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Installation of new sculpture on campus

colour photograph of component part of Sculpture Floating Garden

Artists Ben Cain and Tina Gverović have created a sculpture for the University, inspired by its history, research interests and communities, and in response to the theme of ‘library’. The sculpture, called Floating Garden, incorporates waste materials, and will be installed in the new library quad on the Whiteknights campus.

These materials have been mixed with other aggregates and binding materials to form solid forms. The different types of waste material have been selected and gathered to represent the waste generated on campus. They are part of the 2580kg of waste that the University generates per day, of which just over 50% is recycled or re-used. All but 1% of the remaining waste is sent for energy recovery. The plastics included as aggregate within this sculpture represent a small fraction of this amount.

Ben and Tina said:

“We wanted the sculpture to sit within the environment of the campus and reflected on the innovative use of concrete, modular construction and surface quality of the URS building. This is reflected in the sculpture using limecrete (an ecologically more sound alternative to concrete) and creating separate parts which can be imagined as building blocks. As well as this it is a sort of archive where you encounter different materials, as you do in the nearby Library.

“We used a process that you might think of as reverse archaeology where we took waste plastic and set this into the limecrete. This creates a record of the waste materials and makes them more visible, encourages people to come to terms with them and how they are produced, consumed and discarded in the environment. When possible, we hope to come back onto the campus and create collaborations with student between departments to use the sculpture as a display space too.”

Ben and Tina are internationally recognised artists with 20 years’ experience of commissions, including Croatian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, Busan Biennale (South Korea), Wiels (Brussels), Tate Modern, Manifesta 09 (Genk, Belgium).

John Gibbs, Chair of the University’s Art Strategy Group, said:

“I’m really excited about this new sculpture that invites us to have a conversation addressing global challenges. It brings artistic, scientific and other cultural perspectives into dialogue – which is one of the most important features of universities. It not only a sculpture but a space which responds to our campus and allows us to interact with contemporary issues.”

This sculpture is one of a number of initiatives across the University that develop relationships between colleagues, students, the local community and local and international artists, enabling the University to act as a cultural leader in the region.

As well as engaging current members of the University, building this legacy will encourage alumni to remain in the area, and enrich Reading and other local communities, which in turn will make the University and town an increasingly attractive location, for prospective students, creative organisations and other enterprises.


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