Wadham SU buys Iffley artwork

The former Iffley Open House resident’s piece will hang in the Wadham JCR

Wadham College Students’ Union have voted to purchase a piece of artwork produced by a former resident of Iffley Open House this week.

More than 30 students of the college voted unanimously for the motion, which was proposed by Wadham’s Arts Officer Samuel Dunnett.

Wadham SU Vice President, Ellery Shentall, told Cherwell: “The SU has been looking at good ways to decorate the JCR for a while now, and there was consensus surrounding the importance of showing our support both to Iffley Open House and the painter himself.

“We agreed on an amount to pay him for the painting, including a suggestion that although he wanted the money to go to Iffley Open House, we wanted to suggest that some of the money was to go to him directly.”

Amber Stewart, a second-year Magdalen undergraduate commented: “I think that it’s a warming example of the student community coming together to try and help the homeless situation in Oxford in a productive way.”

Natasha Burton, a representative of the Edgar Wind society, the Oxford University Society for History of Art said: “This is a truly fantastic initiative from Wadham SU. It is always a pleasure to see art having a positive impact within our own community, and I’m very pleased this artist in particular has received some of the recognition he deserves.”

Jeevan Ravindran, Chair of the OUSU ‘On Your Doorstep’ homelessness campaign, praised the decision, stating: “It’s great to see Wadham students showing uncon- ditional support for Iffley Open House and encouraging the work of its residents, in spite of Wadham’s current stance. Oxford’s homeless people have so many talents, and these could be truly nourished if they are given a place to stay.”

Mr Ravindran went on to de- scribe the current situation regard- ing the Iffley Open House campaign as “quite volatile”.

The Midcounties Cooperative, who currently lease the property from Wadham, have agreed to allow residents of the shelter to remain until April. But the college argues that pre-demolition work must begin at the end of February if the building of new student accommodation is to be completed by September 2019.

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The building in question was originally purchased by Wadham in 2015 and has been occupied by Iffley Open House since New Year’s Eve, with an estimated 36 people currently sheltering there.

The sale of the piece of artwork comes as the squatter group starts a range of initiative to support its residents.

The group have been running volunteer induction days to train local residents and students to vol- unteer at the centre.

They had planned on opening an ‘Occasional Cafe’ this weekend, to serve tea and bicsuits to members of the public.

However, according to the group, the event had to be cancelled after the Midcounties Co-op refused permission for the group to allow in members of the public.

Kevin Brown, Group General Manager for Specialist Services, at The Midcounties Co-operative, told Cherwell: “We are very happy for the Iffley Open House Group to continue to use the site as a homeless shelter until we are legally required to hand the site back to our landlord, Wadham College.

“As part of our agreement with Iffley Open House Group we put certain conditions in place to ensure the health and safety of all occupants. It is an essential part of that agreement that the property is only used as a homeless shelter and therefore our expectations are that the conditions agreed will be strictly adhered to, and that the property will not be used for any other purposes.”