises three overlapping sections, which are stepped and separated by windows in the reveals.

Susanna Heron is widely acclaimed for her responsive and large-scale site-specific works in stone relief that are developed in collaboration with architects. Situated somewhere between drawing and sculpture, the precise execution of her works in stone are the result of Heron’s experimentation and knowledge of shadow, light, outline and edge and are underpinned by an enduring interest in spatial concerns.

Writing about Stone Drawing for an accompanying artist’s book, the writer and curator Caroline Collier describes her encounter with the work: ‘As you experience one face of the work you are aware of its reverse. When you are indoors, you can glimpse fragments of the other side, through glazed windows in the reveals. It seems to me that it is important to the meaning of this work to be conscious of what you do not see (and where you are not) as well as what is visible at any moment. A sense of space is not only experienced through the eyes but is cumulative and involves the mind, the imagination and the body.’

In creating a work that invites multiple views, the artist has said:‘For the exterior relief I took into consideration the way that rain might be directed over the relief, with the idea that weathering would gradually adapt the line of the carving over a long period of time. This consideration created a drawing of water-flow and light. The carved stone relief on the interior is more shallow and a mirror image to the exterior. As the work is located on an east west axis, sunlight can catch the edges of the relief and cast unexpected shadows.’



Stone Drawing (2014–2019) by Susanna Heron is located on both external and internal faces of the stone wall that forms the west side of the new Library and Study Centre by Wright & Wright Architects at St John’s College, Oxford. The building officially opens to the students and staff of St John’s College on 12 October 2019.

– Stone drawing incorporates 772 stones in total with an average dimension of 600 x 450mm.

– The depths of carving range from between 0.5mm and 64mm.

– The external wall faces the President’s Garden and stands at 6 metres high and 17.4 metres long, with a pool of water at its base, which reflects the carving and throws light up the wall and into the interior.

– The relief is reversed on the corresponding face of the interior walls to the library and measures the same 17.4 metres length but with a reduced height of 3.7 metres.


An artist’s book will be published to coincide with the completion of the work. Designed by the Antwerp-based graphic designer Sarah Schrauwen and illustrated throughout with full colour plates it includes contributions from Andrew J Parker, Principal Bursar of St John’s College, Oxford; Caroline Collier, writer and curator; Susanna Heron; and Wright & Wright Architects. Available from 28 September 2019


For further information and images please contact the studio at https://susannaheron.com/about/contact/

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