Student Chloe Lee from the University’s Art Gallery and Museum Studies course summarises a work placement project with The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

In a time where viewing artworks has become a predominantly digital pursuit, as galleries were forced to close during the pandemic, The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery have not let this restriction limit their abilities to share the University of Leeds Art Collection with their visitors.  Gallery staff have been working remotely with myself and three other Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA students: Aleksandra, Lanzhi and Essam, to research and contact artists, or their estates, whose work is represented in the University of Leeds Art Collection, to request copyright permission in order to reproduce images of their artwork online. An artwork is still in copyright 70 years after the artist’s death and as much of the Art Collection is still in copyright, a lot of time and effort is required to attempt to trace copyright holders.

Bronze sculpture called Blade Maze Figure by Michael Ayrton.
Michael Ayrton, Blade Maze Figure, 1965. © Estate of Michael Ayrton. Image credit University of Leeds.

Our first success as a group was Michael Ayrton’s ‘Blade Maze’ sculpture, which was constructed using bronze in 1965. What struck us about his work was Ayrton’s fascination with Greek mythology, particularly the story of Daedalus and Icarus which influenced much of his artwork. A sculptor, painter, writer and broadcaster, Ayrton’s obsession with flight, myths, mirrors and mazes was almost always reflected within his work, including ‘Blade Maze’ which can now be seen on the Gallery’s online catalogue.

However, identifying copyright holders or artists’ estates was not always possible and we regularly encountered artworks that were deemed to be orphan works, a term used when the copyright holder of an artwork cannot be traced.
Susan Jennifer Benson’s ‘In Kensington Gardens’ is among these works. It is a lovely scenic piece of work produced in 1952, though little is known about the artist who created it. We do, however, know that Benson was born in 1931, and if you have any information regarding the artist, please contact the Gallery.

Rosalind Breeze’s ‘Wharfedale’, an oil painting created in the 1960s, is also among these orphan works. In our research we struggled to identify any biography or information about the artist, including their date of birth and we would really value any information you may have.

Another fantastic piece added to the online catalogue is Carl Dotzler’s ink print ‘Nuremberg, View of Durer’s House’. Dotzler was born in Nuremberg in 1874 and employs planographic and lithograph techniques to create this striking piece.

We are pleased to announce that the above artworks are now available to see on The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery’s online catalogue. If you have information on any of these artists or their artworks, please contact the Gallery and let us know. We would love to find out more.