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CCC original press release: Written in stone – interpreted worldwide – brought back to Cambridge


A proposed art work by Neville Gabie and Alan Ward to commemorate the role of Parker’s Piece as the birthplace of the ‘Cambridge Rules,’ which helped establish the modern game of football, is set to be commissioned.

Following a public consultation by Cambridge City Council on proposals by four artists, a report to the Community Services Scrutiny Committee is recommending that Gabie and Ward’s initial concept, ‘Written in stone – interpreted worldwide – brought back to Cambridge’, is now developed further.

During the consultation ‘Written in stone – interpreted worldwide – brought back to Cambridge’ received more support from the public responding than the other art work proposals by Kenny Hunter, Nayan Kulkarni and Mark Titchner.

The council assessed the four concept proposals against the initial artist brief and the criteria contained in the brief. It then considered the results of the public consultation alongside responses from the Public Art Panel.

The proposal by Gabie and Ward that is due to be selected will incorporate a large granite block inscribed with the Cambridge Rules in various languages, which will be cut into nine equal blocks. The central piece will stay on Parker’s Piece, while the other eight will be sent as ‘gifts’ to worldwide locations tracing pioneering stories where football took root.

In exchange, an interactive website, will be inviting that global audience to share through photography, video and audio, their own experiences of where they play; the goalposts, pitches, spectators’ benches and other details including reading the rules in as many different languages as possible – creating a worldwide visibility for the original rules and Parker’s Piece. This material will then be used as the basis for a multimedia outdoor exhibition on Parker’s Piece celebrating this world heritage with its roots in Cambridge.

‘Written in stone – interpreted worldwide – brought back to Cambridge’ delivers the vision for this commission to celebrate and promote the ‘Cambridge Rules’ and the important part they played in the formation of the Football Association Rules, 150 years ago. It is also an art work, which through its process will engage with the people of Cambridge and beyond, and convey the story of the Cambridge Rules globally.

Artists Gabie and Ward  said: “We find it extraordinary that football, the game which has found expression worldwide, can be traced back to those first rules written in Cambridge. Even more significantly, that there is a place, Parker’s Piece which really was the first football pitch with a formal set of rules.

“This commission is not only a wonderful privilege, but a huge responsibility. This project will have a significant local, national and international resonance, something we are keen to respond to and embrace. It is a genuinely unique and exciting opportunity.”

Cllr Carina O’Reilly, Executive Councillor for City Centre and Public Places said: “We felt that this proposal reflected both the key role that Cambridge played in the development of modern football and the way the Cambridge Rules travelled across the globe. We were also conscious that this was the proposal that local people said they wanted.

“And with Manchester United coming to the Abbey Stadium at the end of the month, I’m really happy a good piece of art has been recommended to celebrate the people’s game – instead of just a plaque on a bin.”

After approval is given at Community Services Scrutiny Committee, detailed designed work on the proposed concept will take place this year. The permanent art work is expected to be installed by the end of 2016.


Notes for editors

1.     For more background on the ‘Cambridge Rules’ art work commission visit

Nadine Black, Public Art Officer,, tel: 01223 458505

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