From the earliest days of the University's existence, works of art have been seen as an essential part of the built environment. The intention has been to enhance the surroundings of those who daily study and work here, to give food for thought and to provoke debate. Sculptures were included from the outset, some permanently installed in carefully selected sites in the University grounds, others in appropriate indoor locations.
The early acquisitions are contemporaneous with the first buildings and represent the aesthetic ethos of the time; subsequent purchases similarly reflect changing ideas and styles. The works by Azaz, Pye and Schottlander echo aspects of avant garde art in the 1960's when colour and space became paramount issues and the distinction between painting and sculpture less distinct. Op Mobile No.10 by Azaz is a painterly work which through kinetic rather than optical means, explores the changing effects of different colour juxtapositions. The reflections in Pye's nickel-plated steel Spring Sixty-Seven add to the ambiguity about the space occupied by the sculpture and the viewer while Schottlander's 3B Series 1 uses vivid colour to highlight the statement made by its grouped sections of industrial metal.
Industrial materials and construction techniques are used in several other works, including two 1970s pieces, White Koan by Liliane Lijn and Grown in the Field by Avtarjeet Dhanjal. In the former case, neon light and an electric motor provide the kinetic elements while the Dhanjal relies on the wind for subtle degrees of movement. In contrast, Let's Not Be Stupid by Richard Deacon is monumentally static. The site was chosen by the artist and the sculpture conceived not only to relate to its immediate spatial context but also to make a statement, or at least provoke speculation, about the purpose of the institution and its activities.
The collection also contains several works produced through more traditional craft techniques using stone, wood or cast bronze. One of these is Flayed Stone III by Peter Randall-Page. The origin of the artist's vocabulary lies in organic forms which he feels have an expressive quality and it is this he seeks to convey in this large granite boulder, carved with rhythmic patterns.