11 Feb 2015

Series of absorbing First World War talks continue at Leeds Art Gallery

Picture caption: Leeds author and historian Tom Steele will be speaking at Leeds Art Gallery on Tuesday 17 February.

A series of free monthly talks on the First World War and the impact it had on art and literature continues on Tuesday 17 February 2015 with a talk about the city’s radical and avant-garde Leeds Arts Club and the role it had in keeping the flame of modernism alive during the war years and beyond.

Organised in partnership with Leeds Art Gallery and Legacies of War at the University of Leeds, ‘Art and the First World War: Global to Local’ offers new perspectives on the impact the War had on key cultural figures with a Yorkshire connection or whose work is represented locally.

Join Tom Steele, Leeds author and historian from 6-7pm, as he explores the art, literature and culture during the war years. He will discuss what happened ‘back home’ at the radical Leeds Arts Club, and how it nurtured the voices of the avant-garde through the literary magazine ‘The New Age’, Michael Sadler, and the letters between Herbert Read and Jacob Kramer in ‘Art and Ideas in a Time of War: Herbert Read, Jacob Kramer and the Leeds Arts Club’.

Bradford-born JB Priestley, whose life virtually spanned the 20th century, was one of England’s best-loved literary figures. In ‘Priestley’s Wars’, on 17 March, 6-7 pm, with animated readings from Priestley’s many books, Ilkey-based writer and historian Neil Hanson traces his personal odyssey from his initial volunteering for the Front, to his post-war transformation that would ultimately make him one of the most influential voices for peace and disarmament, and whose Second World War broadcasts rivalled Churchill’s for audience numbers.

In May 1923, papers as far afield as Glasgow and Norfolk carried news of a controversial war memorial being installed in the University of Leeds by sculptor and designer Eric Gill which depicted ‘Christ Driving the Moneychangers from the Temple’. In ‘Art and Commemoration - An Uneasy Relationship: Eric Gill’s The Moneychangers in Context’, Anne C Brook discusses the commission by Vice Chancellor Sir Michael Sadler and its controversial reception on 21 April 2015, 6-7 pm.

Rounding off the programme on 12 May 2015, 6-7pm, is a talk by Juliet MacDonald who is the Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the University of Leeds. In ‘From the Shelves: Contemporary Art and the First World War Archive’, MacDonald enthuses about her explorations of the Liddle Collection at the Brotherton Library, an internationally-recognised collection of diaries, letters, official documents, sketchbooks and other items of personal significance regarding the First World War. MacDonald sets out the process and outcomes of working as a contemporary artist within an historical archive.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"Leeds Museums and Galleries have put together a wide ranging and diverse programme of activities and events relating to the First World War, and it is fantastic that we are providing this series of talks with our partner, Legacies of War at the University of Leeds. Held at Leeds Art Gallery the series investigates the fascinating and sometimes complex relationship between art and the conflict.

"Those in the audiences will be able to find out more from our key speaker at each talk about how the First World War informed the work of a number of famous artists including Eric Gill, Herbert Read, Jacob Kramer and JB Priestley, which really is something not to miss out on."

Dr Claudia Sternberg, Legacies of War strand leader at the University of Leeds, said:

"After starting out with a broader view of British art and war, we want to make connections between the global and the local as well as between the past and the present.

"Moore, Read and Priestley are from Yorkshire, but their work reflects their war experience abroad and resonates internationally. Leeds Arts Club was a highly influential centre for modernist thinking in the 1910s. The Liddle Collection, an important WWI archive for historians, not only contains artwork by those who lived through the war, but also inspires new work by an artist from the region."

For more information regarding Leeds City Council’s First World War programme, please see: www.leeds.gov.uk/WW1heritage

Notes to editors:

Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AA.

Admission to the gallery is free.

Closed on bank holidays. Please see www.leeds.gov.uk/artgallery for up to date opening times.

