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Object of the week 384: Rosemary Young, Bull, 1951

NinaPearlman28 June 2019

This blog is written by a team of UCL Museum Studies students – Sarah Waite, Lok Hei Wong, Patricia Roberts and Yiting Fu – and draws upon their research project into the Slade School of Fine art historic sculpture prize, undertaken in collaboration with the UCL Art Museum as part of their MA degree.

See image credits below

We had the fantastic opportunity to focus our Collections Curatorship course project with UCL Art Museum on an area of the Slade collection that is under-researched. During our research, we uncovered this small bronze sculpture in the UCL Art Museum’s store. Bull (1951) was modelled by Rosemary Young (b.1930) , who was a student at the Slade from 1949 to 1953, and then cast by Reg Butler (1913-1931), who taught at the art school. The artwork won the Slade Sculpture Prize in 1951 and is the only prize-winning sculpture retained by the School and now part of UCL Art Museum’s Slade Collection . A highly sought after honour, to receive a Slade prize meant that the student’s work was recognised as exemplary by a panel of the most highly regarded artists and academics in Britain.

Rosemary Young

During her time at the Slade, Young was under the tutorship of Professor A.H. Gerrard, sculpture assistant Frederick Edward McWilliam and artist Reg Butler.

After Young graduated from the Slade, she went on to become an assistant in Reg Butler’s sculpture studio. Young gave up her own work for an extended period in order to focus on casting and producing Reg Butler’s work, eventually becoming his second wife. In this period of Young’s life, the narrative of her work becomes subsumed into the role of ‘assistant’.

Young describes how none of her female peers at the Slade became successful artists, and reflects on how the expectations of the feminine role in the 1950s were incompatible with developing a career as a famous artist:

(To become a famous female artist at the time) you had to be a very very extraordinary person […]it was almost as if, not through any fault of his, he (Butler) just sucked it away, he drew it out, drew all your energy away from creativity, into being part of a partnership”. (Butler, 1999, p.138)

During our research project, we have been particularly interested in giving the Slade’s female sculptors the recognition that they deserve, after having been excluded from the art historical canon for many years due to the intersecting factors of socialised and institutionalised sexism.

Whilst Young’s contribution to British Sculpture may be overlooked today, at the start of her career she was a part of the ‘Young British Sculptors’ exhibition which toured galleries across Germany between 1955 and 1956. As well as being one of only two female sculptors to have shown work in this exhibition, Young had only recently graduated from the Slade. To have been selected by the British Council to represent her country internationally was a huge honour and a mark of her significance to British sculptural practice at the time.

Furthermore, she exhibited work alongside work by Robert Clatworthy and Takis Vassilakis at the Hanover Gallery in 1955. John Berger’s review of the Hanover Gallery exhibition captures the character of Young’s work:

Her excitement must surely derive from the degree to which she can bend, separate and impress a gentle, calm form into vitality” (Berger 1955).

To learn more about Young, her oral testimony is available here and her exhibition history can be found here

A prize-winning sculpture: Bull

The Slade has never actively collected prize-winning sculpture. However, the exception is Bull. Whilst it is unknown why this sculpture in particular was retained by the School, it is likely that the connection to Reg Butler, played a significant role. It is one of the earliest examples of the unique shell bronze casting method that the famous British sculptor used to make many of his later works. Therefore, Bull is likely to be a commercially valuable sculpture, as well as an interesting work that documents how his shell bronze casting method developed. Furthermore, given Butler’s affection and high regard for Young, it can be speculated that he was able to influence the Slade to collect Bull whilst he was still working as a lecturer.

Whilst the rest of the prize-winning works remain unknown, Bull acts as a tangible representation of the missing sculpture prize collection as a whole: a sculpture to sit upon the ‘empty plinth’. Young’s sculpture represents the qualities that would have made a prize-winning work: rigorously honed technical training, combined with individual creativity and vision. Bull can also exemplify the diversity of sculptors that were winners of the Slade sculpture prize, which was unusual for traditional art schools at the time. Created at a time when female sculptors were in the minority in the British art sector, it acts as a physical reminder of the prevalence of female sculptors at the Slade, who were accepted into the school in equal numbers as the male candidates, and who won sculpture prizes more regularly than their male counterparts.

Finally, a prize-winning work marks a time of potential for a student, a turning-point in their careers as artists. Bull embodies Young’s first exposure to the shell bronze casting method which would become the predominant casting method for her sculpture in later years. We imagine the other prize-winning works to also be sculptural embodiments of artistic progress and promise.

To find out more about the history of the prize-system at the Slade that dates back to the formative years of the School and continues today visit Spotlight on the Slade.

To find out more about the history of women artists at UCL and journeys in gender equality across the disciplines more widely visit Disrupters and Innovators and Prize and Prejudice

 

References

Butler, R. & Whiteley G. (1999-2000) ‘National Life Stories: Artists’ Lives: Rosemary Butler’. The British Library. [online] Available at: https://sounds.bl.uk/related-content/TRANSCRIPTS/021T-C0466X0094XX-ZZZZA0.pdf [Accessed 10/03/19].

