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Residents from OSJCT’s 23 care homes and extra care housing schemes in Oxfordshire inspire life-size ox sculpture

Care home residents across Oxfordshire are getting hands-on with decorating a life-size ox sculpture as part of Oxtrail, a free major public art installation in Oxford set to attract 500,000 visitors this summer.  The huge installation, featuring a herd of 31 life-sized ox sculptures, is being brought to the county by Sobell House Hospice with Wild in Art.

The Orders of St John Care Trust’s collective entry, ‘The Power of Hands’, was selected from among 300 artist submissions.  Unlike other sculptures in the installation that will be painted by professional artists, OSJCT’s ox will be decorated, literally by hand, by residents living in one of the not-for-profit care provider’s 17 care homes and 6 extra care housing schemes in Oxfordshire.  Each handprint in the artwork will be unique and tell the individual story of a resident.  The hands bear the marks of a life well lived and wisdom; they speak of comforting touch and loving care.  They symbolise diversity, spirituality, friendship, unity.  They tell individual stories, but also celebrate the power of hands to connect people. 

The team at Longlands, OSJCT’s care home in Blackbird Leys, Oxford, has created a temporary painting studio where residents in sister homes and schemes across the county can visit to add their own handprints to the sculpture.  Megan Palmer, Activities Co-ordinator at OSJCT Longlands said: “Evidence shows that participation in arts and crafts can support the health and wellbeing of older people, and the massive Oxtrail public art installation is a unique opportunity to take this important activity to the next level!  It’s also a fun and meaningful way to bring residents and colleagues from all over the county together.”

Franka Toglia, who lives at OSJCT Longlands, was among the first care home residents to make her mark on the sculpture.  She said: “The ox is amazing.  I had so much fun with my friends, putting our handprints on it.”

Deborah Balchin, Art Project & Logistics Lead (OxTrail 2024) & Legacy Fundraiser at Sobell House Hospice, said: “We were bowled over by the artist submission from The Orders of St John Care Trust and can’t wait to reveal the charity’s full design when the trail launches in July.”

OSJCT’s ox will be on display across Oxford along with the rest of the Oxtrail herd from 6 July to 29 August and then auctioned off in September to raise funds for Sobell House Hospice.

The Orders of St John Care Trust is a not-for-profit charity offering loving, compassionate care across Oxfordshire and nearby counties.  The full list of OSJCT homes and extra care housing schemes due to participate in Oxtrail includes: Chilterns Court Care Centre, Henry Cornish Care Centre, Isis House, Lake House, Langford View, Larkrise, Longlands, Madley Park House, Marston Court, Meadowcroft, Old Station House, Spencer Court, Stirlings, The Meadows, Townsend House, Wellford Gardens, Westgate House, Centurion House, Isis Court, Mayott House, Moorside Place, Orchard Meadows and Shotover View.

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