Quentin Blake unveils mural at Addenbrooke's
28 September, 2009
The much-loved illustrator Quentin Blake has unveiled a 70-foot-long mural at Addenbrooke's that depicts famous alumni from the University of Cambridge.
The epic work, called Cambridge 800; An Informal Panorama, includes portraits of Oliver Cromwell, John Milton and Charles Darwin. It is located on the Addenbrooke's Art Walk, on the main corridor near the C&D lifts.
Mr Blake, who is a graduate of Downing College and best known for his wonderful illustrations of Roald Dahl's children's books, donated the work to Addenbrooke's to mark the university's 800th anniversary. Each of the 15 images can also be viewed for free on its website.
> University of Cambridge celebrates 800 years
An audio slideshow of the panorama can be viewed on the BBC news website:
Quentin Blake said: "To me, this is a way of saying thank-you for my years as an undergraduate and the honorary degree that the University also gave me. I feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity to contribute to these 800th anniversary celebrations."
Damian Hebron, Arts Co-ordinator with Addenbrooke's Arts, said: "I didn't have to think twice before saying 'yes' when these canvases were offered for display at Addenbrooke's. Quentin Blake's work is so recognisable and universally loved that I am sure they will bring a lot of joy to patients and visitors of all ages.
"Art at the hospital can make a real difference to how it feels to be there and these paintings are a great addition to the range of art on display at Addenbrooke's."
Described as "Cambridge's answer to the Bayeux Tapestry", the mural consists of 15 original drawings depicting different episodes from the University's history.
Beginning with its foundation in 1209, the panorama traces the story of the University's development through the lives of some of its greatest figures.
Scientists, poets, authors, politicians and royalty are all depicted in Blake's playful signature style, familiar from dozens of children's books. An irritable-looking Henry VIII listens to the choir of King's College Chapel, Charles Darwin sits reading on top of a giant Galapagos tortoise, while Byron leans on the bear he is reputed to have kept while resident at Trinity College, surrounded by female admirers.
The panorama also references less well-known names and incidents from the University's history. The creation of a definitive set of rules for football, which took place at Cambridge in 1848, is portrayed, while the archaeologist Dorothy Garrod – the first female professor at either Cambridge or Oxford – is seen digging Anglo-Saxon bones up in the grounds of Newnham College.
Rosalind Franklin, the often forgotten Cambridge scholar whose X-Ray diffusion images proved vital to the discovery of DNA, deservedly receives equal billing alongside Francis Watson and James Crick.
The unveiling of the panorama was attended by the University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alison Richard, senior members of the University, Dr Mary Archer, Dr Gareth Goodier and directors of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, as well as numerous media representatives.