Berger, J. (1955) ‘Two Views’. New Statesman. London.

Image credits listed in order of appearance:

Rosemary Young, Bull, 1951. UCL Art Museum LDUCS-10010

Photograph of Rosemary Young working alongside Reg Butler in his studio. (photographer unknown) © Witt & Conway Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

Object of the week 378: Tess Jaray, Always Now

NinaPearlman22 March 2019

Today’s entry has been written by Viktoria Espelund. Viktoria gained her MA in History of Art From UCL and has worked with the UCL Art Museum team throughout her studies as a volunteer and later in a professional capacity as well.  We are thrilled to see her knowledge and expertise gain a wider audience through her recent contribution as a writer to a current exhibition at the Barber Institute of Fine Art in Birmingham. Her experienced is shared in this post.

Always Now (LDUCS 7876) is a print by the British painter and printmaker Tess Jaray RA (b. 1937, Austria).  This print is one of nine works that are held of Tess Jaray in UCL Art Museum’s collections and is incredibly special to me, being the first ever work I saw by the artist now showing new work at the Barber Institute in Birmingham. The aquatint derives from a painting completed in 1982. Whereas the painting is painted with a soft colour palette of lilacs and blues against a cream-coloured background, the print has been executed in bright turquoise on paper.

A turquoise geometric print by Tess Jaray 1982 from UCL Art Museum's collections number 7876

Tess Jaray, Always Now, 1982, aquatint, UCL Art Museum LDUCS 7876

Tess Jaray has been an influential figure in the British art world since the 1960s. As both a Senior Royal Academician and an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA, her career spans more than fifty years, throughout which time she has produced a vast body of work. Jaray arrived with her family to the UK as an infant in 1938 as part of the flight of Jewish refugees from the Nazis. Aged sixteen she embarked on her journey as an artist and enrolled first at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London later at the Slade School of Fine Art (1957-1960), studying under the likes of William Coldstream, Bartos Dos Santos and Ernst Gombrich. Jaray has further been a great influence on younger British artists through her writing and the thirty years spent teaching at the Slade (1968-1999).  (more…)

Focus on Slade Women Artists 2017 – 2018

MartineRouleau19 June 2017

 

Paula Rego, Under Milkwood

Paula Rego, Under Milkwood, 1954, Oil on canvas,
UCL Art Museum 5581. © The Artist.
First Prize Equal for Summer
Composition, 1954. All UCL Art
Museum’s paintings can be viewed online at Art UK

Spotlight on the Slade Collections is a research project supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, aimed at increasing access to UCL Art Museum’s Slade Collections through research, cataloguing, digitisation, collaboration and public engagement. Emerging out of this project for 2017 – 2018, UCL Art Museum will focus its research and events programming on a key component of the collection: Slade Women Artists.

Approximately 45% of works in UCL Art Museum’s collection are by women artists. Typically, permanent collections in Europe and the US contain between 3-5% of works by women. For their recent exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, art activists the Guerrilla Girls sent questionnaires to 383 European museums and collections to ascertain the gender and nationality balance within their collections. Of the 101 institutions that responded, only 2 collections contained 40% or more works by women.

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The trace is the appearance of nearness

MartineRouleau30 May 2017

Blog post written by Liz Rideal, Leverhume artist in residence at UCL Art Museum and Reader in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art

Installation view of Terme Di Diocletian by Liz Rideal

Installation view of Terme di Diocleziano by Mike Dye

The trace is the appearance of nearness, however far removed the thing that left it behind may be. The aura is the appearance of a distance, however close the thing that calls it forth. In the trace, we gain possession of the thing; in the aura, it takes possession of us.

Walter Benjamin

All of the UCL Museums exist in compact spaces, the Art Museum is no exception with John Flaxman‘s (1755-1826) sculptural bequests crowding the walls, leaving small gaps for temporary exhibitions. The advantage here is that the plethora adds to the excitement around what is available to see, and the Legacy exhibition of Richard Cooper Jnr (1740-1822) makes an unusual eighteenth century complement to the permanent display. Cooper Jnr’s prints are exhibited so that one can compare, contrast and appreciate their repetition of landscape format and small scale. We can recognise the tropes made familiar by his precedents, Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), Claude Lorraine (1604/5-1682) and lesser known but more famous in his day, Herman van Swanevelt (c.1603-1655) with their reiterated Italianate views made popular by print and available in albums. It emerged that the museum curatorial assistant George Richards’s Masters was on The Dutch golden age. A landscape print of Richard Cooper Jnr’s ‘after Swanevelt’ was in the display, consequently I was able to expand his knowledge of this artist through sharing art historian Sue Russell‘s research into Swanevelt, thus making further connections – another unimagined benefit of my Leverhulme research grant.

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Spotlight on the Slade: New findings

MartineRouleau17 May 2017

Blog post written by Helen Downes, Paul Mellon Centre Research Curator

UCL6602 Portrait of a Man, 1939 by Nancy Dorothea Craig-Barr. © Estate of the artist. Name inscribed at upper right.

