Image: Wikimedia Commons/Steve Walton
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Steve Walton

The Koan has returned to Warwick Arts Centre

After its two-year absence, the iconic white Koan has been reinstalled outside Warwick Arts Centre.

A modern art sculpture purchased by Warwick in 1972, the Koan was designed and created by Liliane Ljn as part of the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation City Sculpture Project.

It was housed in Plymouth and Hayward Gallery in London before moving to the Warwick campus.

The Koan’s name is a pun on the concept of a “koan” in Buddhism, which refers to a device for contemplating (an unanswerable question).

The white Koan has played a role in many of campus’ myths and legends (investigated by The Boar) – it was allegedly the nose-cap of the Blue-Streak Missile (a failed Apollo mission), a supposed quick escape route for senior staff, and even a signalling device for aliens in outer space.

The Koan even garnered its very own cartoon strip in the 90s, with 32 episodes created by Steve Shipway.

Koan Worshipping society was led by the Koanists, who believed it was “the earth-bound manifestation of the immortal Koan, the creator of the universe”.

The sculpture was previously removed in 2008 due to the £8 million redevelopment of Butterworth Hall.

The Koan has now been returned to its rightful place, indicating the entrance to Warwick Arts Centre, just a few metres to the right of its original position.


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