Our team have been busy behind the scenes and we are pleased to share that our sculpture collection is now available to view on the Art UK website. Art UK is a charity website showcasing public art collections from over 3,200 British institutions. Art UK’s mission is to make art available to everyone for enjoyment, learning and research.
Here are some highlights for you to explore:
Out and about
Not local to Leeds? Never fear. Get an up-close look at our Public Art Collection on the Art UK website. See ‘Levitating Woman “The Dreamer”’ by Quentin Bell (pictured top), then explore different views of firm favourite ‘Sign For Art (Stelae 2014)’ by Keith Wilson (pictured above).
Wilson’s public art piece references his early years working as an art instructor for deaf-blind adults in the 1980s. “Drawing two spaced fingertips in a wave motion across the forehead of the student – a tactile brainwave sign – announced the arrival of the artist, the subject of art and the imminent activity of making art,” he remembered. “This modification of the British Sign Language, presumably derived from the making of a brushstroke, struck home and stayed with me,” he explained. Standing in the centre of Beech Grove Plaza, the artwork is affectionately referred to as ‘the squiggle’ and ‘the wavy bacon’ by the University’s students.
Small but perfectly formed
If smaller pieces are your jam, discover ‘Courage’ by Hamo Thornycroft, which can be viewed from a range of angles on the Art UK website. This is a mini version of Thornycroft’s large-scale ‘Courage’ for the W. E. Gladstone Memorial in the Strand, London.
Thornycroft was responsible for the creation of several high-profile monuments in the capital, including the statue of Oliver Cromwell outside the Palace of Westminster and of General Gordon in Trafalgar Square.
“Sculpture must again be made accessible”, wrote the extraordinary American sculptor Mitzi Solomon Cunliffe in 1950. Cunliffe wanted to see sculpture “taken for granted by people as part of the natural environment, the stuff of life”. In this vein, Cunliffe was commissioned to create her impressive sculpture ‘Man-Made Fibres’ for the University of Leeds. The resultant stone sculpture towers above the University’s students and staff on the side of the Clothworkers’ Building South. Cunliffe’s more modestly sized maquette for ‘Man-Made Fibres’ can also be found in the University’s sculpture collection (pictured above).
Cunliffe was commissioned by the University in 1955, in the same year that she would create the now iconic bronze award for BAFTA.
Make your own discoveries
We are delighted that more people will now be able to enjoy the sculptures from our collection. We hope it will encourage researchers to utilise the collection and make new discoveries. Explore our collection on the Art UK website and see what you can discover.
Our team faced some unique challenges in the journey to digitising our sculpture collection, with many pieces housed in unusual locations across the University’s campus. Find out how they overcame these difficulties in the blog post ‘Photographing Sculpture’.