Shape, Colour, Texture

Education Officer Claire Evans looks back on the Gallery's recent schools workshop 'The Science of Colour'

Being located in a University there are always a lot of opportunities to think about the partnership between art and a number of other subjects such as Maths, English, History and Science.

This April the Gallery's Education Officer teamed up once again with Claire Jones the Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and work experience student Ruchi Mittal to provide workshops to secondary school pupils that celebrated the science in art. This was part of the University's Annual Festival of Science.

This year the focus was on the chemistry behind paint. Using art works in the Gallery such as Landscape with Cottage and Windmill by Jean-Babtist-Camille Corot and examples from the University's historical chemical collection we encouraged the students to consider what qualities we look for in paint, where people from Corot's time and before, got their paint, and how they might have been made. The pupils were able to look at some of the pigments in their raw form and gained an understanding of how the pigments might be created from these elements (mostly metal for paint making) and compounds. They then went on to learn how pigments are combined with binders to create mixtures i.e. paint.

The most popular part of the workshops was where the pupils had the opportunity to grind up their own pigments and add them to 3 different binders to create their own paints. Unfortunately, while they clearly enjoyed the process, the majority decided that the range of colours produced and ease of use of modern synthetic paints meant that they would still be popping to the local art shop to buy the paint for their own masterpieces!!

  Science, COlour, Texture - schools workshop


While the pupils hopefully learnt lots of new things during their visit, Claire, Ruchi and I also learnt a lot. Did you know that to make egg tempera, you need to not only separate the egg yolk from the white but you also need to remove the yolk membrane by first drying, and then pinching it off, any egg white or membrane left will leave the paint prone to cracking! Also you only get a tiny amount of paint from one egg - how many eggs do you think Michelangelo used to create one of his panel paintings?....

Staff Picks IV

Customer Service Assistant at the Edward Boyle Library, Kate Green, shares her Gallery favourite this month. Sometimes it's all in the detail...

Portrait of Edmund Gosse, 1886, by John Singer Sargent

The University's art collection contains many remarkable paintings that I enjoy for many different reasons, but I do like the Portrait of Edmund Gosse because his glorious moustache makes me chuckle - a moustache that, in all its Titian beauty, looks like it's about to make him sneeze. Sometimes the nose changes from a twitch to a hoity wiggle, as his chest inflates and he takes on a more pompous pose fitting a man sitting for the greatest portrait painter of his generation - John Singer Sargent.

Portrait of Edmund Gosse by John Singer Sargent

Portrait of Edmund Gosse, John Singer Sargent, 1886. Oil on canvas. Image © University of Leeds.

Gosse had every cause to feel proud in his own right, he was one of the most prolific and powerful writers of his time and his reputation was such that he was even asked to give a series of lectures in America in the 1880s. Gosse, as well as being a poet, writer, and man of letters, was also a librarian, getting his first job at 17 as a clerk in the library of the British Museum, later progressing to the role of librarian of the House of Lords (1904) - I often wonder if the idea of his portrait being owned by the University of Leeds Library would tickle him?

Each time the humour turns to conceit in the painting, I look again and see a man who, despite his wife's best efforts that morning, has ended up with a crumbled suit, tightly pulled neck scarf, and uncombed hair. Osbert Sitwell wrote of Gosse's  'sense of the ludicrous', his 'gaiety and dash', his 'fighting spirit-a nature perhaps a little feline', and his beautiful blue eyes that sparkle from this animated painting as if he too is chortling at his own likeness.

Find this work by John Singer Sargent and others in the Gallery's online Catalogue, or why not pop into the Gallery and see this painting for yourself?

Staff Picks III

Art Gallery Volunteer Russell Forester shows us that small really can be beautiful as he reveals his favourite works from the University's Art Collections.

The Edward Westoby Miniatures

Tucked away in a corner of the Gallery space here at  The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery  is, in my view, a treasure trove of the most delicate, precise and charming paintings in miniature by Lincolnshire born artist Edward Westoby. The skilfully painted and sketched miniatures offer a wide glimpse into the world that Westoby lived in; through sketches of local Yorkshire scenery, to sometimes playful depictions of characters and people of the 1800's.

