Friday, 4 September 2009

Hidden art and desecrated graves in Cambridge



It was a big mistake getting off at Elizabeth Way bridge with a camera last Saturday, as my original intention was just to visit the bank and Waterstones. Instead, I stood captivated by the murals in the Underpass and decided to see what other interesting Art I could find by meandering through the backstreets of Cambridge..
My first find was the Cricketer's Arms in Melbourne Place. Windows on the first floor sported three pictures of first, a Cambridge United footballer, a cricketer and an Irish Rugby player. Chatting to the publican Martin Hyde, who was delighted in the interest, I discovered the following.
The pictures had been designed by the pupils of nearby Parkside school as part of a competition set up by Martin to convert the ugly blacked out windows into something a lot more interesting. A teacher then converted the ideas into scaled up paintings in emulsion.
On my way to Mill Road to see Martin's other pub, the Earl of Beaconsfield and Disraeli painted as a leprechaun, I discovered Mill Road Cemetery.
With graves predominantly from the 1880s to early 1900's, it was a peaceful picture of genteel neglect in the glorious sunshine of the day. A number of the monuments were broken and there was evidence of vandals desecrating tombs and gravestones both from the distant past and extremely recently. Poignant WWI memorials were scatted with the bodies of the young who died, including one in 1918 close to the end of the war and another at Paschendale. The delightful find was the memorial to John Reynolds, who ran the telegraph coach from London to Cambridge back in the 19th century.
Just before Kingston Street, I asked two ladies if they were aware of any interesting art or signage nearby. None they could remember, and yet within 50 yards I found the wonderfully decorated 80 Kingston Street. Chatting to Claire, who just happened to be at a window, i discovered that this was the home of the women's Paradise Housing Cooperative, colloquially know as housing “The Birds of Paradise”.
Taking time and looking around, I found the leprechaun, Mill Road bridge mural and many other artwork and signs, where a little imagination had created a small but positive impression on their environment in Cambridge.
Click on the slideshow to be taken to the Picasa album with captions to the pictures.
(Oh yes, and despite wandering around for 4 and a half hours, I did get to Waterstones and the bank too.)

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