CB1 – the new city quarter for Cambridge


17 June 2022

Gavin Turk mythical sculpture “Ariadne Wrapped” unveiled

Inspired by surrealist artistic methodologies and the ‘myth’ of the artist, sculpture by renowned artist Gavin Turk depicts Greek Goddess Ariadne as an exploration of a classical figure that invites the audience inside a larger metaphysical maze.

Today (17th June 2022), contemporary sculptor Gavin Turk has unveiled a new artwork at the heart of the CB1 development in central Cambridge. The sculpture, named ‘Ariadne Wrapped’, is positioned outside of the city’s main station and is described by the artist as an “out-of-focus classical form” that plays against the colonnades of the station itself.

Ariadne Wrapped depicts the mythical character of Ariadne, who in Greek mythology allegedly helped Theseus escape the Labyrinth and the Minotaur, and was then taken to Naxos and abandoned there by Theseus. At first glance, Turk’s work shows an object hidden in a dust sheet and bound with rope. The cloth however forms a key part of the artwork, with Ariadne packaged up suggesting a constant state of transportation, accompanied by the bustle of passing trains as the figure remains stationary. The contrasting criss-cross ropes represent navigation lines, referencing new perspectives.

The shape of the covered object suggests the heroine, Ariadne in a reclining classical pose, with her arms thrown over her head, a posture of abandonment. Through this depiction, Turk explores the themes of value, how we look at the world and the male gaze.

Turk cites Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico – known for his surrealist works often picturing a white colonnade and a piazza – as an inspiration for the sculpture of Ariadne whose reclining figure is located in front of a set arches at the station building. The use of playful trompe l’oeil and the ambiguity of the sculpture juxtaposed against the vibrant public square leaves the viewer questioning its meaning.

As a wrapped work, Turk’s piece reminds the viewer of artworks by artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude; iconic for their large-scale landmark installations often wrapped in fabric. This concept of wrapping artwork deceives the eye. Turk was inspired by this idea, and we encounter Ariadne as a figure metaphorically wrapped in history, context and time.

Sven Topel, Chief Executive at Brookgate, said:

“Unveiling Gavin’s sculpture marks an important milestone for CB1, bringing art to the centre of the station’s public realm to create a truly welcoming entry point to the city. Public art forms a key element in the wider Cambridge community and we’re pleased to play a part in contributing to this rich culture and art scene in Cambridge.”

Gavin Turk said:

“Ariadne Wrapped has made a reality of something which I dreamt up, through looking at a painting, which is a painting of a dream.


“This most recent work outside Cambridge Station brings together many different themes from my work, developing what I see as a metaphysical landscape, which incorporates other works I have made. Including a 12 metre Nail opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, a giant plug, in a plug hole in Paddington Basin and a number of larger-than-life doors, hanging in frames (most recently L’âge d’Or was sited outside the Museum of Migration in Rotterdam).”

Developer Brookgate commissioned Ariadne Wrapped as a commitment to investing in culture along with the ongoing delivery of the CB1 Estate. The artwork installation originated through a series of proposals and consultations with a steering group including the local community and forms part of a series of artworks at the CB1 Estate.

In summer 2018, Gavin Turk hosted the ‘Metaphysical Cyclist’ tours, partnering with Cambridge-born artist Adam Dant on three public bicycle rides for the local community. The rides, which used a fleet of colourful, Turk-designed striped bicycles, encouraged everyone in Cambridge to see the public art that surrounds them every day with fresh eyes. Later this year, The Heong Gallery in Cambridge will showcase an exhibition of Turk’s work, exploring the artist’s interest in waste, consumerism as well as the historical references the piece is inspired by.


Photography: Phil Mynott


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