Published: Thursday, 20 August 2020

Whether it’s Tolkien’s maps of Middle Earth or Lyra’s map in His Dark Materials, Oxford’s famous real and literary residents have always delighted in creating maps to highlight their favourite spots.

Now Oxford City Council is asking residents to do the same by drawing, painting or otherwise creating a map of Oxford city centre that showcases their favourite places.

This could be a favourite restaurant or shop, the most beautiful tree in Oxford, or a moment in time, such as a first date or a particularly magical May Morning.

Alternatively, residents could be inspired by Lewis Carroll and use a map of Oxford city centre as the basis to create a fictitious world filled with grinning cats and tardy rabbits.

The overall best map will win a £100 gift hamper from Oxford Covered Market, and will have their creation professionally framed by Covered Arts to hang on their wall at home. The second and third place runners-up will have their map mounted by Covered Arts.

The under 12s winner will get their map design turned into a cake by The Cake Shop in Oxford Covered Market.

Everyone aged 11 or under who enters the competition will be able to pick up a free treasure map from Blackwell’s Bookshop in Broad Street.

The treasure map highlights some of the best spots for children in Oxford city centre, and provides vouchers for a 15% discount at Blackwell’s and a free trip on the City Sightseeing Oxford open-top bus tour.

The City Council also plans to hold an exhibition featuring the best maps in Oxford city centre later this year.

The competition, called ‘Oxford – My Treasure Island’, is part of the City Council and Oxford Mail’s Rediscover Oxford campaign, which aims to encourage people to revisit Oxford city centre.                                                

Oxford – My Treasure Island

People can download a simplified map of Oxford city centre – which they can draw or paint over, or use as the basis for their own creation.

People do not have to submit a drawing or painting. Their personal map of Oxford city centre could be a photo montage, writing, a 3D sculpture or a film.

The only criteria for the competition is that your map must highlight your favourite places in Oxford city centre – but we highly recommend that you give explanations as to why they have chosen each of the locations.

The maps will be judged by a panel of local experts, including representatives from Oxford’s cultural attractions, based on how evocative and emotive the map is, and the map’s visual attractiveness.

To enter the competition, visit the Rediscover Oxford website and submit a picture of your map. Anyone can enter, including individuals, a family, housemates, a group, a business, or a local band.

People must get their entrees in before Monday 5 October. The winners will then be announced on Monday 12 October.

Treasure map for under 12s

Under 12s can pick up a free treasure map from Blackwell’s Bookshop in Broad Street from next week (24/8).

Instructions on how to pick up the prize will be provided when children submit their entry.

The treasure map, which has been created by local children’s illustrator and artist Sarah Hoyle, will include:

  • A 15% discount on a single transaction at Blackwell’s Bookstore
  • A free tour for one child aged 11 or under on the City Sightseeing Oxford open-top bus tour

The City Sightseeing voucher comes with the following terms and conditions:

  • The voucher is valid until Friday 4 September
  • The child claiming the offer must be accompanied by an adult
  • Adults and other individuals joining the child with the free tour voucher will be required to pay a full fare – unless they are in possession of a valid Oxford Mail voucher (and can prove Oxford residents, as per the Oxford Mail voucher’s terms and conditions)

“As well as the architecture, parks, museums and shops, Oxford city centre is the inspiration for countless novels and a place where people are on the cusp of great leaps in scientific understanding. It truly is a magical place.

“But for my money, the best spots in Oxford city centre include walking through Queen’s Lane from the Bridge of Sighs, crossing Magdalen Bridge from East Oxford on the top deck of an Oxford bus, and buying fresh food and flowers in the Covered Market.

“We want to know your favourite places, whether that’s your favourite quiet spot in University Parks, the best hidden shop in the city, or the location of a first date. Enter the competition and let your thoughts and feelings about Oxford city centre run wild.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Oxford City Council Cabinet Member for City Centre, Covered Market and Culture

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