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KT Bruce is one of Oxford's most established and respected photographers. Her clients include the FT Oxford Literary Festival, Blenheim Literary Festival and Oxford University

My Oxford: KT Bruce

KT Bruce is one of Oxford's most established and respected photographers. Her clients include the FT Oxford Literary Festival, Blenheim Literary Festival and Oxford University
"We were marooned with no easy access in or out. One of our neighbours canoed up to the Botley Road shops and brought us back provisions."

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Oxford?

I came to Oxford in 2005 when my husband took up his post as Headmaster of Christ Church Cathedral School. Although I was a trained Dyslexic Therapist I didn't want to teach straight away so, armed with my husband's old Fuji camera, I walked through the streets of the city and by the river, taking photographs.

I had always previously left photography to my husband, as he had an excellent eye, but now I saw things in a different light through the lens and I was captivated.

What to you are the most iconic aspects of Oxford?

I think the most iconic aspect of Oxford is its sense of tradition.The old meets the new but these ancient rituals are never lost. I remember the first time I watched the unfolding of Encaenia: colourful robes, mainly red, and glittering maces seen winding their way around the Radcliffe Camera towards the Sheldonian....wonderful.

That and dining at high table in Christ Church and Worcester College, with grace said in latin and college silver adorning the tables, are top of my iconic list.

What are your favourite haunts around the city?

My favourite haunt is the Isis. I love it, especially as the dawn arrives and the mist blends with the first gentle rays of the sun. Watching the rowers practise up and down the river at this time is magic.

I love the gargoyles and grotesques that adorn the buildings. Some days I go for walks just to look up and see new things that in my haste before I have missed.

The Cathedral also has a treasured place in my heart. It has a tranquility that enables you to take time out to reflect amid the bustle of everyday life. Early morning prayers, Evensong or no service at all just make you feel that it is a special place.

Where do you eat and drink?

Eating is a bit of a trial because I have a strict medical diet but The Randolph Hotel is wonderful and caters for me with imagination. The new Acanthus restaurant with its deep green walls and spaciousness is lovely.

The Fishes at Hinksey is also a favourite with really fun and caring staff.

One of the places I used to frequent was The Big Bang, sadly no longer a restaurant, Oxford's loss and Adelaide's gain as Max Mason, who owned it, has gone to sunnier climes.

My favourite pubs are The Turl, The Perch, nestling by the river at Binsey, and The Eagle and Child. One day I will purchase an Illustration of the Pubs of Oxford and colour them in as I do the biggest pub crawl ever.

What about Oxford has inspired you or helped your creative process?

I think the biggest inspiration in my creative process was and is light. It changes and with the changes come different shapes and aspects. As a photographer it is fascinating: walking through Tom Quad or along Broad Street you suddenly see a doorway or carving which hitherto had been hidden, but a shaft of light from a different angle just captured it, new and exciting for the first time.

Doorways became my passion for a while and then the famous faces. I began my photographic career not knowing an 'f stop' from a bus stop but with help from other photographers and watching and learning I have progressed up the ladder.

My first outing to capture famous faces dropped me right in the deep end: Sebastian Faulks followed closely by Philip Pullman and Julian Barnes. A baptism of fire, but I loved it.

What’s the worst or least attractive thing about Oxford?

Walking down some of the streets in Oxford I am appalled at the modern monstrosities, dare I say mainly 60's and 70's, that jar with the grace and splendour of an older architecture. It just doesn't work. The 60's and 70's work together, just! but not with other styles.

But I love the colleges and the stone of the older buildings which is warm and not made of cold concrete.

Do you have an area, street or village in Oxfordshire that is special to you?

I love the village of Binsey. It is close to the city of Oxford and yet it has the gentle tranquility of the countryside. The village has a deep sense of camaraderie and this was put to the test in the floods of December 2013 and January 2014.

We were marooned with no easy access in or out. One of our neighbours canoed up to the Botley Road shops and brought us back provisions.

The highlight of the year is the Binsey Fete which raises a great deal of money for local charities and the church. All the villagers pull together and create a wonderful family day out.

 

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