University of Cambridge Museums

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From porcelain to concrete poetry – all in a visit to Art at the ARB

The Alison Richard Building (ARB) was opened in 2012 to house the University’s Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), the Centre of African Studies, the Centre of Development Studies, the Centre of Latin American Studies and the Centre of South Asian Studies. The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) is also based in the building. The design of the ARB was carefully conceived to blend with the existing architecture of the Sidgwick Site and to provide opportunities for academic interaction and interdisciplinary collaboration.

The University of Cambridge commissioned artist and writer Edmund de Waal to create artworks for permanent display at the building. His installation ‘A Local History’ comprises three vitrines containing porcelain vessels and shards sunk below the paving at the front of the building as well as a wall hung vitrine within one of the open interior spaces.

“All these vitrines are a kind of archive. They record my thinking about the history of porcelain, my travels, my love of fragments, my obsession with shadows, my reading. They are for this particular place – a threshold into a building, and a threshold into a site full of libraries and archives, and the people who care about libraries and archives.”

Edmund de Waal

Inspired by de Waal’s installation, a handful of staff and academics – some of whom are artists, photographers and potters themselves – founded the ‘ARB public art committee’ with the view to making use of the building’s contemporary open spaces for art exhibitions. The art committee is now well established, putting on four exhibitions per year and attracting interest from local as well as UK and international artists.

Art at the ARB is quickly establishing itself as a further contemporary exhibition space and attraction for the visual arts in Cambridge, showing a great variety of art work and media. Some exhibitions stand in their own right, others are thematically linked to a resident area centre or form part of academic research and conferences taking place in the building.

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Currently the ARB is showing Social Commentary; an exhibition by artist Mohammed Djazmi based on his experiences of social and political life in his native Iran, and 52 Days to Timbuktu; works by tapestry artist Tim Oelman which are inspired by the signs and symbols of pre-classical woven art of Morocco and the architecture of Mali and Burkina Faso. These two exhibitions will run until Friday 12 December 2014 and are open to visitors on weekdays from 9-5pm and occasionally on evenings and weekends.

Recently opened has the special exhibition a token of concrete affection, based at the ARB’s Centre of Latin American Studies. This archival exhibition curated by Bronaċ Ferran, is shows a collection of rarely seen works from the collection of art historian Stephen Bann, and is based on the close exchange of ideas and works between Cambridge and Brazilian poets during the 1960s. The opening of this intimate exhibition coincides with celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the ‘1st International Exhibition of Concrete, Kinetic and Phonic Poetry’ which opened at St Catharine’s College Cambridge on 28 November 1964. This exhibition will run until 1 March 2015 and is by appointment only, please contact Julie Coimbra if you wish to visit.

‘a token of concrete affection’ is linked to two further exhibitions taking place in Cambridge: Beauty and Revolution: The Poetry and Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay, curated by Stephen Bann at Kettle’s Yard from 6 December 2014, and Graphic Constellations: Visual poetry and the Properties of Space, curated by Bronaċ Ferran and Will Hill at the Ruskin Gallery from 22 January 2015.

For further information on Art at the ARB visit the website and for enquiries contact Judith Weik.

Judith Weik, Chair, ARB public art committee

Art at the ARB
Alison Richard Building
7 West Road

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This entry was posted on December 11, 2014 by in News and tagged , .
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