New sculpture recognises philanthropy

Published: 20 October 2022

‘Alma Mater’ commissioned to mark contribution of the University’s donors

Visitors to the University’s Gilmorehill campus in recent weeks may have noticed a new feature in the Gilbert Scott building, as an iconic new artwork was unveiled in the East Quad.

The work, entitled ‘Alma Mater’, was conceived by artist Jephson Robb and commissioned by the University to thank donors whose transformative philanthropy has nurtured the growth of the University at the start of the 21st century.  

Jephson Robb is a graduate of the University who, during his time here, was inspired by the sculptures dotted about campus including ‘Diagram For An Object’, outside the Hunterian Art Gallery.  

The title of the sculpture, ‘Alma Mater’, translates to Nurturing Mother. ‘Alma Mater’, which is now permanently installed in the East quad, appears from different views as an abstracted infinite symbol, a cradle to hold an unknown world, and an inverted heart shape. The inverted heart makes a subtle visual reference to the outline of a beechnut which fall from the majestic beech tree that stands in the quad. The viewer can see the different forms in the sculpture as they move in, out and around the east quad.  

Around the base of the plinth is a band of foundation stones with the names of philanthropic donors engraved in them. The placement of the names at ground level symbolically connects donors to the soil of the University. 

Frances Shepherd, Director of Development and Alumni said: "Alma Mater reflects the power of the University community to change the world for the better, and the impact that philanthropy has had in making that possible. We are delighted to see the contribution made by the University’s lead donors recognised in this sculpture. They have supported students through difficult times, opened up education opportunity, helped advance research and transformed the University estate."

First published: 20 October 2022