UCL6602 Portrait of a Man, 1939 by Nancy Dorothea Craig-Barr. © Estate of the artist. Name inscribed at upper right.

Exciting findings continue to emerge from UCL Art Museum’s Spotlight on Slade, the research and cataloguing project generously supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
Recent findings have unearthed new information about Slade artists and have focused attention on the cataloguing process itself and how artists, subjects and meanings can be subsumed and potentially lost through the process of cataloguing.
As I work through the Slade Drawings collection, looking at each work, checking and updating title, date and artist information, I am also recording the numerous inscriptions on the works. These can range from artist signatures to notes by the student or the tutor, a scribbled record of a prize won or a subject drawn. Many record the old ‘Slade No.’ which corresponds with the original Slade record slip detailing the artist, title, subject and prize awarded. A whole group of works have been carefully inscribed by Randolphe Schwabe (Slade Professor 1930 – 1948). Interesting itself is how the ink has faded and its constituency altered, now appearing as if pencil has been meticulously and precisely overwritten in ink.

 

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Spotlight on the Slade – October 2015 update

Jenny MWedgbury1 October 2015

Percy Wyndham Lewis, Stooping Nude Child, 1900, Black Chalk, UCL 6003 (The Estate of Mrs G.A. Wyndham Lewis. By permission of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust (a Registered Charity)

Percy Wyndham Lewis, Stooping Nude Child, 1900, Black Chalk, UCL 6003 (The Estate of Mrs G.A. Wyndham Lewis. By permission of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust (a Registered Charity)

Blog post by Helen Downes, Paul Mellon Centre Research Curator, UCL Art Museum

UCL Art Museum’s Spotlight on the Slade project is well underway with the first phase of the project: Full cataloguing of the collection of some 1,700 drawings.  Dating from the 1890s to the present day, this collection of largely prize-winning drawings offers a unique insight into student work and teaching methods at the Slade.  Current focus is on the late 19th, early 20th Century and is yielding some interesting findings. (more…)

The greatest living Art Collection (at UCL)

Jenny MWedgbury1 July 2015

Dyck, Anthony van (1599-1641), Anthony Van Dyck, 1645, UCL Art Museum Collection

Dyck, Anthony van (1599-1641), Anthony Van Dyck, 1645, UCL Art Museum Collection

At Glastonbury Festival this year, singer Kanye West claimed he was the ‘greatest living rock star on the planet’. Here at the UCL Art Museum, we’d like to claim that we are the greatest living art collection on campus, hosting a wonderful treasure trove of work dating from the 1490’s to the present day. We can afford to be as confident as Kanye, with a collection by artists such as Durer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck Turner, Dora Carrington, Stanley Spencer and Paula Rego.

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Re-Launch in conversation – artist Kate Keara Pelen

Jenny MWedgbury2 June 2015

Kate imageIt’s been great working on the Re-Launch exhibition this summer term. To give you more of an insight into the artists whose work is included in the show I’ve interviewed some of them to find out more about their practice and connection to UCL Art Museum and the Slade School of Art. Below is the first artist interview with artist Kate Keara Pelen.

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Stunning prints for sale from Subnature Exhibition: Prices reduced

JackAshby29 October 2014

ALTED Hydrozoa by Lan Lan, 2014. From Subnature exhibition

ALTED Hydrozoa by Lan Lan, 2014.
From Subnature exhibition

Back in May this year we opened the exhibition Subnature by the UCL Slade School of Fine Art’s Lan Lan. The highlight of the exhibition were a series of extremely high quality prints, generated by digitally manipulating photographs of sculptures the artist had created from fish bone.

The resulting images resembled at once both marine creatures and galaxies.

At the end of the exhibition the prints were offered for sale. We are now very pleased to announce that the artist has kindly allowed us to significantly reduce the prices to assist with our raising funds for our major conservation project to preserve 39 of our large skeletons, including the world’s rarest skeleton, the quagga.

Details of the sale, and images of the stunning prints can be seen on the Subnature sale website.

The prints are available for a limited time only, until 23rd December 2014.

Jack Ashby is the Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology

 

Science + Art = ?

Nicholas JBooth6 May 2014

What happens when you give a Geology Museum to a set of Art Students? Well we are about to find out…

Photo taken in Geo-Chemistry Lab

Geo-Chemistry Lab at UCL.

Last year a group of sculpture Masters students from the Slade School of Fine Art took over the Rock Room (UCL’s Geology Museum) for a day, created a load of new art works relating to the space and the collection, and then opened it up to the public to view their work. It was a great day, we had a lot of visitors and the students seemed to enjoy themselves.

This year I met with the Slade organiser, Lecturer in Sculpture Karin Ruggaber, early, and we decided that we would build on the work of last time, by offering a tour of some of the lesser seen parts of the Geology Collections, and the Earth Science Department here at UCL,

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