2018 marks the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) as the UKs aerial peacekeeping and fighting force. Focusing on the daring exploits and ingenuity of aviation pioneer Geoffrey De Havilland, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, leader of the Dambusters raid, celebrated aviators Louis Strange and Adrian Warburton and legendary RAF flying ace Douglas Bader, this exhibition uses rare archive photography, as well as largely unseen private papers to celebrate the 100th anniversary year. The Dambusters and Beyond runs at Oxfords North Wall Arts Centre
from 20 June until 17 July and admission is free.
The vital roles played by women also feature, from their significant contribution to the espionage activities of the Special Operations Executive in the Second World War to their role in the Air Transport Auxiliary, including flying planes from factories to the squadrons of the RAF.
Geoffrey De Havilland, Guy Gibson, Douglas Bader, Louis Strange and Adrian Warburton were all pupils at St Edwards School Oxford, and the school will be lending previously unseen archive material to the exhibition. Through the featured individuals, the exhibition will illuminate key aspects of the RAFs history and development, including early aviation innovations, the Dambusters raid, the Battle of Britain, iconic aircraft, Alec Cranswick and the Path Finder Force and the Jet Age.
The exhibition features material from the Archives of the Imperial War Museums, St Edwards School, and the photographic agency TopFoto. It is curated by Dr Simon Innes-Robbins, Senior Curator at the Imperial War Museum.
The award-winning North Wall Arts Centre at St Edwards School, Oxford, opened ten years ago. Its public programme attracts over 20,000 visitors a year to more than 100 performances and exhibitions. Alongside its programming, The North Wall produces new plays, programmes work by early-career arts professionals and hosts free, residential arts placements for emerging young artists from all over the country. As well as being home for pupil drama, art and dance activities, it has extended its vision and reach well beyond the School to develop an innovative arts venue for Oxford and a well-established national touring venue for the best contemporary theatre and performance in the UK.