School commissions public sculpture

The trend for site-specific artworks sees the unveiling of Transition Point by sculptor Simon Hitchens at a Cambridge school

The public work of art was commissioned by The Leys independent school in Cambridge, through Commission Projects, to celebrate the opening of the newly completed Great Hall, a major building project giving the school a new performing arts centre and additional science facility.

Transition Point is formed from two boulder-like standing stones, one faced in mirror-polished steel, the other in highly-polished black granite, placed in opposition to each other. 

Inspired by the scientific concept of states of change – a moment in time when an entity changes from one state to another – and its school location, Transition Point symbolises the transition pupils undergo as they pass through their education in the school, while also allowing pupils and staff a moment of reflection.

Commenting on the project, Martin Priestley, headmaster at The Leys, said: “I see this as an enhancement of every aspect of school life – academic, artistic, scientific, and pastoral, and as a piece of art which will, in due course, become an iconic image in the minds of Leysians as they move through school and on through life.’

Simon Hitchens believes public art can make a difference to a place, and was drawn to creating a unique site-specific installation at The Leys that would be thought provoking and become a point of reference within the school community. 

The mirrored faces hold the reflections of those who stand between the two halves. Hitchens explained: “You can view your own duplicated reflection as an act of unifying these two separated yet codependent bodies, the catalyst making the transition complete, a balance of essential opposites.  It can also be viewed in terms of opposites – male/female, body/soul, nature/man-made, science/art.” 

Great Hall is The Leys science and performing arts centre and houses an assembly hall, theatre, drama department, dance studio, three new science laboratories and Balgarnie’s café – named after W.H. Balgarnie, a Classics master at the school in the early 1900s, whose claim to fame is as the main model for Mr Chips in James Hilton’s novel ‘Good-Bye Mr Chips’. 

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