Arts & Culture

Sculptures of animals, fish and vegetables at Oxford’s Covered Market

By Cait Sweeney at

If you find yourself in the city centre take a trip to Oxford’s covered market and look up to the Victorian vaulted ceiling to see an array of farmyard animals, fish and vegetables.

The 16 sculptures made from papier-mâché and fabric include owls, goats, carrots, melons, fish, sheep and pigs.

The artwork was created by more than 40 community volunteers and led by theatre designer and textile artist Bettina Reeves from Peak, an arts organisation based in the Welsh Black Mountains, as part of the Abergavenny Food Festival.

The sculptures were installed in the Covered Market by independent outdoor event company Village Designs in July and have been rented by Oxford City Council throughout August.
The aim of the project is to bring art, culture and fun into the Covered Market inviting visitors to look up at the market’s striking 18th century vaulted ceiling.

Over recent weeks, a series of Banksy-style art pieces were installed at the Covered Market to raise awareness for endangered animals, and characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland visited the market as part of the Story Museum’s annual Alice’s Day celebrations.

Oxford City Council is investing £1.6m into the Covered Market over four years, this will include repairs and redecoration to the roof, and making improvements to the service yard. The work started last year.

The Covered Market, which first opened in the 1774, features more than 50 traders selling food, gifts, shoes, fashion, flowers and jewellery, and provides a unique showcase for the very best in local crafts, food and drink.

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Executive Board Member for Culture and City Centre, said: “We want to use the Covered Market as an exhibition space for culture and the arts to enhance the building, encourage more people to visit and, most importantly, to buy some of the many high-quality goods on offer.

“These fantastic, community-created sculptures introduce a sense of fun to the Covered Market, not just creating photo opportunities for visitors but also helping to show off the market’s striking vaulted ceiling.

“Over the coming weeks and months we intend to bring a programme of events and installations into the historic building.”

To find out more about the covered market visit:

Photos taken by Cait Sweeney :