Sunday, September 5, 2021

Dinky Doors Cambridge

One day I noticed what looked to me some kind of art installation, while strolling along the river, and wondered how long that thing had been there and gone unnoticed…it was somewhat hidden, so not something one would spot right away. Then I thought that if there’s one there might be more, and after I did my research I discovered there is in fact an an artists duo, who keep their identities secret, known as “Dinky Doors” and  responsible for tiny art installations all over the city that are clever, super cute and, eh, dinky.

I knew right then I was to go on a mission (I mean, how to resist) and one weekend I took a “walking tour” to find all art pieces. The tour took me to places around Cambridge I would have not normally visited, so it was not just about discovering the “doors” but also discovering the neighborhoods.

For example I learned, thanks to the tour, that there is an iconic landmark in Cambridge known as the Reality Checkpoint, nothing more than a lamppost in the middle of a park in the middle of the city. Now, there are more than one explanation of how the lamppost got its name: a reality check for people leaving the college boundaries to venture into the pubs of Mill road; or, a reference in the park for those losing their bearings in the dark and drunkenness…anyway, if it weren’t for the quest I set myself on, I’d have never known.

All the while I search for dinky doors, then, I do admire the main sighs, the university and the many colleges, the museums, the parks, the markets. Along the river a bit further away form the city center, you’ll find another couple of dinky doors. The riverside is for me the place to chill, sit and people-watch or just observe the rowers and the swans gliding along. The neighborhoods around the train station aren’t my usual hangout places, just because they are a bit too far, but with the excuse of finding two more dinky doors I ventured there.

And, although I had been there on another occasion, an estate outside of the city with the remains of a circular fort from the iron age, an 18th century mansion and huge forests all around was picked as the site for yet another dinky door…highly recommended site, if not for a stroll through nature.

A tour guide with all the background info, map with locations and everything, is promoted on the artists’ website. Inside it, together with the history of each of the doors, there are also some instructions for the kids to play some games. You can think if it as a sort of a treasure hunt with riddles. If you have some time on your hands and you are in Cambridge, think about touring the dinky doors.



Un giorno, mentre camminavo lungo il fiume, ho notato per caso quella che mi e’ sembrata una installazione artistica e mi sono chiesta da quanto tempo fosse li prima che la notassi…era più o meno nascosta, quindi non e’ che uno se la ritrova davanti. Ho giustamente pensato che se c’era questa, di sicuro ce ne saranno altre e dopo u po’ di ricerche ho scoperto che infatti esiste un duo di artisti, le cui identità sono ignote, noto come “Dinky Doors” che sono responsabili delle istallazioni artistiche sparse per la città, arte intelligente, carinissima, e in miniatura.

E da li’ sapevo di avere una missione (come resistere?) e un fine settimana ho iniziato la ricerca per trovare tutte le altre porticine. Il tour mi ha portata in giro per Cambridge in posti dove non sarei andata normalmente, quindi il tour non era solo alla scoperta dell’arte ma anche alla scoperta della città stessa.

Per esempio ho appreso grazie al tour che c’e’ un sito a Cambridge noto col nome di Reality Checkpoint, che altro non e’ che un lampione nel bel mezzo di un parco in centro. Pare che ci siano varie spiegazioni su come quel lampione abbia ricevuto tale definizione: chi dice sia un passaggio alla realtà, dai college ovattati ai pub di Mill road, oppure c’e’ chi dice che il lampione e’ nel parco per orientare chi o sbronzo o perso so trovasse smarrito….in ogni caso, ora lo so grazie a questa ricerca.

Nel mentre provavo a individuare le piccole porte artistiche mi abbandono ad ammirare ora i college, l’università, i musei, i parchi, i mercati. Lungo il fiume, un po’ fuori il centro, ci sono altre due di queste porte. Per me il lungofiume e’ dove mi piace rilassarmi, guardare i passanti o chi fa canottaggio. Poi, le zone intorno alla stazione dei treni non sono certo nella mia lista, semplicemente perché mi vengono distanti, eppure con la scusa di trovare altre due installazioni, mi sono spinta fino a li. Addirittura, anche se ci sono stata in altre occasioni, c’e’ una bellissima tenuta fuori città, con tanto di mura circolari risalenti all’era del ferro, e una villa del 18-mo secolo, in aggiunta a foreste e prati. Bene, una porta in miniatura e’ stata nascosta da quelle parti, e suggerisco una visita se non altro per una bella passeggiata in mezzo alla natura.

Del sito web degli artisti si può acquistare una guida con una mappa dettagliata di tutte le porticine, la storia di ognuna di esse, e inoltre ci sono istruzioni per i più piccini su come interagire con alcune delle installazioni. A me sa tanto di caccia al tesoro. Se avete tempo da investire e siete a Cambridge, e’ una cosa che vale la pena fare.

“Ride and Park” door, a dinky space-time portal more than a dinky door, it promises to take you to the location of the furthest dinky door, in a forest nonetheless. It reminded me of the round revolving stone that is featured in the movie “Stargate” in fact.

"Ye (old) Knight Rider", a tribute to the iconic TV series, but also a reference to the medieval past. 

Teleport-o-Matic (or ToM) can teleport you to any place you want for a dinky price. It is hidden between two of the iconic red telephone booths in another very topic location of Cambridge, the market square, and I don’t know, I thought of Superman….

“Emailerator”, under the shade of a real size post box, which promises the fastest mail delivery on the planet.

“DFO”, or Dinkly Flying Object, an alien spaceship that crashed on the walls of…the technology museum!! 

The "OctoSpa"

"fotodinkyMat", or what it should have been. Sadly, the photo boot dink door was stolen a while ago, so the creators cleverly thought of installing a scene-of-crime dinky door, so at least one can still find the spot.

“Reality checkpoint”. It looks like the elevator doors in the old days when a needle would move to indicate the floor…only that in this case the needle flicks between moods.

 There is a downing street in Cambridge, not as famous as the London one, but it features its own perfectly rendered “10 (and a quarter) Downing Street” door…. One must love the parallelism…

“Wonder Emporium”, a door to a shop selling whatever it is that is dropped or lost along the street.

A church’s main gate that tells the story of two lovers, Angela and Mr D. Mon (ehhh the pun!!!), called “Love from Above”.

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