Leeds Art Gallery holds and exhibits one of the most outstanding collections of modern British art outside London. Leeds Museums and Galleries’ fine art collection is designated by H M Government as of national importance.

The gallery has always tried to support the work of living artists. Early gifts included Lady Butler's Scotland Forever and paintings by the enduringly popular Leeds artist, Atkinson Grimshaw. The early 20th century is represented in multiple holdings by artists such as Stanley Spencer and Walter Sickert, as well as the Camden Town Group and the development of English modernism is shown through key works by Moore, Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Paul Nash, Jacob Epstein and Francis Bacon. Art from the Leeds Collection is often requested to travel to museums across the world, as well as frequent loans to Tate and other national galleries.

Leeds Art Gallery continues to collect contemporary art; recent acquisitions include works by Simon Fujiwara, Becky Beasley, Fiona Rae and Bob & Roberta Smith. Through the generous support of the Henry Moore Foundation, the Gallery has bought many significant sculptures and can boast a modern sculpture collection second only to that of the Tate. The collection also includes a vast and unique archive; both are managed in partnership with the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds.

The internationally acclaimed collection of works on paper at Leeds Art Gallery includes historic watercolours by ever-popular artists such as JMW Turner and John Sell Cotman, prints by Rembrandt, shelter drawings by Henry Moore and work by contemporary artists such as Paula Rego, Rose Garrard and Callum Innes. When not on show these can be seen by appointment in the Print Room; call 0113 247 8256 for information or visit www.leeds.gov.uk/artgallery for details on the programme of exhibitions, events and activities.

University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities.

Legacies of War at the University of Leeds

Legacies of War was established four years ago as a research and public engagement venture in anticipation of the 1914-18 war’s centenary. The project team includes researchers from several Schools within the University’s Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts & Communications: Languages, Cultures and Societies; History; Classics; Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies and Philosophy, Religion & the History of Science.

Information on speakers:

Dr ANNE C. BROOK is an independent scholar whose doctoral research concentrated on the commemoration of the Great War in Huddersfield. Currently she is going backwards chronologically to the origins of the commemoration of the citizen soldier, as well as extending to include other geographical areas. Her interest in commemoration is a broad one, encompassing material from art and architecture, music, and religion, in addition to the narrowly historical; the research also embraces a long-standing fascination with the dynamics of corporate decision making in organisations large and small.

NEIL HANSON, who lives in Ilkley, is the author of several acclaimed works of narrative history: ‘The Custom of the Sea’, ‘The Dreadful Judgement’, ‘The Confident Hope of a Miracle’, ‘First Blitz’ and ‘Escape from Germany’. His critically-acclaimed, best-selling 'The Unknown Soldier' was described by the New York Times as "An unforgettable picture of life in the hottest sectors of the Western Front". He's also written screenplays, thrillers, short stories, a serious novel, a playscript for a musical, travel journalism, and regularly works as a 'ghostwriter'.

Dr JULIET MACDONALD'S work has been exhibited and published in the UK and internationally. Previous residencies have taken place at Drawing Spaces in Lisbon, 2008, and Meantime in Cheltenham, 2012. At PSL in Leeds, she occupied The Drawing Shed in 2010. Her drawings are included in INDA 6: International Drawing Annual and in two issues of TRACEY, the online journal for drawing research. Her most recent show at Huddersfield Art Gallery was entitled trace.[instructions for mapping space], with Rob Lycett and Sophia Emmanioul in 2014.

Dr TOM STEELE is Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow but has now returned to the West Riding. Previously a Tutor Organiser for the WEA in Leeds and then Lecturer in the Department of Adult and Continuing Education at Leeds and Associate Lecturer in the Department of Fine Art , he ended his academic career as Reader in History and Theory of Adult Education at the University of Glasgow. He has published widely on adult education, modern British and European cultural history as well as Alfred Orage and Herbert Read and their circles in Leeds and London.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk

Contact information

Leeds City Council Communications team