From the MAO archive: Space Place in 1966

For the second blog in our #MAOarchive series we take you back to 1966, the year the gallery opened.

Space Place: Constructed Space Participation was to be the gallery’s first self-generated exhibition. In the words of art critic Andrew Forge, it declared the director’s intention to make the museum “a place where things can happen… music can be played or children can run about, people can talk.”

Indeed, sculptors Maurice Agis and Peter Jones intended their installations to be a “place for people – a place where you can meet – to look – to feel – to listen – to laugh – to cry – to love – to protest…”

Maurice Agis and Peter Jones, Space Place, installation view at Modern Art Oxford, 1966. © Modern Art Oxford

Strong believers that people need spaces that connect people, Agis and Jones produced multi-sensory walk-in installations, featuring coloured panels enhanced by taped soundtracks of ‘hoots and booms.’ Visitors were encouraged to consider the space as a constantly evolving work, open to their own creative actions.

Maurice Agis and Peter Jones, Space Place, Modern Art Oxford, 1966. © Modern Art Oxford

The space hosted experimental artists including Yoko Ono, poet Adrian Mitchell and pianist John Tilbury, prompting one local reporter’s comment “perhaps it was a happening at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art last night, because certain things happened, though it’s hard to explain exactly what.”

Maurice Agis and Peter Jones, Space Place, installation view at Modern Art Oxford, 1966. © Modern Art Oxford

In this moment of physical distancing, we consider the possibilities of social solidarity and creative exchange opened up to us by digital platforms, and encourage you all to reach out virtually – to explore new and creative ways of meeting, listening, laughing and feeling.

Follow #MAOarchive on Instagram to discover more memories from the gallery’s history.

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