Future Legacies: Collections, Collecting and Artists' Books

An exhibition of artists’ books from Special Collections which explores thematic, visual and other formal relationships between books produced over time.

In 2007, artists and academics John McDowall and Chris Taylor curated an extensive exhibition of artists’ books within the original University of Leeds Gallery, bringing together historical material, selected contemporary artists’ books and commissioned works. Loaned from major collections throughout the UK the display examined collections of books as gathered together in libraries, and artists’ books which are in themselves a collection, comprising of inventories, accumulations and typologies.

Since then, the Brotherton Library has purchased and received donations of a substantial number of artists’ books, together with significant examples retrieved from the general shelves such as Ed Ruscha’s Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles. Many of these works have been acquired from artists participating in the International Contemporary Artists’ Book Fair, an event also curated by McDowall and Taylor, held annually in the Parkinson Court from 2007-2013 before relocating to The Tetley centre for contemporary art and learning.

The selection of works exhibited here explores thematic, visual and other formal relationships between books produced centuries ago and some of the contemporary artists’ books. These juxtapositions illustrate how artists and writers over the years have employed the book in their quest to record and present their experiences, connecting subject areas through format, image and text.  This display is just a very small sample of the extraordinary collection of books and artists’ books available to view in Special Collections for our pleasure or research.

Curated in collaboration with Rhiannon Lawrence-Francis, Collections & Engagement Manager, Rare Books & Maps, in the Brotherton Library, this exhibition is one of a number of projects across the city as part of PAGES: Future Potentials / Future Legacies, 2 February -11 June 2017.

The 20th International Contemporary Artists’ Book Fair will take place at The Tetley on 4 & 5 March 2017. A symposium, Future Legacies: collections and collecting artists’ books, will be held in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery on Friday 21 April 2017.

See the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery website for full details.

Image: Sarah Bodman, Flowers in Hotel Rooms Volume II, 2005, inkjet and screenprint. Photography by Melissa Olen.