The Time Travelling Circus

Layla Bloom, Curator of The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery writes about an exciting new artistic installation in the Brotherton Library.

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A new arrival has appeared on the RECENTLY RETURNED shelf of the Brotherton Library Enquiries Office. The Time Travelling Circus: A Dossier Concerning Pablo Fanque and the Electrolier revised to include the Electrolier’s Accession and other variations by Katrina Palmer has been tagged and positioned for willing readers in the Library.

Reading will not be a passive experience.  The reader will become an audience member of the TTC (Time Travelling Circus), following the stories of Pablo Fanque, pioneering 19th century circus proprietor and his ill-fated wife Susannah. Reflections by the Ring Mistress, and notes by the Special Collector and Admissions Officer punctuate and propel a narrative across time and space – the space of the Brotherton Reading Room. The giant electrolier hanging in the centre of the round room takes on a life of its own, becoming a performer within a circus ring. As the construction of time and the fabric of the Library begins to disintegrate, the reader will sense the danger, but be compelled to stay.  The dossier follows the bodies to their graves in St George’s Fields, located on the University campus. Silent tears will be shed.

Katrina Palmer is an artist who uses words. Words are spoken, printed and sculpted into multi-dimensional journeys in time and space. The Time Travelling Circus is the result of her research into Fanque and St George’s Fields whilst she was in Leeds working on her exhibition The Necropolitan Line for the Henry Moore Institute (2015). Previous books include The Dark Object (2010), The Fabricator’s Tale (2014) and End Matter (2015), published by Book Works. End Matter, commissioned by Artangel and BBC Radio 4, was set on Portland, and was accompanied by a radio play, The Quarryman’s Daughters, and an audio walk around Portland, The Loss Adjustors.

This special artist’s edition of The Time Travelling Circus will be available to readers in the Brotherton Library until October 2018.  Find it in the Enquiries Office during staffed hours.

A shorter version has been published by the Henry Moore Institute, and is available for sale online and at the HMI.

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Planning an Exhibition: Collecting Our Thoughts

Richard High, our Collections Engagement Librarian, writes about planning for our current Cookery Exhibition.

The beginning of September saw the opening of the fourth changing exhibition in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery – Cooks and Their Books: Collecting Cookery Books in Leeds. The new exhibition is based on books and manuscripts dating from the late 15th century to the present day from our Cookery Collection.

We worked with two co-curators on this exhibition, the food historians Peter Brears and Eileen White. Together they have huge experience of writing and talking about recipes, cooks and food preparation both generally and in a Leeds setting.

Beginning around a year ago, we had a series of enjoyable meetings where we mulled over the main themes of the exhibition.  We considered whether to take a simple chronological approach to the books from our Cookery Collection or maybe to follow particular recipes through time. We decided to explore collecting, that is cooks collecting recipes; individuals and their collections of cookery books; the Library’s collections.

As an introduction to the exhibition we decided to show books connected to some of the individuals behind our collections such as Blanche Legat Leigh, John Hodgkin, Alfred Chaston Chapman, and our former library colleague Anne Wilson.

We also realised that the extent of our collections allowed us to explore the broad development of cookery books. We were able to display early printed editions of classical texts; some examples from our many editions of Mrs Beeton and Hannah Glasse; and a copy of the first English cookery book published outside London.

To the delight of our co-curators, Peter and Eileen, we had three copies of the works of the 16th century Papal chef Bartolomeo Scappi to choose from.  Scappi was the private chef of Pope Pius V.  His ‘Opera di M. Bartolomeo Scappi‘ originally published in 1570 was the first cookbook to include extensive explanatory images.  Judging by the image below servants in the kitchen needed strength in addition to culinary skills.

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Opera di M. Bartolomeo Scappi. Image credit Leeds University Library.

Planning for the exhibition was an enjoyable experience which has given us the chance to widen access to our collections.  Cooks and Their Books: Collecting Cookery Books in Leeds is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to explore the broad range of recipes, social history, illustrations and individuals in our extensive Cookery Collection.

The exhibition is open until 31 January 2018. You can find out about events linked to it at the Treasures of the Brotherton webpage.

