The work of the computer scientist Alan Turing is at last commemorated at Kings College, where he studied from 1931 to 1934. The celebrated artist Antony Gormley, well-known for his standing figures, including the ‘Angel of the North’, gained the commission several years ago, but it has taken four years of campaigning to secure planning permission and the funding for the project. Historic England had objected to its installation because it would detract from the surrounding buildings of the ancient college. However, with the support of the Cambridge City Council, the project eventually went ahead.
At last, this contemporary sculpture was recently installed near the college library in a large paved area between the Gibb’s Building and Webb’s Court. Although this is generally a private place, it will be available to the public on special occasions.
Titled ‘True’, Gormley’s version is of an abstract standing man 12 feet high. It is made of 19 Corten steel slabs which are currently dark grey in colour. However, as the steel cast contains 1% copper, it will gradually oxidise to a rusty patination to be more sympathetic to its surroundings.
There are several other Turing sculptures created by various artists in British towns and universities. The first, by Stephen Kettle, was rightly placed at Bletchley Park where Turing’s code-breaking skills took place during the Second World War. Industrial sculptor Glyn Hughes created the one at Manchester University. It depicts a lifelike work of Turing seated on a bench near the university buildings in Sackville Park, while the one by John W Mills shows him strolling across the Surry University Campus holding a pile of books.