2017, what a year it’s been!

It’s been another bumper year of diverse events and exhibitions in the Galleries.

Over in the Treasures of the Brotherton, our exhibitions have changed from Shakespeare in Yorkshire to the British community in 1917 Russia to cookbooks and their collectors throughout the ages. Such a varied range of themes has inspired fascinating lunchtime talks and innovative interactive events including setting the table for a medieval banquet and Baroque musical concerts.

Perhaps one of the most memorable evenings of 2017 was the annual Museums at Night event in May. We joined forces with The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery on the other side of Parkinson Court and provided a variety of thought-provoking activities based on our Caught in the Russian Revolution: The British Community in Petrograd, 1917 – 1918 exhibition. There were spine-tingling pop-up choir performances of Rachmaninov’s Vespers which were banned in Soviet Russia, following the Russian Revolution. We also had a creative writing workshop; dramatic readings by stage@leeds which drew upon striking eyewitness accounts of the Russian Revolution; drop-in embroidery craft, inspired by a precious piece of embroidery on display in the ‘Saved in the Russian Revolution’ exhibition and Rachmaninov’s stirring music was available to listen to on individual sets of headphones.

A night to remember!

Museums at Night 207

In The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery we have had a year of Yorkshire sculpture with exhibitions celebrating two of the University’s Gregory Fellows, and a fantastic FUAM Graduate Art Prize show showcasing the talents of our recent Fine Art and Art and Design graduates.

The prestigious and pioneering Gregory Fellowship scheme began at the University in 1950 under the patronage of Eric Craven Gregory, Chair of Bradford-based printers Percy Lund Humphries. Fellowships were undertaken in poetry, music, painting and sculpture. Kenneth Armitage: Sculpture and Drawing of the 1950s formed part of a programme of exhibitions and events across Leeds that continue to celebrate the centenary of Kenneth Armitage’s birth in 2016. Visitors engaged with Armitage’s striking figures in an artist-led workshop creating interlinking wire sculptural forms. Austin Wright: Emerging Forms, currently on display, explores the artist’s Fellowship as a key period for his practice through an incredible body of work. Seeing the huge aluminium sculptures hanging from the ceiling is certainly a first for the Gallery!

We celebrated the fantastic paintings by Zoe Carlon (Fine Art), overall judges’ winner of the FUAM Graduate Art Prize. Zoe’s works were displayed alongside finalists Olivia Loker (Fine Art), Lucy Davidson (Art and Design) and Miranda Jones (Art and Design). We were impressed with the quality of all the works!

2017 Gallery exhibitions

October saw the Galleries coming together to join the multi-arts and light festival Light Night, celebrated across the city of Leeds. In the Art Gallery we ‘connected the Marshall threads’ with artist Alice Clayden who taught over 100 visitors how to finger-knit and contribute to a unique textile installation. ‘Voices of Light and Dark’ echoed through the Treasures Gallery, treating visitors to a special display of illuminated poetry from the archives of Special Collections and the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. A very moving experience for many.

Light Night 2017

We’re sure you’ll agree that it has been a fantastic year for the Galleries and we already have lots of exciting events and exhibitions planned for 2018.

See you in the New Year!

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.

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.

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.

Cooking up a Storm in the Digitisation Studio

Rosie Dyson from our Digitisation Studio gives us an up-date on the team’s activities.

It’s all go for the Digital Content Team as preparation gets under way for the opening of the next changing exhibition in the Treasures Gallery – ‘Cooks And Their Books’.

The Digitisation Assistants have been busy creating images for a variety of exhibition purposes; preservation, marketing, design and information. Images created in the Digitisation Studio will feature on the Digital Library, walls and plinths in the Treasures Gallery and on the exhibition tablets.  The tablets are also known as digital labels and give additional supporting information. The Digital Content Team are already working with the Collections and Engagement Team to organise images for the changing exhibition that follows Cookery.

The last changing exhibition ‘Caught in the Russian Revolution’ was a great success and the Digitisation Assistants enjoyed working with curator Richard Davies to create a visual feast. It was refreshing to see items with an actual size of a 6 x 4 cm photograph blown up to the size of a wall. The team also designed the newspaper cutting collage that featured on one wall and created an accompanying map to mark significant locations.

Special Collections closes to the public from 21–30 August for the annual “Action Week”. During this time it is all hands on deck, as time is given to essential works that are difficult to carry out during open hours. The Digital Content Team plan to reorganise the Studio. This will improve workflow and allow the team to accommodate some exciting new pieces of kit – watch this space for more information! The move is being carefully planned and research has been carried out on other institutions to gain tips for best practice.

One of the next phases of work for the Digital Content Team is the busy Online Course Readings period of eligibility checking, scanning and uploading book and journal extracts to the newly revamped Minerva VLE. Last year alone the Studio alone scanned over 1000 chapters!

Training notebook
Kathleen Raven’s nursing and midwife training notebooks

Recent additions to the Digital Library include Kathleen Raven’s nursing and midwifery training notebooks and complete versions of the BC MS medieval manuscripts.

Medieval manuscript
Floral border in medieval manuscript, folio 61r.
Also known as ‘Textualis Rotunda.’