Lights Out On 800 Letdown

The 800 celebrations came to an end yesterday, but not everyone was dazzled.

800 cambridge anniversary graffiti King's College lightshow vandals

Hundreds braved the cold to watch a light show over King’s College and Senate House last night.

The 3-day show, called ‘Transforming Tomorrow’ and produced by Ross Ashton, was the finale of Cambridge University’s 800th anniversary celebrations.

Queues of up to 20 minutes formed behind police barricades to follow a pre-set path through Senate House, along Senate Passage into Kings College.

The image projections include buff blues sportsmen alongside PhD thesis titles, skeletons and animated fish, “blurring the boundaries” between the arts and sciences, according to the show blurb.

The Gibbs Building and King’s Chapel played host to galaxies, nebulas, embryos and multi-coloured fruit flies.

Unusually, an advert for Barclays, ‘The University’s bankers’, was sandwiched between an image of the atom and double helix.

Not everyone was impressed, – the demonic choir soundtrack and dramatic laser show reduced at least one child to fearful whimpers.

However, Deputy vice-chancellor and Chair of the 800th Anniversary Committee, Professor Jeremy Sanders remained chirpy in the "exuberant" atmosphere. "There were lots of families. It's been very informal and friendly – it was lovely” he said.

Sanders said of the show: “It looks at how Cambridge transforms the world through the ideas it produces….from the transformative thinking of great Cambridge philosophers, poets and artists; to the groundbreaking work of its many Nobel Prize winners… from the establishment of the fundamentals of physics to the discovery of the structure of DNA;”

To mark the occasion, four central Cambridge churches were among those worldwide to play a piece composed by Clare College alumnus Phil Earis.

However, University spokesmen are said to be disappointed with the numbers of students in attendance.

This follows a number of underwhelming events throughout 2009, including a staff only garden party in May Week and a collection of virtually unadvertised and disjointed exhibitions, shows and lectures.

“Surely the University should be celebrating the future of the institution; the students, rather than roping in a load of media attention” said Kirsty Sim, a Trinity graduate student.

Vandals, thought to be students, recently exploited the 800th celebrations by graffiting the King’s Parade mural by Downing College alumnus and former Children Laureate, Quentin Blake.

“Climate Change = Extinction” was written and ‘800 years’ was replaced with ‘C02’ in the catchphrase ‘800 years transforming tomorrow’

Seems not everyone was dazzled by the lights.