‘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.


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.

All Change!

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

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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.

Launching into a new exhibition

On 1 March a substantial crowd came to the unveiling of our new exhibition in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery.

LRA Exh launch

On Weds 1 March, around 200 people gathered outside the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, all eagerly awaiting the launch of the new special exhibition. Caught in the Russian Revolution: The British Community in Petrograd, 1917-1918 showcases eyewitness accounts in the form of diaries, letters, photographs and objects from the Leeds Russian Archive to explore what happened to British people living in St Petersburg during the tumultuous events of 1917.

Stella Butler introduced the evening with a speech praising the work of Richard Davies, the curator of the exhibition and archivist of the Leeds Russian Archive. Richard himself then took to the podium and gave an eloquent, insightful speech, thanking the academics and volunteers who have collaborated with him over the years. Richard also gave visitors a ‘virtual tour’ of the objects on display in the gallery and highlighted the continuing impact of the Russian Revolution in world politics today. There was much applause.  Visitors then crowded round the exhibition cases and afterwards enjoyed refreshments in Parkinson Court.

A lively programme of events accompanies the exhibition, including free lectures that explore everything from Russian Art and theatre to life in St Petersburg/Petrograd in 1917.  Please visit the Treasures of the Brotherton events webpage for more information.

Caught in the Russian Revolution: The British Community in Petrograd, 1917-1918 is open until 31 July 2017.