Oxford City Council has approved plans by the Blavatnik School of Government to erect a statue of a giant pink pen in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter.

The artist behind the piece, Sir Michael Craig-Martin is well-known for his sculptures of line drawings of single objects, and he told Cherwell: “The image chosen for Oxford was the fountain pen. The image can be seen as a reference to the signing of important documents, an age-old formality that continues to the present-day.”

Craig Martin is currently the Emeritus Professor of Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he was a significant influence on the Young British Artists movement in the late 1980s. He is also internationally regarded for his conceptual work An Oak Tree which has divided critical reception since its debut in 1973.

The design and access document submitted to Oxford City Council explained that the sculpture was intended to “express the research and learning carried out by the Institute”, although comments by residents to the Council’s planning department included the view that a fountain pen was an “inappropriate choice” due to it being “outdated technology”.

A spokesperson from the Blavatnik School added: “When the Blavatnik School building was granted planning approval, one of the conditions was that we would commission a piece of freely accessible public art. 

“We’re delighted Sir Michael Craig-Martin’s installation has been given planning permission – he is already known in Oxford for his mural at the JR Children’s Hospital and we hope his new installation will further contribute to the city’s environment and community.”

Image Credit: The Blavatnik School of Government. (Image edited)


For Cherwell, maintaining editorial independence is vital. We are run entirely by and for students. To ensure independence, we receive no funding from the University and are reliant on obtaining other income, such as advertisements. Due to the current global situation, such sources are being limited significantly and we anticipate a tough time ahead – for us and fellow student journalists across the country.

So, if you can, please consider donating. We really appreciate any support you’re able to provide; it’ll all go towards helping with our running costs. Even if you can't support us monetarily, please consider sharing articles with friends, families, colleagues - it all helps!

Thank you!