Thursday, 13 September 2012

Chapman dinosaurs in Jesus College

Walking among dinosaurs in Jesus College

I came across the dinosaur group in Jesus College on a sunny autumn day.  There are three of them:  an iconic Tyrannosaurus Rex, a grinning stegosaurus and a third one that I couldn't identify. 

They stand directly on the lawn of what is Library Court.  They are sculptures but they are not on a pedestal.  And they are a group.  This has a decided impact on how we look at them.  In fact, I didn't so much look at them as move among them.  My impression of the group changed as I walked back and forth and round about.  And the sculptures do not only interact with the visitor and with each other but also with their environment.  See how their shapes echo and play with the shapes of nearby nature and architecture?

I'm not sure what counts as life-size for dinosaurs but these beasts are certainly larger than human-size.  You can see them from afar but you can also approach them close up.  One of the joys of open-air sculpture is that you can touch and crouch and look up at it from odd angles.  And as with every sculpture, the best part comes from walking around it and seeing how it changes with the shifting perspective.

Experience them with more senses than sight.  Touch them: their flanks are rough and smooth at the same time; warm in the sun, cold in the shade.  Knock on their sides and listen to the sound.  You can even smell them (would be interesting to try on a rainy day).

They are made of cor-ten steel, a kind of steel that forms a rusty coat.  Up close, the material reminds me of construction sites and steampunk factories.  They are like industrial ruins and so evoke thoughts of time passing and extinction.

A plastic label proclaims the dinosaurs to be by Britart brats Jake and Dinos Chapman which came as a surprise to me!  But I was not reminded of the Chapman brothers' perverse and cruel installations.  Instead, I thought of  palaeontology museumsdinosaur attractions, and of Richard Serra's huge rusty steel sculptures

What do these dinosaurs make you think of?

What and were:
Jake and Dinos ChapmanThe Meek Shall Inherit the Earth (But Not the Mineral Rights), 2007, cor-ten steel 
Where: Library Court, Jesus College, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, UK

Update 2014:  Please note that the Chapman dinosaurs are no longer in Cambridge!  It was only ever a temporary affair.  So great while it lasted...!

More Cambridge dinosaurs here:
Dinosaur art at the Sedgwick Museum

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