Friends of Clare Hall Art Society

Friends of Clare Hall Art Society (FCHAS) is a new initiative led by Helaine Blumenfeld OBE in support of art projects at Clare Hall. The College holds a significant art collection of mostly contemporary British artworks. FCHAS aims to strengthen and promote Clare Hall’s network of artists, art historians and Fellows from other disciplines from the UK and abroad with interest in the arts.  It is also an opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals with an interest in art.

FCHAS events are free for members of the College and also members of the Friends of the Clare Hall Art Society. The general public is also welcome to attend these events by purchasing tickets through the event pages.

Statement from Helaine Blumenfeld OBE

I have long-held that Art is a vital force for regenerating society. Experiencing a work of art can inspire all those who engage with it, encouraging them to connect with the world around them.

Art is a direct form of communication that doesn’t depend on cultural or religious background. Clare Hall has a unique place in the University of Cambridge with its diverse membership of people from all over the world, from all backgrounds and with interests in all subjects. It is an ideal hothouse for having this kind of experience in the power of art. Not only by having exhibitions but also by having a community of people dedicated to making this happen. Inviting artists, curators and critics to share their knowledge, helps to extend the audience for art along with its understanding.

Clare Hall has hosted art exhibitions for several years, often showcasing emerging talent and regional artists as well as important artists on the national scene. I’ve increasingly felt that we needed a group of people to help spread the word and become advocates for this mission. For this reason, we’ve set up the FCHAS to provide a forum for artists to talk about their work, to share their experiences, and to energise the surrounding community thus extending the boundaries of people who appreciate and engage in the power of art.

I invite you to join us.

Helaine Blumenfeld is an American sculptress. She lives and works in the United Kingdom and Pietrasanta, central Italy. She designs large-scale sculptures in marble, which are then executed for her by Tuscan master sculptors. Examples of her work are in the collections of the Smithsonian, the Tate, at Clare College and Clare Hall in Cambridge, the Courtauld Gallery, as well as at various key locations in London. Blumenfeld completed a PhD at Columbia University in 1964 and then went to Paris to study art under Ossip Zadkine. Her first solo show was in 1966.  Blumenfeld is vice-president of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. In 2007 she won the Premio Pietrasanta nel Mondo, and she was awarded an honorary OBE in 2011. For news about her ongoing work, please see her website.

Past events


The Friends of Clare Hall Art Society invite you to attend Photographing Art in the Digital Age, a special talk by renowned photographer, Sergei Petrov.

Please join us in the Richard Eden Suite at our West Court site, on Wednesday, 5 February 2020 at 5.30 pm for a drinks reception. The talk will start at 6.00 pm followed by a buffet dinner served at 7.30 pm.

General Admission is £10 which can be paid by cash at the door.  Attendance is free for members of Clare Hall, FCHAS and of the Clare Hall Art Committee. 

Please RSVP to by 3 February.



17 October 2019

The Life of a Sculptor - Johannes von Stumm         

Johannes von Stumm is past President of the Royal Society of Sculptors, the President of Oxford Art Society, a founding member of Sculpture Network (Europe), and the President of Open Studios West Berkshire and North Hampshire. 




11 June, 2019

A Strange Patchwork Way of Making up a God: The Ancient Origins of Polychrome Sculpture, a special talk by Dr Thomas Flynn.    

In his talk, Dr Flynn explored the largely overlooked origins of ‘chryselephantine’ (gold and ivory) sculpture, its rediscovery in the 18th century, and the critical reactions of academics and artists to its revival in the 19th century.


Helaine Blumenfeld OBE, Patron FCHAS

Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes, Hon. Secretary FCHAS

Brief Summary of the Talk

Greek archaeological authorities recently announced their intention to restore the ‘cella' of the Parthenon, which originally housed the great 11m high gold and ivory cult statue of Athena Parthenos. This talk explores the largely overlooked origins of ‘chryselephantine’ (gold and ivory) sculpture, its rediscovery in the 18th century, and the critical reactions of academics and artists to its revival in the 19th century.

A short biographical note: Dr Thomas Flynn is an art historian with specialist interests in historical and contemporary sculpture and the professional practices of the international art market. He is a visiting senior lecturer at several UK universities. He is the founder of Flynn & Giovani, a research agency investigating the ownership history of high-value works of art for collectors, museums and the art trade.



29 April 2019

Rupert Edwards and Helaine Blumenfeld

Hard Beauty - talk and film

Rupert Edwards introduced his recent documentary Hard Beauty (2018) – a visual celebration of Helaine Blumenfeld’s work relying on unprecedented access to unique records and personal archives. 

‘Helaine Blumenfeld is one of the most respected sculptors of her generation and one of the art world's best-kept secrets. This is the first film about her life and work. Featuring sequences filmed in Paris, where Blumenfeld first learned her craft under the great Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine; in Pietrasanta (Italy) – a sanctuary for sculptors since Michelangelo, and where Blumenfeld has a studio; and in the artist's hometown of Cambridge, this film shows the story of one of Britain's great unsung artists. It follows the creation of Blumenfeld's sculpture, Tree of Life: Encounter, from its conception in clay, to scaling up, 'roughing out' and finishing the marble, to installing the completed 10ft sculpture at the Woolf Institute's new headquarters at Westminster College, Cambridge, in February 2018. Timothy Potts, Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, who was interviewed by Rupert Edwards for this film, concluded: "I am sure that Helaine's work will survive the test of time and she will have a place in 20th and 21st-century history"’ (IMDb).


  • Helaine Blumenfeld OBE, Patron FCHAS
  • Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes, Hon. Secretary FCHAS



Friends of the Clare Hall Art Society offers two annual membership categories:

  • Individual membership £40
  • Joint membership £60

Benefits include free attendance to all talks and one Formal Dinner in college.

For further information about joining the society, please contact Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes at Alternatively, you can download a membership form here which can be sent to or in the post to our Development Office, Clare Hall, Herschel Road, CB3 9AL.

For enquiries regarding corporate membership, please contact





Further links