‘Austin Wright: Emerging Forms’ Exhibition Launch

On Tuesday 21 November we welcomed visitors to celebrate the opening of our new special exhibition, Austin Wright: Emerging Forms. Guests were treated to some personal insights into the artist and his life by his son, Crispin Wright, and an opportunity to explore the incredible works on display.

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The evening opened with a private viewing for FUAM members who listened to curator Layla Bloom talk about the artworks on display. We then welcomed visitors to the public launch with an introduction from Stella Butler, University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, and some words from Crispin Wright which delighted the audience .

Austin Wright was a Gregory Fellow at the University of Leeds from 1961-1964. The exhibition explores the development of his practice and his reputation in the art world between 1955-75. Wright began practicing as an artist quite late in his life after being bluntly told by Henry Moore to ‘just get on with it’.

Through his drawings and sculptures, visitors can see how Wright’s work developed. In the 1950s he focused on dynamic human figures and in the 1960s, during the Gregory Fellowship, he shifted towards more abstract forms. Following his service in the Second World War he moved to Yorkshire where he drew inspiration from his surroundings and the landscape. The exhibition thus focuses on Wright’s time in Yorkshire as a key period in his career.

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The exhibition displays drawings, maquettes and sculptures made by Wright, many of which have been generously loaned by his family. The distinctive aluminium sculptures hanging in the Gallery were intended to hang within the landscapes which inspired their creation. We imagine this would been quite a spectacular sight! Our guests were particularly taken by these works.

Following such a wonderful launch evening, which was marked by enthusiastic responses and discussion, we invite you to come along and explore this archive of Austin Wright’s work. This exhibition will be on display in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery until 17 March 2018.


Rediscovering Herbert Read

Photographic portraits of Herbert Read
Image credit Leeds University Library

Recent cataloguing work has highlighted undiscovered gems in the Herbert Read archive.

Sir Herbert Edward Read (1893-1968) was an art historian, poet, literary critic, philosopher and anarchist. Born in Yorkshire, he lived at Stonegrave House near York for much of his life. He maintained a strong connection with the University of Leeds up until his death in 1968.

Special Collections acquired Read’s extensive library and much of his archive during the 1990s.  A lot of the material has been catalogued, but a series of files remained unlisted.

We were recently able to record this material due to generous support from the Strachey Trust.  An inventory of the contents of 84 boxes of archives was created, with records now available online.

The material discovered in this collection is exceptional. Letters, manuscripts and photographs show the extent of Read’s influence on artistic and literary life over many years.

Files cover key literary and artistic figures of the 20th century.  They include letters from people as diverse as E.M. Forster, Leonard Woolf & the Hogarth Press, T. S. Elliot, and Jon Silkin. There is also correspondence with artists Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Hans Richter and Naum Gabo.

The collection indicates how Read helped shape artistic and literary sensibilities at home and abroad. Letters from Peggy Guggenheim show Read encouraging her to bequeath her collection to the Tate, while correspondence with publishers highlights Read’s influence as an editor. A long series of letters from Bonamy Dobree (Professor of English Literature at Leeds, from 1936 to 1955) show Read’s prominence in the development of Gregory Fellowships at the University.

The Dobree correspondence covers the years 1925 – 1968 and is an important record of their relationship. The letters demonstrate, in great detail, their collaborative work on the London Book of English Verse (1953): evidence of the creation of a national literature in action.

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!

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.

Exploring the work and world of György Gordon

There is only one month left to enjoy ‘György Gordon (1924-2005) A retrospective’. Find out more about the exhibition, and exciting upcoming events in this blog.

The exhibition explores the life and work of Hungarian-born painter György Gordon. Gordon settled in Wakefield after escaping as a refugee from Hungary during the autumn of 1956. The exhibition includes paintings and drawings spanning the 1950s-1990s reflecting on Gordon’s life and artistic journey, from his experience as a refugee to later work exploring isolation, alienation, and old age.

We have two exciting talks coming up to give even further context to the exhibition before it closes. On the 15th February Dr James Hamilton, author of the catalogue essay, is joining us to give a free lecture that will explore Gordon’s Hungarian roots, and touch on the influences he received in Hungary, and in Britain from some of his fellow Hungarians who were also forced to flee their country.

