After a year of planning, ‘Syd Barrett – A Celebration’, organised by Cambridge Live in conjunction with the Barrett family and estate, finally gets underway this week with a series of events paying tribute to the former Pink Floyd legend.
The centre piece of the celebrations is the unveiling of a piece of commemorative artwork at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Thursday 27 October which follows years of campaigning by the general public for a lasting memorial.
In 2015 Cambridge Live commissioned, in collaboration with Syd’s family, a piece of public art with Section 106 funding from Cambridge City Council to be permanently displayed at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. The artwork was to commemorate Syd’s last ever live public performances, which took place at the venue in 1972. The artwork will be unveiled at a VIP reception attended by Syd’s family as well as former friends, colleagues and associates, ahead of a live public concert, in the year that marks both the 10th anniversary of Syd’s death as well as the 70th anniversary of his birth. Also in attendance on the night will be the remaining members of Stars, the band who Syd played with at his final performance at the venue.
The artwork has been designed by artists Clare Palmier and Spadge Hopkins with fabrication from Cory Burr. The piece is entitled CODA (referencing Syd’s last performance at the venue) and uses reflective surfaces and bicycle components (representing his iconic song ‘Bike’, as well as Cambridge). The piece will also be interactive with a wheel spinning to reveal LED images and lyrics of the former Pink Floyd guitarist and also incorporates reflective surfaces to represent Syd’s favourite silver 1962 Fender Esquire Guitar, with its reflective discs.
Following the artwork unveiling there will be a live public concert (which has been sold out for several months) featuring Swedish band Men on the Border, the only band in the world who play the solo music of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd, backed by the 50-piece Sandviken Symphony Orchestra who hail from the same town in Sweden as the band.
The evening of music will feature symphonic interpretations of Barrett classics from his solo albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett including the likes of ‘Octopus’ and ‘Terrapin’ with the repertoire flanked by an interpretation of Floyd’s ‘High Hopes’.
The concert will also feature narration from acclaimed playwright, and former school friend of Syd, David Gale, lighting by Peter Wynne Wilson who worked with Pink Floyd between 1966 and 1968 when he created light shows for their performances and who now works with such illustrious clients such as U2 and Radiohead, plus two members of P-Floyd, one of the foremost Pink Floyd concept bands in the world.
The celebrations begin on Friday 21 October with a specially curated film night, a partnership between Cambridge Live, the 36th Cambridge Film Festival and Cambridge Film Trust to present. The evening will include a series of short films about Syd Barrett, and the world premiere of Get All That Ant?, a documentary film about the Swinging Sixties. The free form documentary made by Barrett’s former school friend and fellow art student, Anthony Stern, featuring unique documentary footage and never before seen images of the 1960s.
Neil Jones, Operations Director for Cambridge Live, said “We’re very excited to now be celebrating the life and work of Cambridge’s most famous musical son in his anniversary year. We hope that visitors to the Corn Exchange enjoy the commemorative artwork and we’re pleased that it will provide a lasting tribute to a man whose idiosyncratic style in the world of music and art has been an influence for so many generations of people.”