One of the portraits which stands out for me depicts William Spencer Cavendish, the sixth Duke of Devonshire. A watercolour, delicately applied onto ivory, fully captures with brilliant detail the character of a typical well respected, well presented and somewhat influential gentleman of the 19th century. I read Cavendish as somewhat arrogant and pompous displaying himself finely turned out in front of what I assume to be the estates which he lords over: but how do you view this portrait? One of the interesting factors in Westoby's portraits is that they invite the viewer to explore the subjects depicted and try to gain an insight into their character, whether the impression you get matches up with the artists intentions or not is all part of the fun.

William Spencer Cavendish, the sixth Duke of Devonshire

Edward Westoby, William Spencer Cavendish, the sixth Duke of Devonshire. Watercolour on Ivory. Date unknown. Harland Gift 2002. Image © University of Leeds Art Collection

On a slightly more intimate note is the portrait of Cornet G.W. Tireman, a soldier serving in the Yorkshire Hussars. An emotional keepsake or gift that the soldier might possibly have commissioned to give to his family, or beloved, before setting out to war, knowing that he may possibly not return. The scale and delicate nature of the portrait on ivory tugs at the heart strings as one thinks of the reasons behind creating such an intimate likeness in this portable locket, or pendant-sized treasure.

Cornet G.W. Tireman, Yorkshire Hussars,

Edward Westoby, Cornet G.W. Tireman, Yorkshire Hussars, Watercolour on Ivory, before 1820. Harland Gift 2002. Image © University of Leeds Art Collection

For those with an interest in a slightly more macabre morbid subject matter, one of Westoby's more profound works is that which depicts his father and mother, John and Sarah Westoby, on their deathbeds: Something which may seem unfamiliar and even uncomfortable to us today but back in the 1800's was a much practiced tradition. A forbearer to the Victorian tradition of post mortem photography, a morbid but fascinating art form that is slowly been lost to time, these works differ from the rest as they make you consider the artist's emotions and the motivation behind the work, rather than simply that of the subject. As a final glimpse of a loved one and act of remembrance these paintings, minimalistic in content and tone, still manage to capture as much detail and emotion as Westoby's other works.

John Westoby on his deathbed,

Edward Westoby, John Westoby on his deathbed, Watercolour on Ivory, 1827. Harland Gift 2002. Image © University of Leeds Art Collection

Sarah Westoby on her deathbed, Edward Westoby

Edward Westoby, Sarah Westoby on her deathbed. Watercolour of Ivory. Date Unknown. Harland Gift 2002. Image © University of Leeds Art Collection

Personally these three works are my favourite miniatures in the collections here at the University but it has been said to me before that I have a rather morbid taste when it comes to art relating to death. Each to their own after all...

Why not come on down to the Gallery and catch a glimpse of these treasures and possibly even choose your own favourite?

See more works by Edward Westoby on our collections pages

Staff Picks II

Gallery Attendant and Special Collections Assistant Sarah Butler selects a few of her favourite things from the gallery's 'Images of Industry' display which runs until February 22nd 2014.

These are a few of my favourite things...

Just to clarify: the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery isn't planning to devote an exhibition to The Sound of Music! I just couldn't resist applying Julie Andrew's immortal words to the Images of Industry display currently on show in the Education Area.

From Maria Hartley's exquisite ink drawings of Yorkshire's mills and factories to Jacob Kramer's powerful chalk and pastel work depicting Russian peasants hauling a barge up the Volga, the exhibition contains gems from both local and international artists who have been influenced by industry in some way. We even have an original, state-commissioned poster extorting the benefits of trade unions by the Soviet Constructivist artist, Aleksandr Rodchenko.

However, if I had to choose my favourite pieces, I would opt for the David Gentleman lithographs. In Quayside at Mistley, a smattering of delicate white swans softens the cold expanse of the metallic blue water. The anchor chain framing the bottom of the image in the foreground pays tribute to the area's ship-building heritage, as does the boat which features in the left-hand corner of the picture. In the background, pastel-coloured buildings where barley was turned into malt pierce the sky with their pointed chimneys.


'Keyside at Mistley' By David Gentleman. (c) The Artist

David Gentleman, Quayside at Mistley, 1966, Lithograph, (c) David Gentleman.

Quayside at Mistley provides a glorious contrast to the rusty hues of the lithograph hung above it, Tide Mill at Woodbridge. The grain of the wood and each slat of the mill's corrugated iron roof have been so meticulously rendered as to appear almost tangible. The mill dominates the scene with its size and bold colouring. Indeed, the small boats and crane melt into the white and grey fields in the background. Perhaps the mill takes centre stage because it was the last working tide mill in the country? Interestingly, the tide mill was closed around the time this artwork was produced, but in 1968, it was saved and by 1973, restored and open to the public.

Why don't you come along and pick your own favourite/s before the exhibition closes on 22nd February 2014?


Museums at Night 2014 - Vote for us to win!

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery is in with a chance of winning an artist for an evening in May but we need your votes to try to make it happen.

Museums at Night Vote for us to win

The Connect10 competition to win an artist is part of the 2014 'Museums at Night' festival, when museums, galleries, libraries and heritage sites open their doors for special evening events.   Ten artists will be taking part, including Grayson Perry, Spencer Tunick, Fred Deakin and photographer Rankin.  


Leeds' Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery has made it to the shortlist of venues vying for a unique, interactive evening with the designer and typographer Kelvyn Smith of Mr Smith's Letterpress.  It is competing with:


    William Morris Gallery, London
    Denbighshire Archives and Ruthin Gaol Museum, Ruthin
    Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, London


An online public vote will determine which venue gets the artist - and a winner's bursary of £2,000.


Voting will remain open from 11am on Tuesday 14 January to 5pm on Tuesday 28 January.  


Vote for us here. And tell all your friends to vote too!

Thank you.

The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery & the M&S Company Archive Schools Days

We're working with the M&S Company Archive on the University of Leeds campus, to offer free workshops to schools in the Leeds area.

Burton Gallery Logom&s logo

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery and the M&S Company Archive School Days

gallery 1

Art Sparks

Suitable for KS1 and 2 - up to 90 pupils.

Tuesday 25th, Thursday 27th or Friday 28th February 2014

Monday 12th, Tuesday 14th, Wednesday 15th, Thursday 16th or Friday 17th May 2014

10am - 2:30pm

All Art Sparks workshops are free of charge.

Pupils will participate in complimentary, cross curricular sessions, one at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery and one at the M&S Company Archive during their visit to the University of Leeds campus. The sessions look at art and packaging through colour, shape and texture and explore how artists and designers use these to send messages through their creations. The creative aspect of these sessions will become a third session if 90 pupils are attending.

The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery Session:

gallery2Children through first hand engagement with artworks and a variety of fun activities will explore colour, shape and texture. They will discuss and describe works in terms of their colour, shape and texture and will learn how artists use these techniques to express and represent ideas, moods and objects. They will create an abstract artwork that uses these ideas.

 The M&S Company Archive Session: Biscuit Bonanza

Your class will hunt for colour, shape and texture in the Marks in Time exhibition, and find out how we use these elements to communicate messages through design. They'll also have the opportunity to get hands-on with some choice examples from our extensive collection of biscuit tins. We'll think about how persuasive and descriptive language is used in packaging design, along with colour, shape and texture. Pupils will combine all three to design an M&S biscuit tin that customers won't be able to resist

Please contact us below if you would like more information:

Claire Evans - Education Officer (working Thursdays and Fridays)

Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Parkinson Building, University of Leeds, Leeds. LS2 9JT


T: 0113 343 2777 E:

Caroline Bunce - Education and Outreach Officer

M&S Company Archive, Michael Marks Building, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT

W:   T: 020 8718 1549

or E:

Staff Picks!

A new look at the collections through the eyes of the staff at The University of Leeds. This week English Professor Richard Brown tells us about his favourite work in the gallery...

Roger Fry's Portrait of Nina Hamnett (1918):

Fabric, Form and the Queen of Fitzrovia  

Portait of Nina Hamnett by Roger Fry

This is one of my favourite pictures in the gallery not least because it makes a link between some of my academic interests as a critic of modernist literature and the University's art collections.

It's a large and brightly coloured portrait of a mature young woman dressed in a striking check fabric dress and surrounded by other pieces of boldly artistic fabric and décor. It makes an immediate impact on the viewer from a distance, making you want to come closer and find out what it's all about.  The viewer is interested in the picture and, though its painter, Roger Fry, is most associated with that early twentieth-century modernist doctrine in which form is said to predominate over content in the aesthetic experience, I think it's fair to say that for many people no small part of the interest of this   portrait will be in its subject.

There are a few things it would probably be useful to know by way of background about the painter and the subject of the portrait. 

Roger Fry was an artist, critic and prominent member of the Bloomsbury Group and coined the term "post-impressionism" to describe their works in a famous exhibition in 1910. For many critics this exhibition and date marks the moment in cultural history about which Virginia Woolf famously declared that "On or about 1910 human character changed."

One specific Bloomsbury project in which Fry was involved was that of the Omega workshops, originating in Fitzrovia around 1913, which produced brightly coloured creative prints and various kinds of fabrics. The dress Nina Hamnett is wearing in this picture is made from a fabric designed by Vanessa Bell for the Omega workshops.

There is a Leeds link within this picture too: Fry was in a relationship with Virginia Woolf's married sister Vanessa Bell which broke up 1913 - they had a child Quentin Bell who was First Professor of Fine Art at this University in the 1950s.

The subject of the portrait is Nina Hamnett. Born in 1890, Nina went to Montparnasse, France, in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War. Here she worked as an artist and modelled for and enjoyed relationships with, a number of famous modernist artists. She quickly gained a reputation as a liberated bohemian woman, modelling and dancing in Marie Vassilieff's 'Academie Russe' (which also served as a café when curfews closed the cafés during the war). Among the artists for whom she modelled was sculptor Gaudier-Breszka whose nude marble torso of her, made in 1913, she used as the title of her 1932 autobiography, Laughing Torso.*

The portrait in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery was painted in 1918 when Nina Hamnett was 28 and already a famous veteran of the pre-world war Montparnasse Bohemian art scene. The picture was painted at Durbins, Fry's house near Guildford, where Nina went for weekends, either alone or with other artists such as Mark Gertler and Dolores Courtney.

When Nina's relationship with Fry ended in 1918 she continued to be a prominent figure amongst the artistic bohemia scenes in both Paris and London. In Paris in 1923, for example, Nina organised a series of literary dinners with the critic and editor Ford Madox Ford to assist which the launch of his new journal The English Review. Earlier, in 1922 after the publication of his epoch-making masterpiece Ulysses James Joyce was the top man in the Paris and cultural scene and so too was the top invitee. In her memoir Nina gives an account of their meeting and of Joyce's subsequent approving comment directed at her: 

       "Joyce, I have heard since, paid me a very nice compliment and said I was one of the few vital women that he had ever met." 

In later life Nina became known as the Queen of Fitrovia having later friendships with Augustus John and Dylan Thomas.

In some contrast with this flamboyant lifestyle and reputation, we see Nina in this portrait, as rather a mature, elegant, intelligently self-possessed young woman.  As one critic of her work puts it she seems "a delightful and charming companion".1918, the date of this portrait, was amongst other things the year of women's suffrage, so Nina can also be understood as an iconic woman of that modern age. In fact you could look at her and think. Haven't I seen her before?  And of course you have.  You've seen her every day in political and business meetings, in the universities and the libraries, reading, indeed writing the newspapers and the magazines, in the staffrooms and the hospitals and the publishing houses and the banks and in restaurants, and she's looking after her children in the school playground and at home.  In fact she's pretty, she's cool, she's self-possessed, a no wonder something of a cult hero and style icon for generations of intelligent women students at Leeds ever since.

So I think we are right to be struck by the fabric and form of the portrait and also to be curious about the woman who is the subject of it. It's a beautiful picture, a serious work of portraiture which speaks eloquently of its age and of its subject whose story takes us rapidly and deeply into the heart of twentieth century art and literature.

Dr Richard Brown, School of English, University of Leeds (Leader of the  School of English Modern and Contemporary MA module "The Enigmatic Body of Modernism")

*Laughing Torso (Constable 1932, repr Virago 1984)

En-Vogue and Vision-ary: Chen Man

Chen Man. Love her work or hate it; there is so much more underlying each image than first meets the eye. Sarah Butler tells us more.

A new academic year. A new Gallery exhibition. What better way to find out about China's foremost fashion photographer Chen Man and her dazzling work, than to attend an insightful free talk hosted by The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery!?

David Ball, a Chinese Studies finalist and Chen Man enthusiast presented an eloquent biography of this remarkable young artist before offering his own interpretation of some of her key works.

Four Seasons by Chen Man, 2011, print, © Chen Man

Born in Beijing in 1980, Chen Man is part of the post-1980s, 'Only Child' generation in China. The 'opening up' of the country to the rest of the world during this era and its embracing of consumerism and technological advances as a way of forging links with the West is explored in many of Man's works. Chen Man studied painting at The Central Academy of Fine Art but later graduated in photography. She is renowned today as much for her highly polished advertising campaigns for fashion magazines such as Vogue, as for her dealings with issues of tradition, culture and consumerism in contemporary Chinese society, within her work.

David drew on three images in the current exhibition, Astronaut (2004), Goldfish Master (2004) and Monkey Face (2004) to illustrate the technical processes behind Chen Man's photography and to alert the viewer to the fusion of traditional eastern concepts with futuristic western practices within her work. However, despite her apparent championship of Chinese achievements and ideologies, viewers should be reluctant to politicise Chen Man's work. She has never discussed her views so perhaps her motives are purely aesthetic and financial? Alternatively, Chen Man could be manipulating and challenging the dangerous propaganda rife in western fashion magazines, with its insistence on homogeneity and perfection, by showing how Photoshop can drastically alter a person's looks, using it to emphasise, rather than dilute a models' ethnicity. 

Indeed, I was intrigued to learn that the models in the shots were photographed without make-up or a backdrop and all the fantastical detail we see on the girls' faces is 'painted on' courtesy of Photoshop. Astronaut celebrates Chinese physiognomy as Man creates eyes shaped like watermelon seeds rather than the western 'doe-eyed' look usually preferred by the fashion industry. The homage to Chen Man's heritage continues with the Tang Dynasty style 'moth eyebrows' of the Goldfish Master and the appearance of a goldfish at the top and bottom of the canvas, a symbol of prosperity in China. Furthermore, the make-up of the model in Monkey Face bears semblance to the Monkey mask found in Chinese opera. David also compared the 'goldfish bowl' helmet and rockets in Astronaut to some of the '50s 'propaganda' posters in Communist China. Visitors will recognise many Chinese landmarks in the Young Pioneer series and even the most commercial and capitalist of symbols, the Mickey Mouse ears, is given an oriental twist in Double Mickey (2006) as this hairstyle is very popular among Chinese young women.

After showing us more photographs from Chen Man's different professional 'phases'  - she began with the hyper-real and then turned to commercial photography to make money - David concluded by saying that Chen Man's most recent creative phase has seen her incorporate more fundamental Chinese principles, for example Buddhism and Taoism, even revisiting the practical art of painting. Perhaps age and motherhood has prompted this return to her roots, or maybe, as David suggested, it's simply that she's always thought of herself as more of a painter than a photographer.

