Sunday, 3 August 2014

Sculpture Vulture

As I mentioned in an earlier post Cambridge has more than its fair share of public sculpture. And the more you look the more you see.

The Black Horse

The Black Horse, as most British readers will be aware, is the symbol of Lloyds Bank. And, while most branches of the bank are content with a plastic illuminated sign outside their premises, the otherwise rather ugly modern building that houses Lloyds Cambridge has this rather fine statue high on its reinforced concrete wall. It is the work of Tessa Pullan, one of the country's leading sculptors of animals. It is officially known as "Untitled".


The gardens of Emmanuel College in Cambridge are such a pleasant place to wander that the addition of a large piece of sculpture hardly seems necessary. However the college authorities are so hospitable to works of art that they have found room even here. Ones initial response is to wonder how such a huge piece of bronze is balanced so precariously upon the grass - solid foundations must be the answer. But then there is something so carefree and humorous about it that the name "Jester" seems to make perfect sense. It also, from this angle at least, looks like a laughing set of lips.
The artist is Wendy Taylor who, in addition to large abstract pieces also creates minutely detailed wildlife sculptures.

Mysterious Piece

This astonishing piece (the workman in the photo looks astonished anyway!), is at the entrance to The Varsity Hotel And Spa. And that's about all I can tell you about it.


"The oval is the concept of evolution, the triangle the young Darwin and the open square the world at large. These forms find a balance between openness and enclosure. All forms are closed shapes that have been cut and pulled sideways to form the beginnings of a coil. The square may also be described as an open window and the rocks behind are the landscape or nature."

That's what the sculptor, Phillip King, has to say about his work which stands in the New Court of Christ's College, where Darwin was a student.

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose

Sitting quietly and thoughtfully amongst the shrubbery at Christ's College is the physicist, biologist, archaeologist and science fiction writer Jagadish Chandra Bose, who studied at the college in the 1880s. As a scientist he might have been more famous had he patented his many inventions and shouted more loudly about his discoveries. The artist is Biman Das. 

Construction In Aluminium

Standing as it does at the entrance to the University's Engineering Department this work has always intrigued me - it must be something to do with engineering but what is it exactly. According Kenneth Martin, the artist who conceived it, it represents the formula for a helical screw propeller. Well, I never would have guessed. The actual construction of the piece was carried out with the assistance of the Department's workshops.

Bas Relief In Stone

I remember seeing this when I was very little. It stands near to the house of Mrs Wayman whom we always visited on our way to feed the ducks at the Botanic Gardens. It has an added dimension to me as I've seen it change over the years as the stone from which it's made has weathered. At the moment it seems to have richer tones than ever. On the right is a rather rough rendition of the University's coat of arms while the other odd marks are symbols from the weird world of alchemy. Of course I didn't know any of that when I was five.

Reflective Editor

A fairly recent addition to the scene standing outside the Microsoft Research offices. From a photographic point of view it looks ideal for framing something but, at least till the rest of the development is finished, it frames nothing but some very uninspiring views. If things improve you can be sure I'll let you know. 

A Sheep!

Two of these appealing creatures have made an unexpected and unexplained appearance outside some offices in Hills Road. The seem to be tethered with steel cables and hefty padlocks which might seem excessive for such mild beasts. However towards the end of the summer term the learned scholars of this university town are sometimes transformed into desperate and reckless criminals; without the hardened steel security these gentle beasts might fall into the hands of mutton rustlers and find themselves grazing atop one of the college buildings. 

Take care.


  1. The Jester is wonderful, - an immediate connection and you can see him in his entirety! And I was also impressed with Sir Bose. Great to grow up with that kind of sculpture John, - in Penticton they had a nude statue, wearing a hat and carrying a suitcase, and stationed at a round-about - somehow not too inspiring.

  2. So much art, free for the looking, in Cambridge. Would that more cities took note and modeled their landscaping and streetscaping to include such works. Great post. I am so curious about those sheep. Maybe they're supposed to eat the grass, although being concrete that would be a bit tricky.

    1. I want to be passing when the man cutting the grass has to manhandle the sheep out of the way of his mower!

  3. The Miata seems to be a perfect addition to Engineering sculpture. And the driver looks very professorial.

  4. I absolutely loved the bronze John. It is such a happy sculpture and oddly, was moved by the dynamism of the engineering one. This is so much better than the mandatory 2% art on German public buildings.

  5. Of them all John, I like the bas relief in stone best.

  6. I think I'd like to see Jester. And the sculpture of Bose seems to have captured some life somehow - though I've no idea how accurate it is. A good, motley, collection!

  7. A splendid series of sculptures John. At first I thought the horse was my favorite but then I looked at the Mysterious Piece. I still can't decide, they are all very nice works of art.

  8. I enjoyed this eclectic collection of sculpture. I very much like the Jester and Mysterious Piece.

  9. Did anyone else notice that the horse had horns? Oh hang on, on closer inspection they might be 'pricked up ears' :) J'adore the Jester, and wonder how many can resist pressing 'the mysterious piece' .. I'm happy you explained 'construction in aluminum' .. art can be weird and mysterious I guess that's what makes it so thrilling!

  10. Really like this, especially the Bas Relief in Stone. I love sculptures and anything artistic out in the open where it can be accessed by anyone. Cool post! - Tasha xxx

  11. The Jester is so lively and fun- how can you not smile looking at it? The stone bas relief has wonderful colour to it. I like the engineering one, too. Mechanical stuff can be beautiful too. And what's not to like about the wee sheep.

  12. Thanks for all your contributions. I seem to be roughly in agreement with your particular favourites.

  13. Quite an interesting collection. I'm partial to the sheep!


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