Cooking up a feast with Cooks and their Books

On 5 September we celebrated our new Treasures of the Brotherton exhibition Cooks and Their Books: Collecting Cookery Books in Leeds with some wonderful food inspired by the historic cook books on display.

TG_Cook and their Books_Launch_20170905
Image credit Leeds University Library

The University of Leeds Cookery Collection was established in 1939 by a donation from Blanche Legat Leigh. The exhibition explores how recipes have been compiled and collected and how attitudes to food have changed over time. In books spanning an incredible seven centuries you can see a first edition of Beeton’s Book of Household Management, wonderfully illustrated Renaissance texts, and warnings on the ‘Spontaneous Combustion of Drunkards’.

Professor Viv Jones, Head of the University of Leeds Cultural Institute opened the evening. We found out about the fantastic events and opportunities facilitated by the Institute who work with staff, students and cultural partners. Eileen White, a co-curator of the exhibition, delighted the audience with some snippets of strange and usual recipes. Flamingo tongue anyone? 

University House Chefs Phil Tostevin and Robert Hargreaves prepared a mini banquet inspired by some of the recipes on display. A French onion soup, hearty beef stew and lemon posset were all enjoyed by our hungry guests. Guests then crowded around the display cases eager to find their own inspiration!

We have lots of tasty tidbits exploring culinary traditions to accompany the exhibition. Please visit the Treasures of the Brotherton events webpage for more information.

Cooks and their Books: Collecting Cookery Books in Leeds is open until 31 January 2018.


The future’s bright for FUAM Prize artists


On Tuesday 8 August, 120 visitors braved the relentless rain to attend the opening reception of the FUAM Graduate Art Prize Exhibition 2017.

After enjoying free refreshments in Parkinson Court, the hordes crowded into the exhibition space to marvel at the skill and innovation of Zoe Carlon, Olivia Loker, Miranda Jones and Lucy Davidson, the four finalists selected from the School of Design and School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies to display their work from this year’s Graduate Shows.

In contrast to previous years where the Art Gallery team has had to build video rooms, install projectors, source headphones and attach TV monitors, the four finalists of 2017 have used media such as oil paint, digital photography and steel in their practice. The resulting exhibition is a mainly wall and plinth-based explosion of bold colour, geometric shapes, clever composition and intriguing ideas.

The finalists were selected in June 2017 by a panel of expert judges – Nathalie Levi, former curator of The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, David Salinger, the chair of FUAM (Leeds), and Jane Winfrey, the Picture Specialist for Bonhams.

The judges will return on Wednesday 27 September to announce the official winner in a prize-giving event, however, we’re encouraging all visitors to vote for their favourite artist in the People’s Choice Award. Simply pop into the Art Gallery, pick the artwork you like best and then fill out a ballot slip at the desk. Have your say!

The FUAM Graduate Art Prize Exhibition runs until 4 November 2017.

Three is the magic number

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery Learning Co-ordinator, Lizzie Bushby, ends her maternity cover this week. She reflects on the top three things she has enjoyed about the role.


I joined the Footsteps into Art programme as maternity cover last September. The nine months since then have been full of activity and have passed in a blur. This week is my final week.

Here are my top 3 things about the role:

The Footsteps into Art Exhibition

Since the workshops started in November, I have had the exhibition in mind. I was really excited about displaying the wonderful work the children were doing and celebrating Footsteps into Art with the wider Gallery audience. At the same time I felt quite daunted by the process, as I hadn’t been involved in curating and installing an exhibition before.

When June rolled around, the work started in earnest. I really enjoyed putting together broad themes, gathering artwork into groups which visually looked good and writing the information panels. A colleague helped me to pin work in the cabinets, and I spent a happy couple of days tweaking, drilling, sanding and painting until I was happy with the display.

I am so proud of the exhibition, and have had some wonderful feedback from visitors. It’s on display until 19th August so if you haven’t already seen it, please pop into the Gallery!

Environmental Art Workshop

Inspired by the work of Anthony Goldsworthy, I wanted to introduce environmental art to the programme so I booked an environmental artist for a Leeds City Academy workshop in May. One sunny afternoon, we left the Gallery for Chancellor’s Court armed with just a few long sticks for frames. The students found materials including pine cones, twigs, daisies and gravel, and used them to create thoughtful and detailed transient works of art.

Check out the photograph here. Can you spot which works in the Gallery were used as inspiration?

Working with student volunteers

The student volunteers are invaluable in running the programme. It has been great to meet and work with a range of students from power lifters to photographers.
I have really appreciated their support in preparing and running the workshops, and have enjoyed getting to know them.

If you are a University of Leeds student and are interested in volunteering during the 2017-18 academic year, please contact

Inspirational Internships

Gallery Education Intern, Dominika Blazewicz, reflects on her time working on the Footsteps into Art programme with the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

As an Education student (and a big art enthusiast!) I saw becoming a Gallery Intern as a perfect opportunity to learn something new and develop the skills needed to succeed after graduating from university.

From the very first day I was fortunate enough to immerse myself fully into ‘Gallery life’. On top of working for the Footsteps into Art programme, I was also creating education worksheets for the Gallery’s exhibitions, such as the one of György Gordon’s and Kenneth Armitage’s works, and just familiarising myself with the organisational structure and general administration of a gallery. Oh boy, I really did not realise how much work went into setting up exhibitions. I never gave much thought to behind-the-scenes – I took all the beautiful displays and catalogues and compositions for granted. Not anymore. I now have a lot respect for everybody working in art galleries, museums and libraries.

