Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Artistic For The People


Meet 'Ceres', the ancient Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility, from whom we get the English word 'cereal'. She stood outside Foster's Flour Mill in Cambridge - or so I'm told, though somehow I never noticed in all the many times I must have walked past! Then when the area began to be redeveloped she disappeared and I didn't notice that either. How that happened I can't imagine - I mean, she's big enough! 

She's been away for a face-lift and now she's back. That I did notice. Old photos show her standing on a sphere which is what the original commission called for, but now she seems to be standing in a brick box which looks ridiculous. The redevelopment of the area is still taking place so maybe this is not yet the finished item.

'2 Of One'

I was wandering along minding my own business when something bright and reflective made me turn to look into the entrance to a modern building. After I'd walked by on about a dozen separate occasions I plucked up courage to go in and ask if I could take a photograph. "Yes, of course you can", said the man behind the desk and he also told me that the artist was Danny Lane and I should Google him - which was odd as the building was Microsoft Research.

The artist works with unlikely materials including iron girders or, in this case, large sheets of glass. Like the man said it's worth Googling Danny Lane. And there's a wonderful time-lapse video here of '2 of One' being constructed.

'DNA Double Helix'

This sculpture in Clare College celebrates the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA by Crick, Watson, Wilkins and Franklin in 1953. The sculpture, by Charles Jencks, was donated to the college by Professor James Watson, who was a student at Clare, and must be one of the few instances where someone has paid for a monument to celebrate their own achievement!

'Between The Lines'

This huge incised granite boulder stands next to a modern shopping development in Cambridge and is by Peter Randall-Page. For a long time the shot above was the best I could manage. I'd tried taking photos in the evening, when the sculpture was illuminated by lights set in the ground, but that didn't seem to work either. Then the other day I noticed something different about the piece, something so ordinary but which made the boulder look so different - one of the bulbs lighting the scene had blown and there was also a light drizzle falling. Somehow it makes all the difference...


...or the Corpus Christi clock.

Again there are problems in photographing the thing but in this case it's only finding a time when it's not completely surrounded by tourists ogling it. It's a sculpture rather than a timepiece as we shall see. On top (and a part of the mechanism) is what's usually described as a grasshopper which moves and appears to be voraciously devouring the seconds as they tick by - so surely it's a locust, isn't it? From time to time it blinks as if in appreciation of it's meal. 

Time does not pass evenly on this curious clock; if you watch the pendulum it seems to be speeding up, slowing down and sticking. Well, time seems to do that, doesn't it? So the clock is only absolutely accurate once every 5 minutes.

The time is displayed not by hands but by LED lights which shine through slots in the clock face - you can just about see them in the photo. The whole thing was conceived and funded by John Taylor who calls it "Chronophage" which translates as "time-eater", everyone else in Cambridge calls it "The Corpus Christi clock", Except for students at Corpus Christi college who have dubbed it "Rosalind".

The clock should run accurately for at least 200 years, though in practice it stopped several times in the first month!

...and finally...

Just a photo of part of an advertising hoarding and a passer by. Call it "Woman Meets Superwoman", if you like!

Take care.


  1. My award goes to the granite boulder. I like that and you captured the ideal image at the right time.

  2. What great public art -- Cambridge seems to have an abundance. I do like the rock -- its strength and ancient look. I like all of it really, a little indifferent on the "Woman Meets Superwoman" :)) -- barbara

  3. I see I'm not the only one who loves that boulder, you caught it at the perfect time indeed. I quite like the Woman Meets Superwoman too - a bit of departure from the other images!:)

  4. Fascinating, John. The glass sculpture at the Microsoft building (where you were told to google [!!!] the sculptor) is mesmerizing, as are the non-clock and the boulder. And, hey, Lulu, to each his or her own, but I like the contrast of the leaping advertisement and the standing girl.

  5. I fear that modern art does very little for me but I do like Ceres and the Corpus Christie clock - I hope Ceres gets something better than her brick box eventually , it doesn't exactly do a lot for the stature does it? :)

  6. well that was informative John! A Greek goddess to be acclaimed for our 'cereal'. Maybe there's a foot of concrete keeping her well-bedded inside of that brick enclosure. Danny Lane's glass is quite a feature. I quite like Between the Lines and the way it is surrounded by the Birch? trees. I can imagine in the springtime when the leaves colour up it would like very pretty.

  7. Woman does not appear to be impressed by Superwoman. Ceres in the box could be some sort of subliminal advertising scheme for Kellogg's. ;) I very much like the Corpus Christi clock.

  8. Some great pieces of art for people to enjoy. The clock is fascinating.

  9. For some reason this post seems like a travelog. First photo: Mexico, 2&3: Arctic, 4: Germany,
    5&6: Papua New Guinea or Easter Island, 7: India (vicious looking locust) and finally the last one: England.

  10. She looks like a North American Indian x

  11. I like that last one--what contrast. Ceres is pretty cool too, but the brick base is all wrong, as you say. I remember that clock. A right large bit of steampunkery!

  12. Quite a collection! Liked the last one for some reason, and Ceres is stunning. Totally agree about the brick plinth - what were they thinking?!


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