Reflecting on Light Night 2017

On Friday 6th October, Leeds glowed with projections, pop-up performances, installations and illuminations of every kind for the city’s annual Light Night event.

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There were no less than 12 Light Night events taking place across campus and Leeds University Library Galleries were delighted to participate.

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery welcomed back artist, Alice Clayden, to teach visitors how to finger knit and French knit. Over a hundred people added their textile creations to a specially built frame. Alice was inspired by the Gallery’s portraits of the Leeds-born Mr and Mrs Marshall who united Leeds communities in the 18th century by employing them in flax-spinning mills and providing education.  We wanted to “thread” the different communities of Leeds together! So, we encouraged our Light Night visitors to write what they liked best about the city and trail their knitting to where they lived on a map.

Over in the Treasures of the Brotherton, we played recordings from the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. We used touch-sensitive LED lamps to illuminate archives belonging to famous poets who are or were related to Leeds in some way. Tony Harrison, Geoffrey Hill, Helen Mort and the University’s first Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage, could be heard reading their own work while each of their manuscripts were illuminated. The combination of a dark room with poems glowing in white proved to be an atmospheric, sensory experience. In fact, one visitor was so inspired by seeing some of Tony Harrison’s archive on display that she is considering applying to study a Masters here at the University!

Light Night wasn’t the only attraction. Visitors to the Treasures of the Brotherton, many of them first-timers, were bowled over by the beauty, depth and breadth of the collections on display. The Travelling Library stopped many people in their tracks. One lady, whose children and grandchildren had attended the University, completely fell in love with our exhibitions.

Everything is packed away now but we’re already looking ahead to 2018!

And the winner is…

Congratulations to Zoe Carlon winner of the FUAM Graduate Art Prize!

On the evening of 27 September we welcomed back judges Nathalie Levi, David Salinger and Jane Winfrey to announce the winner of the 5th FUAM Graduate Art Prize. The prize supported by the Friends of University Art & Music (FUAM), rewards the artistic excellence of the top students completing studies in Design and Fine Art at the University of Leeds in 2017.

The exhibition has been a great hit with our gallery visitors. All four artists produced such high quality works we don’t know how the judges managed to come to a decision!

They chose Zoe Carlon’s paintings and charcoal drawings as the overall winner of the £250 prize. Zoe’s work comes from her observations of vacant, transitory spaces and is developed from her interest in the idea of the ‘non-place’. Zoe gave a presentation about her work to an intrigued audience. Everyone was fascinated to hear about her journey as an artist in the School of Fine Art here at the University. After Zoe’s talk everyone rushed back into the exhibition eager to see her work again.

FUAM Collage

Olivia Loker was announced as the ‘people’s choice’ winner for her collage works on popular culture – thank you to everyone who got involved with the vote!

This annual prize rewards the artistic excellence of students completing studies in the School of Design and in the School Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. The four exhibiting artists were selected by our expert panel of judges, based on their work at their undergraduate degree shows this June.

Artists Zoe Carlon (Fine Art), Lucy Davidson (Art and Design), Miranda Jones (Art and Design) and Olivia Loker (Fine Art) produced fantastic work and we wish them the very best of luck in their future careers. We’re sure they all have great success ahead of them!

Who are FUAM?

For those of you not already aware of the fantastic contribution made by FUAM (Friends of University Art and Music), they were established in 1989 to support The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery and the University’s Concert Series. Funds raised go towards purchasing artworks for the collection and supporting professional concerts.

Membership is open to all. FUAM members enjoy special preview talks for all Gallery exhibitions, as well a varied programme of lectures, recitals, visits and events, organised in connection to art and music.

Acquisitions made possible by FUAM’s incredible support include Some Travel Alone I (2011) by Pip Dickens, Octopus (2013) by Kim Diamond and An offshore scene in a stiff breeze (undated) by Thomas Rowlandson.

These works accompany the Graduate Art Prize Show on display until 4 November. There is still plenty of time to come along and see if you agree with our judges’ pick!

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.

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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

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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.

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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 c.evans@leeds.ac.uk.