The Footsteps into Art programme was also fantastic. I enjoyed assisting the Learning Coordinator and freelance artists in creating workshops, as well as running a few of my own. As a student of education, I was highly familiar with current changes to the education curriculum and assessment criteria, and was aware of the way in which many aspects of art and culture were being systematically removed from the UK education system. I like to think that working at the Gallery allowed the team to aid an interest and a love of art in children. The workshops provide access to a rich cultural education, something which can often be missed in a regular school environment.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time as an Education Intern, and would recommend the internship to anyone with an interest in art, management or education. I particularly enjoyed being able to talk to children about art, and hear how their opinions and ideas developed and changed over the year.

All Change!

The month of May saw many changes in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery.

Travelling Library
Travelling Library, 1617

Some of our items had been on display since 1 February 2016 so they have now been retired to the cool, dark conditions of our stacks in order to give their pages, spines and print time to recuperate.  Thanks to the vastness and variety of the diverse collections within Special Collections, picking alternative items was akin to being children in a sweet shop for our curators!

Several objects have been replaced with material by the same author, for example, we have a new Branwell Brontë letter and a French notebook by Charlotte, however, with other items, we have opted for something completely different.

We welcome material by Tolkien, William Hey, Persian poet Sa’di and artist Fred Lawson, not to mention an adorable World War One mascot, a spectacular Ovid and the literal, literary treasure chest that is the Schatzbehalter. We also have two new Artists’ Books colourfully displayed alongside a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible.

Arguably the change that has made the biggest impact is the departure of Shakespeare’s First Folio. After 15 months on show in the huge case that greets visitors as soon as they enter the Treasures Gallery, it’s time for the Bard to take a break. We needed an item that was equally jaw-dropping so we’ve brought out our glorious Jacobean Travelling Library, one of only four of its kind in the world. See our video to discover how and why Shakespeare’s Folio was replaced.

Insight from a Volunteer

Third Year Graphic & Communication Design student, Camila Castenada, writes about her experiences as a volunteer on the Footsteps into Art programme.


The volunteering experience with ‘Footsteps Into Art’ has been one of a kind. Working with children has that overall feeling of bliss and enthusiasm, watching them explore different techniques and mediums is a refreshing view, as they express themselves with fearless curiosity and freedom.
It was a privilege to be part of such a caring and special team in charge of the program. The children always seemed happy to see us, they were kind and welcoming. Spending time with them and the teachers not only gave me the opportunity to see how art education for this young minds unfolds, but it also allowed me to learn so much more about the field.
The workshops at the gallery were great. The children always seemed to have a happy time at the university. The visiting artists were always prepared and had so much to share with the children. The techniques and lessons were engaging and creative, providing a grounding scenario as an escapade into the visual arts, and hopefully helped to seed an interest as a hobby or vocation for their future. Additionally the visit to the primary school in Little London was a rewarding experience, because it was nice to see that they had a space dedicated to their artistic practice and, and it was also gratifying to carry out a workshop in such a playful atmosphere especially since this is their everyday context.
I am grateful and honoured of being part of such a great volunteering program, and wish the best of luck to its future and succeeding teams.

Running our own workshop

2017 Education Intern, Dominika Blazewicz writes about running a workshop for schools with The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

SABG_BubblecollagefromFootstepspupils_2017Together with Penny, a volunteer artist, we were asked to design a short but enjoyable workshop for the Carousel Workshop on 26th January. The idea behind the Carousel Day was to have four one-hour long workshops to really engage the pupils and give them a taster of using and learning about different types of art and materials that can be used in just one day.

Penny and I never ran a workshop before – we were always the ones supporting the artists and children in sessions. As we would be working alongside artists, the pressure to create a workshop that would be highly enjoyable, was real. As the school theme was Harry Potter, we decided to go with the idea of ‘potion painting’ to explore the pupils’ relationship with colour. We did not want to make potions to drink; rather, we wanted to explore how a potion might look in 2 dimensional form, like a painting, using a technique which we called ‘potion painting’. In reality, it was all about bubble painting and using straws instead of brushes, which all fit within the theme of mark-making, as well as Harry Potter.

Before telling the students about being wizards and ‘potion painting’, we discussed the art of John Hoyland and Eric Atkinson in the Gallery, their use of colour and colour representation in their work, and explained how each artist had changed their preferred style of painting following a significant event which had changed them and their attitudes. This led to a discussion with the children on how different colours can affect our moods and feelings differently, i.e. warm, bright colours may make us feel a bit more energetic, and darker colours could represent mystery or sadness.

We also did a breathing exercise, where we asked the pupils to visualise their favourite colour, think of all the things that are their favourite colour, and really notice how their favourite colour makes them feel. This acted as a warm-up for the potion painting, where the students had to think about the ingredients of their potion as colours and how the colours represented what the use of their potion (we asked them to think about their potion in relation to colour and to give their potion painting a title which also gave an indication of what the potion would do if used).

The hour flew by; students really seemed to engage with the workshop, which was evident in the laughter, dirty hands, dirty aprons and generally positive atmosphere.

Some of the feedback we received on our session:

– The teacher was especially pleased with activities linked to the topic

– Colours can also convey feelings

– Using paint and fairy liquid can make nice pictures with bubbles

– I liked making bubbles with liquid and paint

– I had fun today

– I learnt about colour and emotion

– I enjoyed it all because it was so fun

Overall, we really enjoyed ‘training our wizards’, and despite our nerves and running around before the session, we are very much looking forward to running another workshop in the nearest future. Next time, if Penny and I were to do a similar workshop, we would make it last longer, as this would give us an opportunity to reflect on the pupils’ work with the pupils, and to even further discuss their relationship with colour.