Peter Murray at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. (Background) Jonathan Borofsky, Molecule Man 1+1+1, 1990. Private Collection courtesy YSP © Marc Atkins. Image courtesy Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Photo © Jonty Wilde’

The second special talk we have in February is from Peter Murray CBE, founding and Executive Director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park. On 20th February Peter Murray will talk about his friend and collaborator György Gordon and the evolution of culture in Wakefield and across West Yorkshire. This event will also include a Q&A session where audience questions are welcomed.

György Gordon (1924 – 2005) A retrospective

On Tuesday 18 October, 372 people attended the opening reception of the Gallery’s latest exhibition, ‘György Gordon (1924 – 2005) A retrospective’.

Peter Murray CBE, friend of the artist and the founding and Executive Director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, paid a touching tribute to Gordon who fled the Hungarian Uprising in 1956 and eventually settled in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
Matthew Winterlich whose photographs of György Gordon feature in the exhibition was also there to provide warm anecdotes and key context to this remarkably talented yet humble Hungarian-born, Yorkshire-adopted artist.
The crowds learned how Gordon gained his diploma in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest in 1953, however he soon fled his native country following the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. After a failed attempt to take refuge in America, and a short period in London, Gordon moved to Wakefield and took up post as Lecturer at the College of Art in 1964 where he taught for over 20 years. Calm and gentle in person, Gordon used art to express the dramatic personal and political turmoil he had experienced as a younger man.
The retrospective exhibition includes paintings and drawings spanning the 1950s-1990s. Visitors can see Gordon’s life and artistic journey in the works in front of them, from his experience as a refugee to his later explorations of isolation, alienation and old age.
An exhibition catalogue with an essay by Dr James Hamilton is available in the Gallery and online for £2.
The György Gordon (1924 – 2005) A retrospective exhibition runs until Saturday 25 February, 2017.

Collections Update

Collections Assistant, Laura Millward, talks about her fellowship work funded by the ‘Understanding British Portrait Network’.


I am a few days into a 30 day research fellowship funded by the ‘Understanding British Portrait Network’ (http://www.britishportraits.org.uk). Although it’s still early days, I have discovered a few interesting facts relating to the University’s pastel portraits of the Leeds industrialist John Marshall (1765-1845) and his wife Jane (1771 to 1847), produced by John Russell (1745-1806) in 1802. I had read from various sources that John was born at his father’s draper’s shop at Number 1 Briggate, so one of my first visits was to the Leeds Local History Library. It was here I was able to look at early insurance maps of the city centre, which included the street numbers and I discovered that Number 1 Briggate is now The Cosmopolitan Hotel. I have spent time looking through the Marshall business papers held in the University’s Special Collections and through chatting with colleagues in Special Collections, I have met other researchers of the Marshalls, including Rebecca Bowd and Dr Barbara Hahn. Rebecca told me about the remains of John Marshall’s first mill in Adel which I am planning on visiting.

Last week I visited the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum where I viewed the journals of John Russell. John Russell toured Yorkshire between 1790 and 1806, so I was hoping he had made a few notes on his encounter with the Marshalls; unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Russell did mention the Leeds surgeon Dr William Hey, who he stayed with in Woodhouse. I would assume the Marshalls were part of the same social circle as Hey in Leeds and were introduce to the artist via Hey or quite possibly another Leeds mill owner Richard Paley, whose portrait by Russell (produced same year as Marshalls) is held at Leeds Art Gallery, although further research is required.

John Russell was born in Guildford and the Guildford Museum has the largest collection of portraits by the artist. The Assistant Curator, Andrew Longworth, very kindly showed me many of the portraits which were in the museum’s store and the files related to them. The museum also has pastels and an easel which were owned by John Russell, which were fascinating to see. The following day I visited the Heinz Archive at the National Portrait Gallery where I was able to view various files and articles relating to Russell’s portraits and staff had made it possible for me to view another pair of companion portraits and a self-portrait of John Russell.

Come to the Gallery in mid-July, when a new interpretation panel and visitor leaflet relating to the portraits will be available. The research project is also linked to the University of Leeds Public Art Project with events and contemporary art installations at the Gallery and on campus, celebrating Yorkshire’s textile heritage.