Art and Animation: New Perspectives on Special Collections

Tue 12 Sep 2023 - Sat 16 Dec 2023

Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery
University of Leeds, Parkinson Building
Woodhouse Lane


About the event

Experience medieval manuscript fragments and historic coins in new ways. This display showcases the creative engagement of researchers and artists with challenging collections held by the University.

Colourful, cutting-edge new works of art can be experienced alongside the rarely-seen ancient coins and medieval manuscripts that inspired them, in a new display in the Education Room at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

Over the past year, researchers and artists have worked together to create imaginative interactions with artefacts whose fragility, size and complexity otherwise prevents hands-on public engagement, as part of the Sadler Seminar Series sponsored by the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute at the University of Leeds.

Fragments of beautifully scribed medieval manuscripts in books belonging to the Ripon Cathedral Library have inspired two new series of works on display. Unceremoniously recycled to bind books in later centuries, these fragments are “stowaways” from the past, obscured under layers of paste and paper and covered in text, decorated initials, music and doodles.

A series of multispectral pseudocolour images – used in research and restoration to reveal marks and sketches that are invisible to the human eye – paint the fragments in startling new colours, reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s repeated screenprints or a psychedelic lightshow.

Artist Alice Fox has created collagraphs from modern packaging, with layer upon layer of texture and tone in her irregularly-shaped prints suggesting the scars, creases, folds, tears and holes that the original fragments have suffered.

The spectacular Winchester Coin Cabinet was compiled in the 18th century and bought by the University in 1954. An animation by Dan Cohen opens up the Cabinet and brings new perspectives on some of its contents, whose rarity and fragility make repeated handling impossible. A first-century BCE Iron Age gold stater, an English 11th century penny, a siege token from Pontefract, and a Dutch non-conformist medal are among the coins whose stories of conflict, resistance and cultural identity are unpicked and brought to life.

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