Matthew Darbyshire’s new sculpture “Hercules meets Galatea”, outside Cambridge North stationSerge Isman

A Moo-vellous new sculpture at the Grand Arcade

Students at St Mary’s School have decorated a cow sculpture - named “Miss Mary Moo” - that is now on display at the Grand Arcade shopping centre.

The piece is one of 47 “Mini Moo” sculptures decorated at local schools, colleges, and community centres that were installed across Cambridge on Wednesday (16/06) as part of the “Cows about Cambridge” project.

This initiative will see a further 90 life-size cow sculptures, each designed by a local artist, appear across the town from June 28th.

“Miss Mary Moo” is named after Mary Ward, founder of St Mary’s School, and is colourfully decorated with a rainbow pattern and symbols representing different subjects.

Head of Visual Art at St Mary’s, Ms Conroy, said: “Public art is such an important way of bringing communities together and getting people to be part of a collective experience [...] we can’t wait to see how the public reacts to Miss Mary Moo”.

Another Dinky Door for Cambridge

A Dinky Door appeared at the junction of Sedgwick Street and St Philips Road on Monday night (14/06), joining the 10 existing pieces of miniature street art already adorning the streets of Cambridge.

The new design centres on a bollard - redecorated as a red-and-white lighthouse - beneath which a giant octopus emerges from the gravel beside a small cabin bearing a sign that says “Octo Spa”.

Another signpost lists a number of “experiences” on offer, including what promises to be a rather tentacular “exfoliation bath”.

The Dinky Doors are the work of a team of local artists wanting to offer “an antidote to the seemingly endless terrible news that we’re inundated with on a daily basis”. Their first piece was unveiled in 2018.

Bunions then and now

Archaeologists at the University of Cambridge have found that a vogue for pointy-toed shoes in the 1300s caused a plague of bunions among Cambridge’s more affluent citizens.

A bunion, or hallux valgus, is a deformity of the foot in which the big toe angles outwards while a bony protrusion forms at its base or on the inside of the foot; wearing constricting shoes such as high heels is the condition’s most common contemporary cause.

The researchers found that 27% of skeletons buried between 1300 and 1400 had bunions, a 21% increase on those dating from between the 11th and 13th centuries.

This increase correlates with a new fashion for pointy-toed shoes, or poulaine, beginning in the 13th century.

Of skeletons buried in the 14th century, those buried in the city centre or the friary were between 20% and 40% more likely to have a bunion than those buried in rural cemeteries, suggesting that wealthy urbanites and the clergy were paying more for their shoes in more ways than one.

Dr Jenna Dittmar, who led the project, said: “We think of bunions as being a modern problem but this work shows it was actually one of the more common conditions to have affected medieval adults”.

Hercules meets Galatea at Cambridge North

A sculpture by artist Matthew Darbyshire entitled “Hercules meets Galatea” was unveiled outside Cambridge North station this week.

In Greco-Roman mythology, Galatea is an ivory statue of a woman that Aphrodite brings to life after its sculptor becomes smitten with it, while Hercules is the divine hero renowned for his strength and far-ranging adventures.

The sculpture seeks to subvert the viewer’s expectations by presenting Galatea as the “strong, dynamic and empowered figure challenging Hercules who [...] appear[s] rigid and dated”.

This is reflected in how Darbyshire executed the figures: Galatea was created digitally, making her look polished, while Hercules was hand-sculpted by cutting sheets of polystyrene with a bread knife, giving him a crudely uneven finish.

Darbyshire said: “This work is about sculpture in the 21st century and asks which attributes elicit spirit, potency and charge - is it scale, symbol, surface, material, maker or manufacture? Hercules Meets Galatea uses new motifs, making methods and materials to celebrate the classical whilst also acknowledging the contemporary connotations of its immediate surroundings.”