SETTING-OUT is the title of a new Landmark public artwork for Cambridge.
This artwork comprises a single monumental mason's compass cast in Bronze which is frozen in the act of drawing out a stone spiral. It is sited beside and is seen from the main rail line to London and will act as a Gateway sculpture.
Accessed at the end of Harrison Drive off Hills rd the artwork celebrates the work of Rattee and Kett, the famous Cambridge restoration company whose old site has been developed. The title of the sculpture comes from the use of the masons’ compass in setting-out the drawings and templates for the fine stone work carried out by the craftsmen who used to work for Rattee and Kett. The name also resonates with the nearby railway on which we set out on our journeys.
The spiral base is made of natural Yorkstone and shows the setting-out of the spiral or ‘Volute’, this shape would be required at Rattee and Kett when stone capitals were to be hand carved.
The Volute comprises an arrangement of compass arcs that form the elegant spiral so often used in classical architecture and seen to great effect in the stone Ionic column capitals at the entrance to Emmanuel college and the Corinthian capitals above the entrance to the Fitzwilliam museum.
The spiral continues into the landscape to integrate it to the surrounding park in a meaningful way.
The compass sculpture has three main references. Firstly it makes a strong statement about the former use of the site as a centre of hand crafted stone excellence that has kept the Cambridge Colleges looking their best over the years.
The work also refers to Newton, the star Alumni of Cambridge University who was often depicted holding a compass as he mapped the movement of planets by artists such as William Blake and by Eduardo Paolozzi in his statue to Newton outside the British Library.
Lastly the compass is also such an elegant and familiar tool that has been used for thousands of years.