Range of absorbing First World War talks to continue at Leeds Art Gallery

Picture caption: Herbert Read, 'An Old Soldier', (1917); ink and watercolour on paper (sketchbook drawing). Courtesy of Ben Read.

A series of fascinating monthly talks on art and the First World War that opened in October to a capacity audience is set to continue today with a talk that sheds new light on the impact the First World War had on Henry Moore.

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’ opens new regional perspectives on the impact the War had on key regional cultural figures, through the series that unrolls over the next few months until May 2015.

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 audience 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 Henry Moore, Herbert Read, CRW Nevinson and JB Priestley, which really is something not to miss out on."

November’s talk will focus on the work of famous Yorkshire-born sculptor Henry Moore, in ‘Insufferable Agony: Henry Moore and Reverberations of the First World War’ on 4 November from 6-7pm. Dr Alice Correia who was The Henry Moore Foundation Research Fellow at Tate, looks at how Moore’s wartime experience as a young man penetrated his subsequent work, despite Moore’s own denial and his silence on the subject, Moore’s Underground ‘Shelter’ drawings of the Second World War brought him to national prominence, but do his haunting, chiselled ‘Masks’ of the late 1920’s carry echoes of the horror of being gassed; do the carved female figures of the 1930s reflect suppressed anxieties?

In December Ben Read sheds new light on his father Herbert Read’s heroic First World War service, when he reveals previously unpublished drawings his father made in the trenches. ‘Ambush and Retreat: Herbert Read and the Experience of the First World War’, on 2 December 6-7pm, offers insights into how the war-time experiences of this Yorkshire-born, eminent cultural commentator, poet and essayist, forged his later opposition to militarism, internationalist peace-campaigning and anarchist outlook.

The 2015 programme begins on 20 January (6-7pm) with ‘Nevinson: Bad Boy Modernist’, when Sue Malvern unpicks the work of C.R.W Nevinson, who produced some of the most iconic images of the First World War exposing some of contradictions in his politics and art practice. Then on 17 February Tom Steele explores modernist art, literature and culture during the war years looking at what happened ‘back home’ at the radical Leeds Art Club, 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 Art Club’, again from 6-7pm.

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 2015, 6-7 pm, Neil Hanson traces Priestley’s personal odyssey through his writings on war - as an enthusiastic volunteer in the First World War, and then a post-war transformation that would ultimately make him one of the most influential voices for peace and disarmament.

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 the Context’ the origins of the commission by the Vice Chancellor Sir Michael Sadler will be discussed by social historian Ann C Brook on 21 April 2015 (6-7pm).

Rounding off the programme on 12 May 2015, 6-7pm, is a talk by Juliet MacDonald who is Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the University of Leeds. In ‘From the Shelves: Contemporary Art and the First World War Archive’, MacDonald describes 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.

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. Nevinson and Gill are not from the North, but Nevinson is well represented at Leeds Art Gallery and Gill’s Leeds war memorial is an early example of making explicit the tensions between commemoration and critique.

"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, (adjacent to the Henry Moore Institute) is open as follows:

Monday & Tuesday 10am to 5pm

Wednesday 12pm to 5pm

Thursday & Saturday 10am to 5pm

Sunday 1pm to 5pm

Closed on bank holidays.

Admission to the gallery is free.

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.

Dr RICHARD CORK is an award-winning art critic, historian, broadcaster and curator. Formerly Art Critic of The Evening Standard and Chief Art Critic of The Times, he now writes for The Financial Times and broadcasts regularly on BBC radio and TV. He was Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge University in 1989-90, and Henry Moore Senior Fellow at the Courtauld Institute, 1992-5. He has acted as a judge for the Turner Prize and curated major exhibitions at Tate, the Hayward Gallery, the Barbican Art Gallery, the Royal Academy and other European venues. Cork is the author of many books on modern art, including ‘A Bitter Truth: Avant-Garde Art and the Great War’, winner of the Art Fund Award in 1995. In 2011 he was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy.

Dr ALICE CORREIA was The Henry Moore Foundation Research Fellow at Tate, where she catalogued and researched Tate's collection of 74 Moore sculptures as part of a larger research project: "Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity", an on-line scholarly publication of commissioned essays addressing a range of issues concerning Moore's materials, working practices, critical reputation and public persona. Her doctorate in Art History is from the University of Sussex, and she is currently a Researcher in the School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford, examining the legacies of Indian partition in contemporary art.

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 SUE MALVERN lectures in history of art at the University of Reading. She is the author of 'Modern Art, Britain, and the Great War. Witnessing, Testimony and Remembrance' (Yale University Press, 2004) which was a finalist for the 2006 Historians of British Art Book Prize. Her research interests include art and war in the 20th and 21st centuries, especially public monuments and memorials, and she is part of the 'War, Gender and Visual Culture Network'.

As well as teaching at the Courtauld Institute, art historian BEN READ was Deputy Witt Librarian there until 1990, when he became Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Leeds. At Leeds he was Director of the MA Sculpture Studies programme, under the auspices of the Henry Moore Foundation, from 1990 to 1997. He is a former chairman of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, and of the Leeds Art Fund, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

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