Nemon Studio Museum set up for 1940s ‘Dancing with Shadows’

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Visiting Nemon Studio Museum & Wild Garden.

The Nemon Studio Museum is open from 2 to 6.30 for free drop-in visits with complimentary tea or coffee and light refreshments, on approximately the last Saturday of every month, with the option of donating towards the upkeep of the centre. The first Saturday will be 29 April, followed by 27 May, 24 June, 29 July and 30 September. Click on this link to go straight to booking and scroll through the calendar to find your date and time. If the slot you would like is taken, please email me at as I may be able to fit you in if there are only one or two people in the existing booking.

Nemon lived and sculpted here from the 1940s until his death in 1985. Famous for his portraits of Churchill and Freud, and originally from Yugoslavia, now Croatia, Nemon came to Britain as an émigré, and then Jewish refugee, in the 1930s. The Nemon Studio Museum is surrounded by trees and fields off a quiet lane on Boars Hill, twenty minutes drive from the centre of Oxford. The Studio hosts a re-creation of Nemon’s working studio, where you can learn how sculptures are made and cast.

For 2023, Dancing with Shadows explores Nemon’s first full decade in Britain when he defined his mature style as a sculptor. Staging exhibitions in London and Oxford, and fire-watching during the war years, Nemon also became a husband and father.  Meanwhile, in Yugoslavia, twenty-four of his relatives were murdered in the Holocaust. Combining the political and the personal, the exhibition brings together a selection of key portraits which Nemon made during the 1940s, along with background materials to these works including historic records of his meetings with his sitters. 

Celia Cook, Studying History at St Annes, 1941.

The Nemon Archive is sited in an extension to Nemon’s former home, Pleasant Land. This dramatic, modernist house rises between the trees of its wild garden. The Archive displays and stores drawings, reliefs, correspondence and other materials, as well as those works which do not form part of the current themed Studio exhibition.

Hand cast resin and bronze resin busts of Churchill, Freud, Montgomery and Winnicott are on sale to raise funds for the upkeep of Nemon’s works, along with a selection of bronze medals re-cast from 1930s originals. Parking is available on site. The Nemon Studio Museum is accessible to disabled visitors, and the Archive has a single step. Please raise any queries regarding access beforehand.

The visit to the Nemon Studio Museum will be divided into two sections, both with short explanatory talks recorded by curator and family member Alice Hiller. Alice will also be on hand to welcome guests and answer questions. One section explores Nemon’s creative process, and how his works were made in the studio. The other looks at his work of the 1940s.

You can then enjoy teas, coffee and cake, including gluten free and vegan options, in either the separate Nemon Archive, where there are comfortable chairs and sofas, or outdoors the garden. Most visitors spend around two hours at Pleasant Land.
Address: Nemon Studio Museum, Pleasant Land, The Ridgeway, Boars Hill, Oxford OX1 5EY.

Nemon Studio Museum, Pleasant Land, Boars Hill.

Hermann Fiedler with Oscar Nemon, Oxford 1940s

Busts by Nemon at Pleasant Land Studios
Busts by Nemon at Pleasant Land Studios

Getting there: For visitors without cars, there is no longer public transport to Boars Hill, but taxis can be booked from Oxford or Abingdon costing approximately £20.  Visitors can equally walk up from the bus stop in Wootton village, which takes approximately 30 minutes.

‘flowers cut down’ memorial.

See also photos from the Croatian embassy’s visit to Pleasant Land.