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Rings of time – MRI-inspired sculpture marks 90 years for Trust Founders

Thursday 23rd November 2017

This week, Science Oxford’s parent charity the Oxford Trust presented our founders and patrons, Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood, with a specially commissioned sculpture to mark and celebrate their 90th birthdays.

The piece was made by David Harber, an established local artist based in Aston Upthorne, just south of Oxford. He is best known for his outdoor sculptures which grace gardens and outdoor spaces all over the world. In 2016, David’s company was given The Queen’s Award for International Trade for outstanding overseas growth but he remains totally committed to British design and craftsmanship. Every commission is made with care and pride at his Oxfordshire workshop, where his experienced and skilled team are based.

The Trust sent out a brief to sculptors across the UK asking for ideas for creating a piece of outdoor art that celebrated not just Martin and Audrey’s 90th birthdays but the amazing contribution they have made to science and innovation. They were the founders of Oxford Instruments and are prolific philanthropists in the fields of enterprise, the environment and education. The Oxfordshire charities they founded, and continue to support include The Oxford Trust, Earth Trust, Wild Oxfordshire and the Sylva Foundation.

We presented a shortlist of three very different proposals to our Board of Trustees, and the choice of David Harber’s scheme was unanimous, as his design thoughtfully combined the personal and scientific. Two glistening stainless steel rings represent Martin and Audrey, each ring encircled with ninety small copper rings to reflect ninety years.

The circles echo the iconic donut-shape of an MRI scanner – which the couple were pivotal in the development of with their company Oxford Instruments. If you look closely, you will notice that the steel rings are in the shape of Ohm – the unit of electrical resistance – reference to the super-conducting magnets that Martin worked on, and which are a fundamental component of an MRI scanner.

The sculpture was a huge surprise for Martin and Audrey but, as you can see from the photographs, they were both delighted with it, and are now thinking about where to place it in the gardens of their Oxfordshire home. The Trust is hoping to secure funding to create a larger version of the sculpture to sit at the entrance of our new science education and innovation centre development at Stansfeld Park; a piece of public art to welcome visitors and tell our story.

Light is integral to David’s designs and the stainless steel rings will not only reflect the surrounding landscape during the day but glow and there’s an integral motion sensor so that the copper rings will glow when you walk through the piece at night. We hope it will add an exciting and intriguing dimension to the entrance of our new centre.

Find out more about their 90th Celebrations here and on twitter #woods90

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