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22nd May 2012

Mercurial sculpture in Front Quad

A sculpture by Max Mulvany (2009, Fine Art) is throwing new light on the Front Quad. The mirrored sculpture is called Mercurial (Only Shallow).

The sculpture has been attracting a lot of interest and many questions. Explaining the artwork, Max said “Mercurial (Only Shallow) is a minimalist work mostly about reflections and inferiority complexes – bouncing attention away from the sculpture itself, and onto the things that surround it: the sky, lights and encompassing architecture.

“The title of this work draws a link to a similar pool of water within Christ Church’s ‘Mob Quad’ named Mercury, so archetypically ‘Oxford’ that it makes it into Waugh’s Brideshead RevisitedMercurial (Only Shallow) masquerades as a similar type of ornamental pool; its reflective surfaces indulge gleefully in the lavish surroundings and through its calculated central positioning upon the quad it brazenly references historical associations with landscaped grandeur. However, seated temporarily with no regard for the ancient sanctity of this off-limits grass it is an alien element within the landscape, an intruder and a pretender to the pretensions of the mythological Oxford ideal. It is also anti-climactically shallow – not much of a pool and not much of a mirror either, a conscious inferiority which the second element of the title references. Being ‘only shallow’ it may also be a tongue-in-cheek pre-emptive take upon the public’s general impression of contemporary art as lacking in any depth.”

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