One of the pleasures of a book launch in Cardiff University’s Glamorgan Building is seeing wood panelling, carving and partitions of the old council Committee Rooms. (The building, opened in 1912, was county hall to Glamorgan and then Mid Glamorgan County Councils, being acquired in 1997 for the University after the introduction of Unitary Authorities.)
Whilst listening to learned introductions for the three books – including our friend Rachel Hurdley’s study of mantelpieces – I saw one of those modern buzzwords “Governance” over a carving of Blind Justice, clutching her scales and sword.
Later, when I checked the opposite partition, I found Industry, a miner’s lamp and shovel in her hands.
Round on the other side of the two partitions were motifs for Wales, with a leek and a dragon etched over mermaids. Outside the building are the Scottish architectural sculpture Albert Hemstock Hodge’s large statues of Minerva, representing mining, and Neptune for navigation, and the mermaids may reflect the canals and port’s importance. It is possible that another Scot known to Hodge, George Alexander did the wood carving in the Committee Rooms.
The champagne reception was full of true chin-rubbing academics, research students and families.
Hydrangeas decorated the tables and miniature cupcakes delighted the grandchildren of another author. One greedy professor later admitted that he ate four tiny cakes in a mouthful.