BBC JOURNALIST FEATURES IN OXFORD DIVERSITY PROJECT

Reeta Chakrabarti
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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.

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