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Cambridge City Council

Residents asked for views on River Cam public work of art

9 February 2022

RESIDENTS are being asked for their views on a new work of public art that is proposed for the River Cam ‘Mill Pond’ in Cambridge, as part of the To The River project.

Cambridge City Council appointed artist Caroline Wright to lead the large public art commission to celebrate and promote the story of the River Cam and how it has shaped the city of Cambridge.

As artist in residence Caroline has run a programme of events and activities to give local people the opportunity to participate creatively in the project.

She has talked to residents, businesses and those who actively use or have an interest in the river to ask their views on how the Cam defines Cambridge’s character and its influence in shaping the city’s social, environmental and historical connections.

Caroline has developed several live, participatory projects including ‘Knit for the River’ and ‘Flow’.

The proposed new work of art will be the culmination of the project and is set to be located on the bank of the river at Mill Pond.

The work will see an undulating golden wave flowing in, out and over the riverbank.

It will be etched with a Cambridge Lace pattern, paying homage to the female influences on the river; from the anonymous laundresses who gave nearby Laundress Green its name, to the specific lace pattern used on Cambridge University gowns, to the artist Gwen Raverat (1885-1957 grand-daughter of Charles Darwin), who etched artworks from her vantage point overlooking this site. 

Consultation at https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations/to-the-river-public-art-consultation runs until 6 March. Comments can also be submitted by email: publicart@cambridge.gov.uk

Drawings showing the proposed art work will be on display at Cambridge Central Library until 11 February.

Tomorrow (10 February) Caroline will be on hand in the library to talk about the project.

Cllr Anna Smith, Leader of the Council and Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “As our artist in residence, Caroline has carried out a varied programme of work and events to inspire a conversation about the river and its setting.

“She has gathered testimony from many people about what the river means to them and its importance to Cambridge.

“Those conversations have helped to shape the proposed final piece of art which will be a celebration of the River Cam and the immeasurable role it has in our city. I’m especially excited to see the way in which this piece of art seeks to pay tribute to the almost forgotten women who worked so hard as laundresses in this part of the city.

“I encourage everyone to take a look at what is proposed and give us their views.”

Caroline Wright said: “After delays due to the pandemic, I am delighted that To The River has reached the stage where ideas and learning from the public engagement have come together to inform the public art commission for the River Cam.

“This week sees drawings of the work published for public consultation and is a significant milestone for the project.

“The work will be sited in a prominent central Cambridge location where it can be seen by local residents and visitors to the city and I hope it will become a landmark that celebrates the place of the river in Cambridge.”

The project is overseen by a Steering Group comprising of representatives from the council, the Museum of Cambridge, the Cam Conservators and individuals with public art expertise.

The commission is being funded by Public Art S106 contributions from developers, which have been negotiated specifically for public art and cannot be used for anything else.

For more information on the background to the project visit https://totheriver.info/