Recommendation: Leeds University Library Galleries

The Parkinson building at the University of Leeds campus is iconic and has Grade II* listed status. 

But did you know within this building is two fantastic galleries?

The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery is an art gallery and the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery showcases archival records from Leeds Special Collections.

Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery courtesy of Leeds University Library Galleries
Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery courtesy of Leeds University Library Galleries

The university has had an art gallery since 1970, with improvements made over time largely thanks to generous donors like Stanley and Audrey Burton who the gallery was named after in 2008. The gallery showcase works from the university’s exceptional art collection which includes paintings and sculpture. There are 3 rooms within the gallery, with the central space primarily dedicated to the university’s collection. The room left of the central gallery is the Education room. In the past this room has showcased work relating to gallery outreach and university projects like Footsteps into Art, which was a 3-year project working with local primary school children to increase their art knowledge, skills and confidence. On the right is the temporary exhibition space, which in the past has showcased works by Michael Lyons’ and Maurice de Sausmarez.

The gallery also has a public art trail around the University of Leeds campus; you can find the map online here.

At the other end of the Parkinson building is the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, which opened in 2016 and showcases archival records from Leeds Special Collections. The scope of the archive is wide but there are some key collections which have national or international importance:

  • English Literature Collection
  • Cookery Collection
  • Romany Collection
  • Leeds Russian Archive
  • Liddle Collection

Like the Stanley & Audrey Burton gallery, it has 3 rooms: central exhibition space, temporary exhibition space and education room. One of my favourite items on display is this beautiful Genealogical History Role (1461 -1483) which “is nearly 18 metres long when fully rolled out. The text is written on 39 animal skins pasted together and decorated with 64 tiny painted roundels. It tells the history of the world from the six days of the Creation to the reign of the French king Louis XI.”

Genealogical History Role (1461 -1483) courtesy of Leeds University Library Galleries.

Alas due to Covid-19 the galleries are currently closed until further notice, however, throughout the pandemic they have been creating more digital content for the public to enjoy at home, with not one but three online exhibitions currently available!

Your Art Gallery

University of Leeds Through The Ages

Virtual FUAM Graduate Art Prize Exhibition 2020

This painting of Runswick Bay by Mark Senior is another favourite piece of mine and is currently in the Your Art Gallery Exhibition.

Mark Senior, ‘Runswick Bay’, 1924 courtesy of University of Leeds

The Galleries haven’t let being closed stop them from hosting events, and they’ve been conducting a lot of online events including Sketch Club, Two Minute Treasure and Get Creative: Painting with Fibres.

The galleries are a wonderful cultural hub in the University of Leeds campus for students and the general public alike. If you’re ever in the area, I would highly recommend making the galleries high on your tourist to see list!

For up-to-date information on the galleries please visit their website here.

Have you visited the galleries before? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Sources

British Listed Buildings: Parkinson Building

Historic England: Parkinson Building

University of Leeds: Leeds University Galleries

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