Whether using a brush, camera or computer, Chen Man's innovation cannot be disputed. Come along to the Gallery to marvel at her extraordinary vision before the exhibition ends on 15th December.

Visit The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery website for further information.

More examples of Chen Man's work can be seen at

What's your style? Competition!

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery want to know what inspires how you choose to dress and how your style influences who you are. Come and visit our Chen Man exhibition and take some inspiration from these wonderful photographs then send us your own!

style shots

 The subject of how we appear, dress, act that has got us all talking at the gallery in the last few weeks. Take just one glimpse at the strikingly opulent and polished images created by photographer Chen Manand I defy anyone not to think immediately of high end fashion houses, glamorous photo-shoots, the luxury of expensive fabrics and all round decadence.

But, take a closer look at these images and more subtle thoughts and questions begin to emerge. Why are these models (are they models?) wearing these clothes? This make up? What do their surroundings add to the messages woven into each constructed image? What can these images tell us about Chen Man, about her feelings towards the fashion industry and the business of style?  The answers to these questions are complex and many, and far too involved to even begin to answer here. One thing is for certain, however: each and every photograph offers a comment on the subject of Style -  the influences both internal and external, upon each and every one of us, from the economy of the consumer market to the media and our own individual curiosities. Addressed, too, are the subsequent outcomes and consequences that following styles can have upon us and our environment. Such striking images make us think about how we present ourselves, what that says about us to others and how it makes us feel within.

So, do you have a particular style? Something that makes you feel as though you stand out? Or simply makes you feel like you? Is this a conscious thing? Or are you led by trends and the fashions surrounding you? Is it simply a bright yellow satchel, or a pair of red shoes? Or is it a whole look - maybe a period in history that you have chosen to adopt? Perhaps it's less complicated than that, rather a conscious decision to shun trends, to do the total opposite? Or do you really not think about it at all? Whatever your feelings towards taste, style and appearance, however much time you spend in front of the mirror, we all have something to say on the subject. We'd like to know from you just what that is!

As part of our Chen Man exhibition we are asking you, our visitors and readers, to share with us images of your unique style or look? How do you express your individuality, your opinions, your interests, through what you wear? Send us your photos by email to or via twitter @SABGallery and mark them #mystyle. At the end of the exhibition one image will be selected at random and the winner will receive a £40 Urban Outfitters voucher!

Go on, show how us your style...

Spellbinding Bookbinding

Sarah Butler takes a look at our new display in the Gallery's Education Rooms from the Society of Bookbinders.

Bibliophiles rejoice! The Gallery is currently playing host to the International Bookbinding Competition. Formed in Manchester in 1975, the Society of Bookbinders is a UK educational charity that practices and celebrates traditional and contemporary bookbinding. The Society is also devoted to the preservation and conservation of the printed and written word. 

The International Bookbinding Competition, which first took place in 1999, comprises five categories (Fine Binding, Complete Book, Case Binding, Restoration and Historic Binding) and welcomes both professional and non-professional competitors from around the world to enter their creations.

The Shoe House, 2012

2013's fifteen winning entries are displayed in the Gallery to wonderful effect. Each different form of binding is clearly explained and these unique works sit alongside exquisite examples from The University Library Special Collections. One such example, in the Fine Binding category, shows the entrant's submission neighbouring a white pigskin-bound, 1896 edition of the Works of Chaucer with binding designed by William Morris and illustrations by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Incidentally, visitors can explore inside this beautiful copy of Chaucer's Works by using our Turning The Pages kiosk. 

All the entries, both professional and non-professional, display superb craftsmanship and do not look in any way out of place aside treasures such as the first edition Works of Alexander Pope with its elaborate German mosaic historic binding.  However, if I had to choose my favourites, they would be the vibrantly coloured constructions that are The Shoe House and Jasmine. At first glance, they appear to be an exotic fusion of origami and pop-up book but I won't spoil the surprise; you'll have to come to the Gallery to see these gems for yourself before the exhibition ends on 14th October.