I rated all the weird statues on the Uni of York campus
Coming from someone who knows nothing about art
As a uni of York student, you’ve undoubtedly seen a few weird statues around campus. Whether you like them or you think they’re a complete atrocity, they’re a fundamental part of campus life. So here is a complete list, along with my personal (objectively correct) opinion and rating of them all:
Beyond and Within: 8/10
Location: Outside Wentworth reception
Off to a strong start, it may just go downhill from here. Here have this statue that is most definitely giving slight hunger games cornucopia vibes. It’s essentially a gramophone-looking-megaphone, with a hole through the middle that genuinely amplifies your voice if you talk into it (although this might get you some funny looks from other students). This real-world functionality combined with its beautifully shaped curves earns this statue some extra points, and so I’ve given it a solid 8/10. Good start.
Location: On the ramp leading up to the library, opposite Nisa
I have entirely mixed emotions about this one. It is kind of cute and definitely looks a bit like an avocado, so that earns it some points. However, the colour is kind of ugly, and I can’t figure out if the actual name is Untitled or if the artist just skipped the naming process, but they aren’t the main issues I have with it.
For the most part, you’re likely to see this statue on one of two occasions: either going to the library or leaving it. On the way home, it’s either a nice reminder that you’ve done some hard work or a sign that you’ve just spent a couple of hours procrastinating. On the way there, it is, as a friend described to me, a “herald of hard times” – a sign that you’re about to spend a miserable time doing actual uni work. This means I can’t give this too high of a rating, so we’re going with a 5/10, appropriately reflecting my feelings towards it.
The singing stone: 2/10
Location: Outside the music department
I’m just going to say, straight off the bat, I don’t like this one. First of all, it’s really just a gigantic stone. (This was the same reaction I had to Stonehenge when my parents took me at the age of 8, so maybe I just have a hatred towards big rocks.) It’s also unnecessarily large and obnoxious. The main reason I despise this statue though is the text around the outside. Not the text itself, necessarily, but you CAN’T READ IT. WHAT IS THE POINT?? That’s why this is getting a 2/10 (higher than a one – there’s worse to come I promise).
Rail sculpture: 7/10
Location: James college, opposite N block (RIP)
This one is quite attractive, although the title implied that there was going to be a train, so it’s slightly disappointing. It also might need some restoration soon, as it is in fact starting to go rusty. Despite this, I do like the design, the wheels are fun. However, it does scare me a little bit. It feels like it does something like if you pull a lever it’ll blow something up. Maybe N block. What a shame. 7/10.
Tears of St Lawrence: 1/10
Location: Halifax, St Lawrence Court
I’m harbouring a lot of hatred towards this. I heard there was a statue in Halifax, so I walked alllllll the way there, just to not be able to find it, and then to realise it was on top of a roof. It looks like a glorified weather vane, not a statue. And it doesn’t even have the functionality of a weather vane. It sucks. 1/10
Meditation on Exhaustion: 6/10
Location: Next to Central Hall
I’ve heard many mixed reviews about this one – who knew a statue could cause so much controversy? Some say it looks like a pile of scrap metal, which is a fair assessment. I don’t really understand the point of it, and the name Meditation on Exhaustion scares me a little. Maybe someone was too exhausted to carry their scrap metal all the way to the dump, so they just left it here. On the other hand, I think it looks a bit like a mini golf course, which obviously earns it some bonus points. 6/10.
Buddha in Lotus Position: 9/10
Location: The alley between Spring Lane and Berrick Saul
This statue would get a perfect score from me if it was located literally anywhere else. The eerie passageway behind Berrick Saul makes for quite possibly the most terrifying experience (other than maybe Popworld) – if you’ve ever walked down there in the dark you’ll understand. Just walking along, minding your own business, and then suddenly this face appears out of the darkness. Other than the jumpscare potential, this statue is fantastic, and his hut can even provide functionality as refuge from the rain. 9/10.
Totem IV, Figural Amplification: 1/10
Location: Across a small bridge near Derwent
This statue has the same energy as those emergency phones that you get on the side of a motorway. And it’s not even orange, and it will not help you in an emergency. It’s ugly, and I don’t like it. On top of this, why is it called number four? Where are the other three? It’s ugly and confusing. 1/10.
These random mushrooms: 10/10
Location: Dotted around campus
I’ll admit these are most definitely not proper art or official uni statues. But I thought they were adorable and didn’t deserve to be left out of this article. Very cute, 10/10.
Location: Behind Heslington Hall
Fun fact for you all, a dryad, according to Google, is “a nymph or nature spirit who lives in trees and takes the form of a beautiful young woman”. You mean to tell me that this is a statue of a woman?? I guess I can see the head and legs, but I honestly think I would have enjoyed this statue more if you’d told me it was a broken spade or something. Lovely location, less lovely statue. 4/10.
Location: Next to the Quiet Place, behind Heslington Hall
As a York student, you need to learn to love the enormous population of ducks and geese. Yes they’re kind of scary, and yes they get in the way when you’re trying to get to lectures, and yes you might be woken up by the sound of geese mating sometimes. But, as a key part of the lives of York students, it only makes sense that there is a statue dedicated to them, resulting in a strong 9/10 for this one. This rating might also be slightly biased thanks to this adorable photo of my parents and my grandma.
Concrete Panels: 1/10
Location: Derwent College
I really don’t think these count as a statue, but I’m putting them here anyway. I don’t like the Derwent buildings as a whole, and these seem to serve as an (unsuccessful) attempt to make it a bit more interesting and aesthetically pleasing. They’re also just straight-up concrete, which I suppose matches the rest of the place. 1/10.
Location: Outside Goodricke reception
The only statue on East, this statue is basically two balls made out of gears that I’m sure would be more useful if they were actually being used in some sort of machinery. They are quite cool I suppose, but they’re in the middle of Goodricke college, who is ever really going to see them?? (No offence to all Goodricke students). I feel indifferent towards them. 5/10.
Location: Outside the music department
There’s probably some deeper meaning to this one, but coming from a non-art-critic, it’s just a naked woman. 10/10.
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