There they are, at the bottom of a spiral staircase: three dung beetles.
They are large and dark and arranged in a triangular pattern. They have antennae and six spindly, spiny legs. Their folded wings are a striped carapace. The rest of their armour is pebbled with a seed-grain texture that contrasts with their smooth faces. (Can you call them faces?)
They are a group of sculptures (much like the Chapman brothers' dinosaurs at Jesus College). They are not on a plinth.
They seem a bit menacing, half abstract design, half sinister creepy-crawly. They are much larger than any beetle has the right to be.
But they are also fun, lurking in the basement, and not everybody finds them creepy. Ruth Allwood is the catering manager at Murray Edwards College where the beetles live, and she says:
"My favourite pieces of artwork are the bronze beetles at the bottom of the Dome staircase. [...] I always pat one of them as I go past." (Read the rest at the New Hall website.)
Wendy Taylor made the bronze beetles in 2000 and donated them to the New Hall Art Collection. This was not the first time Taylor sculpted dung beetles. Here are some she did for London Zoo:
Dung Beetles, 1999, London Zoo
Another of her beetles was stolen in 2005/06 along with 20 other bronzes around London.
Cambridge has one other sculpture by Taylor; this one doesn't look like a beetle at all:
Jester, 1994, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Source: Reggie's photo blog
Title: Three Dung Beetles
Artist: Wendy Taylor
What: Bronze sculpturehttp://artincambridge.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/dung-beetles-at-new-hall.html