After nearly two years’ absence Warwick Arts Centre's iconic White Koan was reinstalled in the new landscape at the entrance to Warwick Arts Centre on Tuesday 18 May.
Created by artist Liliane Lijn, the Koan is an important sculpture of the early 1970s. Its name is a pun on the Buddhist concept of a "koan" - a device for contemplation, a question to which there is no answer. It also recalls some of the key interests of artists working at this time in its references to Greek culture and the cones of white ash that households created to symbolise the Greek Goddess of the hearth, Hestia.
The White Koan has been beloved by generations of Warwick students. It is at the centre of some of the campus' urban myths - that it stood over the tunnel which allowed senior staff to escape from their neighbouring headquarters, that it was the nose cone of a failed Apollo mission, or, indeed, that someone lived in it. There has been a University society called the Koan Society and, in the early 90s it was the subject of a strip cartoon by Steve Shipway that not only recalled the affection that the students felt for the sculpture, but gave the Koan its own, student-like identity.
The Koan was removed as part of the £8 million redevelopment of the Butterworth Hall in 2008. The Butterworth Hall and its new extension reopened in Autumn 2009. This year the area at the front of Warwick Arts Centre has been landscaped and the Koan will be positioned a few metres right of its original position, but still in its rightful place signifying the entrance to Warwick Arts Centre.