Over the past ten months, OCA Programme Leader Caroline Wright has been Artist in Residence at the Cambridge Judge Business School. The School is part of Cambridge University and is located in Trumpington Street in a building that dates from the 18th Century that was originally used as a hospital. In1995, the building was re-imagined by architect John Outram who brought his very individual and opulent style to bear on the space. His quite extraordinary work is now accompanied by a new construction which opened in November 2017 by architects Stanton Williams. Caroline’s commission was awarded through the context of Section106 funding. This ensures that a percentage of the budget for new construction projects on public buildings is available for new artwork, enforced through planning regulations.
Caroline has made a series of paintings that depict abstracted details from the new and old buildings of the School. Made using the ancient and fast drying medium of egg tempera, the works examine the difference of the two spaces. As part of the commission, Caroline invited staff and students from the school to respond to her work and their experiences of the School in writing. The result can be found in an accompanying catalogue which includes writing from seven participants that expands, explores and re-imagines the work on show through narrative, poetry and descriptive text. A selection of these texts will be set to plainsong and performed at the opening of the exhibition.
On her first visit to Cambridge, Caroline was fascinated by how we read a building when we are confronted by an overwhelming array of colour, pattern and form. She describes her first view of the interior as:
A cartography of surges, swellings and colourful emotion where seeing was unwittingly choreographed, play here, rest there, dance here, hide there. Sometimes we pay attention to unexpected things; persistent circular indents revealing a luxurious palette; vibrant terrazzo; an architectural map of green sea and red islands. The paintings are the consequence of a visceral reaction to the interiors of Cambridge Judge Business School. Positioned in-between architectural space and interior adornment, the small works make their own attempt at redecoration, presenting the building back to itself. Being somewhere does not guarantee understanding. An artwork can hold our attention, it breathes with us, it has agency. Combine the two and we might discover new knowledge in the familiar.
The exhibition opens on 30 November 2017 and runs until spring 2018 (exact date tbc). It is open to the public on weekdays from 9am to 5pm. Visitors are welcome, but as the School is usually closed to the public, please ask at reception to be directed to the work.