Odds and quads

The Oracle by Reg Butler is one of five original works in the University of Hertfordshire’s art collection.

April 4, 2013

The 1952 work was originally intended to grace the entrance hall of Hatfield Technical College, an institution that opened in 1953 designed largely to train mechanical and aeronautical engineers.

The college became Hatfield Polytechnic in 1969, which merged with the Hertfordshire College of Art and Design and eventually acquired university status in 1992.

Butler (1913-81) was a leading English sculptor of his day, with many of his works still held by Tate Britain in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Although inspired by the theme of flight, The Oracle is a striking mixture of the animal and the industrial, the prehistoric and the futuristic.

The celebrated art critic Lawrence Alloway described it as “an ambiguous and violent image, compounded of parts of a jet aircraft and organic forms which evoke a pterodactyl”.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy