Robert Murray, Cumbria, 1966-67
corten steel 425 x 900 x 450 cm

Robert Murray

, 1966-67/1995

Corten stel
470 x 709 x 714 cm
Gift of Transport Canada, 1995

This work will be restored and reinstalled on campus in 2017-18.

Cumbria was first exhibited at Toronto’s City Hall for Sculpture ’67. The large-scale work was selected by New York’s Parks Department Office of Cultural Affairs for the Sculpture of the Month program. It was shown at Battery Park in Manhattan, the city where Murray made his home in 1968. The sculpture returned to Canada in 1969 for the newly-opened Vancouver International Airport. Jean Sutherland Boggs (Director of the National Gallery of Canada) hoped the sculpture would reflect the international aspirations of both the airport and the city of Vancouver.

Cumbria generated much public controversy because it departed from traditional sculptural forms. In Vancouver, it was initially to be sited in a prominent place to create a soaring effect but was moved to the median on Grant McConachie Way. Amid busy traffic and beside a gas station, the sculpture could not be properly viewed. By 1993, the airport removed Cumbria with bulldozers, causing irreparable damage, and once again, public controversy. In 1995, with the intervention of artist Toni Onley, Transport Canada agreed to donate the work to UBC and fund its re-fabrication. Cumbria was the first large-scale public sculpture installed at UBC since 1975.

Robert Murray is well known in Canada and the United States for his large, non-representational, painted steel and aluminum sculptures. His early training as a painter is evident in the attention to the surface of the sculptures and his use of colour. Be sure to walk around Cumbria and notice how dramatically the perspective changes from different viewing angles.