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I wanted to introduce free play between lawn and library, earth and knowledge

A commanding sculpture by renowned artist Antony Gormley has been installed opposite the iconic Wren Library on Trinity’s historic Backs as part of celebrations to mark the 700th anniversary of the College’s early foundations.

Antony Gormley. © Stephen White

This year Trinity has celebrated the 1317 founding of the King’s Hall, one of two Medieval Colleges later merged by Henry VIII to form Trinity, with a conference, concerts and an exhibition. Now it is the turn of an acclaimed British sculptor to make his mark on Trinity – where he studied in the late 1960s.

‘It’s quite something to have such an important work by Antony Gormley in an iconic Cambridge location on the 700th anniversary of Trinity’s origins,’ said Dr Joe Moshenska, Fellow in English, who together with Dr Emma Widdis, Reader in Russian Studies, proposed the idea of a modern sculpture in College grounds.

Dr Moshenska said: ‘This remarkable piece will literally create new perspectives from which the College can be viewed.  Exhibiting it for a year allows us to continue energising Trinity as a physical space, even as we reflect on our illustrious past. Antony’s close connections to Trinity make his work the ideal means by which to animate a famous part of the Cambridge scenery in an entirely new way.’

Dr Widdis said: ‘Of course, Trinity has wonderful collections of art from its historic past. We are excited now to be looking to the future by exhibiting this important piece of modern sculpture.’

The Vice-Master of Trinity, Professor Grae Worster, welcomed the advent of modern art at the College. ‘This is an exciting new venture for the College and we welcome visitors to enjoy with us this first piece of modern art on Trinity’s Backs.’

The work, FREE OBJECT, is part of the artist’s cast iron ‘Blockwork’ series, which began in 2005. It is the largest blockwork to date, at 2.5 times life-size and weighing over 10 tonnes. It was cast in Spheroidal Graphite Iron at Shakespeare Foundry in Preston, the last remaining foundry in the UK capable of casting a work of this scale.

Antony Gormley said: ‘I wanted to introduce free play between lawn and library, earth and knowledge.’

Antony Gormley read History of Art at Trinity between 1968 and 1971. He is an Honorary Fellow of the College. FREE OBJECT is the first work by the artist to be sited at Trinity. Other works at Cambridge include Daze IV, (2014), Sidgwick site; Plant (2002), McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research; Learning To See VI (1995), Jesus College; and the bronze maquette for the Angel of the North on the staircase of the Fitzwilliam Museum.

FREE OBJECT will be at Trinity until October 2018. The work can be viewed by the public, 9am-5pm, daily. Access to the Backs is via Garret Hostel Lane or the Gate on the Avenue, off Queen’s Road. Please note that there is no access to the Backs for visitors entering Trinity through Great Gate.

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