BBC JOURNALIST FEATURES IN OXFORD DIVERSITY PROJECT
A PORTRAIT of BBC journalist Reeta Chakrabarti has gone up at Oxford in an exhibition aimed at promoting the university’s ethnic, socio-economic and gender diversity, writes Amit Roy.
Chakrabarti, 52, who read English and French at Exeter College before graduating in 1988, is one of 20 people selected from more than 100 nominations of living Oxonians.
“I loved my time at Oxford,” Chakrabarti said in a statement. “There weren’t – then – many people from my background at university there.
“But that didn’t stop my experience from being overwhelmingly good.
“I hope this project will show that Oxford is open to everyone, and that it wants to be more so. I hope too that it reflects present-day Oxford back at itself, and that it encourages an ever more diverse range of people to study there.”
She was photographed by Fran Monks who told Eastern Eye: “The portrait of Reeta was taken in the Cohen Quad, the latest addition to Exeter College.
“I loved the light that has been created by the architect Alison Brooks in the newly built quad. This enabled me to make a portrait that looks almost like a painting.
“Reeta was a wonderful subject to work with, and really understood how we were trying to make a picture that would stand the test of time, and hold its own on a wall next to an oil painting.”
Chakrabarti, who is married with three children and lives in London, is the elder sister of the actress and writer, Lolita Chakrabarti, 48.
The 20 portraits include paintings, drawings and photographs commissioned earlier this year as part of the Oxford University’s Diversifying Portraiture project. They have gone up in Blackwell Hall, Weston Library, where they will remain on display until January 7, 2018.
When the exhibition ends, the portraits will be hung in the university’s Examination Schools, one of its most prominent public spaces.
Dr Rebecca Surender, advocate and pro-vice chancellor for equality and diversity at Oxford University, said: “It is hugely important for students and staff to feel at home at Oxford, and to feel inspired by people they can relate to.
“This series of portraits, created by a talented group of artists, will broaden the range of people represented around the university. All of those nominated and selected have made enormous contributions to Oxford life and to society more widely.”
The 20 selected are “from a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and people from LGBTQ communities”, she added. They include Professor Aditi Lahiri, a linguistics scholar; film director Ken Loach; Dr Kumi Naidoo, a human rights activist; Dame Esther Rantzen, the broadcaster and charity campaigner; and the novelist Jeanette Winterson.