Gift of Porters’ Portrait for Lucy Cavendish College

by Kate Coghlan on 12 July 2016


Alumna Diana Sawyer (M Ed 2009) has kindly donated a portrait of our Senior Porters, now hanging in the entrance of Warburton Hall. The portrait formed part of an exhibition shown in June of all the College Head Porters from the University of Cambridge, by local artist Louise Riley-Smith.

When Riley-Smith showed up at the Porters’ Lodge of Lucy Cavendish College, she intended to paint one Head Porter as part of her Porters Portraits project. She met Senior Porters Neil Curtis and John Morley however, who told her quite firmly that as they share the role she could paint “both or neither” of them. Riley-Smith said:

Painting the two of them took longer, and they ignored my rule about not talking while I worked. In fact there was a lot of chat and banter. They are real characters and are obviously very fond of each other. It was a very happy experience and I am delighted that the portrait has been bought for the college to enjoy.

Benefactor Diana Sawyer is Acting Secretary to the Alumnae Association Committee, and will be a familiar face for many alumnae. She first saw the portrait on Twitter and thought it was a perfect likeness of both Neil and John. She said:

I remember thinking what a lovely idea it was that the porters were being celebrated in this way. The college porters have a really important role in the day-to-day running of every college, and I thought it was great that a permanent record of so many of the people currently fulfilling the role was being made, and celebrating them.

Neil was the first porter that I met as a student at Lucy Cavendish – the first week of term with the largest student intake at that time, and he was calm, welcoming and helpful.

Every college I've visited has had rooms full of paintings of notable academics, famous alumnae, and previous Masters/Presidents, and it's nice to think that the Head Porters at (almost) every Cambridge college will now be joining such illustrious company.

I decided to donate the painting of the Lucy Senior Porters to ensure that it becomes a permanent (and hopefully popular!) fixture at the college.

To see images of all the portraits in the collection by Louise Riley-Smith please visit her website here.

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