Press Release: First artists-in-residence for North West Cambridge development appointed

11 April 2013 By

3 April 2013

Over the next 20 years Cambridge University will undertake the greatest planned expansion in its 800-year history. ‘North West Cambridge’, an urban extension to the city of Cambridge, will be a sustainable, high quality development that aims to cultivate a mixed academic and urban community.

The Contemporary Art Society and InSite Arts are working in partnership as art advisors on the project, and are collaborating with the University of Cambridge to develop a Public Art Strategy for North West Cambridge. The strategy will deliver a public art programme that centres on a thorough understanding of place, developing a distinctive identity and unique voice for North West Cambridge and setting a standard for public art that has the potential to be a benchmark for best practice, both nationally and internationally. Public engagement is central to the art strategy: this will support the development by creating dynamic community experiences and providing encounters with the artworks.

The backbone of the Public Art Strategy is the Artist-in-Residence programme, which will run throughout the duration of the development. The programme will encourage collaboration between artists and university departments relevant to the lifecycle of the project. Three artists will be appointed each year to explore how contemporary art can offer opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange, engage existing and new audiences and how artists can help to create a sense of ‘place’ as North West Cambridge develops.

In this pivotal first year, three artists have been appointed to work on the North West Cambridge site as it is transformed from farmland owned by the university to a new community. The artists are:

  • Hannah Rickards (working with the Earth Sciences Department)
  • Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie (working with the Archaeology Department)
  • Tania Kovats (working with the Astronomy Department)

The artists will be among the first people to live on the North West Cambridge site. Their residencies will result in a range of outcomes which might include exhibitions, events, art installations, talks and workshops. Information about forthcoming events will be released at

For further information on the North West Cambridge development and public art strategy, contact:

Helen Nisbet (Art Consultant, Contemporary Art Society) on ++44 (0)20 7017 8408 or

Sarah Collicot (Director, InSite Arts) at

For press enquiries, contact:
Jenny Prytherch (Communications Manager, Contemporary Art Society) on +44 (0)20 7017 8412 or

Artists are available for comment and interview. Please contact Jenny Prytherch for further details.


Encouraging an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art by a wide audience and donating works by important and new artists to museums and public galleries across the UK.
The Contemporary Art Society is a national charity that encourages an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art in the UK. With the help of our members and supporters we raise funds to purchase works by new artists which we give to museums and public galleries where they are enjoyed by a national audience; we broker significant and rare works of art by important artists of the twentieth century for public collections through our networks of patrons and private collectors; we establish relationships to commission artworks and promote contemporary art in public spaces; and we devise programmes of displays, artist talks and educational events. Since 1910 we have donated over 8,000 works to museums and public galleries – from Bacon, Freud, Hepworth and Moore in their day through to the influential artists of our own times – championing new talent, supporting curators, and encouraging philanthropy and collecting in the UK.


The Contemporary Art Society’s Consultancy team offers independent and expert advice on public art commissioning and cultural strategy and develop outstanding contemporary art collections for companies and private individuals.
With over 30 years of experience in commissioning, curating and project management, our skill is in understanding each client’s needs and creating visionary linkages to the best in contemporary art. We advise on corporate and private collections internationally and our recent public art projects include major commissions for the Olympic Park, public art strategies for Camden Town, the University of Cambridge and the Waterways Trust.


InSite Arts is an independent art consultancy commissioning unique site specific and site responsive art works. Our work has been founded on our constant desire and commitment to understanding the impact that the arts can have on people’s everyday lives. InSite Arts work in partnership with our clients, design and delivery teams and key stakeholders to generate and deliver innovative and relevant public art and arts initiatives in diversity of scales and in a wide variety of media.

Artworks we have commissioned range from temporary events, to permanent installations, from the more intimately scaled art projects through to major landmark installations integrated into the public realm and architecture projects.
At the heart of our work is our endless commitment to commissioning artwork which will inspire and become a fundamental part of a successful building, scheme or development; which has drawn inspiration from a thorough understanding location, the potential ‘audience’, history and aspirations.


The North West Cambridge development is the most significant capital project that the University of Cambridge has undertaken in its 800-year history. Outline planning permission was granted in August 2012 for the scheme, subject to various legal conditions and reserved matters applications, on the 150-hectare site of university farmland situated in between Huntingdon and Madingley roads and the M11.
The masterplan includes 3,000 homes (50% available for University key-worker housing), 2,000 student spaces, 100,000 sqm of research space, a local centre and community facilities including a primary school, nursery, doctors’ surgery, supermarket and retail units, as well as all of the site-infrastructure and landscaping for the scheme. The development has been created as an extension to the city with an urban rather than suburban grain and will be of the highest design quality as well as being an exemplar of sustainable living.


Hannah Rickards (working with the Earth Sciences Department)

Hannah Rickards (b. 1979) was born in London where she lives and works. Utilising video, sound and text, her work attempts to translate the natural phenomena of the world into a formalised language. Previous works have explored the verbal descriptions of the sound of the Northern Lights and accounts of images seen as a result of mirages on the Great Lakes. Rickards received the esteemed Max Mara Art Prize for Women in conjunction with the Whitechapel Gallery in 2007-2009. She has exhibited at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; ICA, London; Witte de With, Rotterdam; and at the South London Gallery. She is also a lecturer at Central St. Martins, where she received a BA in Fine Art in 2002.

Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie (working with the Archaeology Department)

Nina Pope (b. 1968) and Karen Guthrie (b. 1970) live and work in London and the Lake District respectively. After studying together at Edinburgh College of Art, they completed MAs in London and began working together in 1995. In 2001 they formalised their collaboration as the not-for-profit arts practice Somewhere, which spans public art and filmmaking. Their early career was marked by technological innovation combined with a socially-engaged and inclusive sensibility. They received the inaugural Northern Art Prize in 2008 and have exhibited widely, including the Science Museum, The Wellcome Trust and the Barbican Art Gallery, and their films have been commissioned by the BBC and Channel 4.

Tania Kovats (working with the Astronomy Department)

Tania Kovats (b. 1966) has exhibited work about the experience and understanding of landscape since the early 1990s. She has an MA from the Royal College of Art and a BA in Fine Art from Newcastle Polytechnic. Kovats’ work often addresses the role of landscape in national identity, particularly through sculptures and drawings which expose the formative histories of an area. She was awarded the Henry Moore Drawing Fellowship in 2004 and was a Visiting Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Oxford University in 2006. Her installation ‘Tree’ was selected from nine other short–listed artists for the Darwin’s Canopy project at the Natural History Museum, and was commissioned to celebrate Darwin’s bicentenary in 2009. She has presented her work in many exhibitions in the UK and internationally, including solo exhibitions at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2002 and Newlyn Art