Science fiction and the arts

In July, I wrote a short introduction to the cataloguing work I have been doing with the collection donated by Professor Sir Alan Bowness and the insights from the donor’s own notes. After cataloguing and skimming through more of the collection, I found an enjoyable and unexpected theme amongst the collection of exhibition catalogues: science fiction & fantasy.

The out of this world cover of Bowness.b.471

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Sporting memorabilia from the Russian Empire : the July 2021 Slavonic item of the month

This is an unwittingly Olympics-related blog post.  During a recent day spent processing new Slavonic arrivals in the UL, I kept an eye out for potential subjects for the July blog post – and the winner happened to be an album of sports medals and badges held by the Historical Museum in Moscow.  Sportivnye zhetony i znaki Rossiĭskoĭ imperii iz sobranii︠a︡ Istoricheskogo muzei︠a︡ contains colour photos of the front and reverse of hundreds of sporting awards and sport society membership badges presented in the Russian Empire or to the empire’s citizens outside its boundaries.  The pairs of images are accompanied by captions providing a physical description and brief context if known, along with the date of acquisition by the museum and inventory number. Continue reading

Annotations and Tate history in the Bowness Collection

In March 2021, I began a secondment in the Collections & Academic Liaison department. A major component of my job was to continue the work of cataloguing the exhibition catalogues that belonged to the late Professor Sir Alan Bowness (donation arranged by Sophie Bowness). Sir Alan was head of the Tate Gallery from 1980 to 1988, he was personally connected to Barbara Hepworth and other artists, and laid the foundation for the Tate St Ives, among many other accomplishments.

The Bowness Collection is not only important and interesting in terms of the individual items of the collection, but in the way it reflects the art market and the direction of the Tate Gallery’s acquisitions. The collection contains many smaller catalogues, view cards, exhibition posters, and other ephemera which are often inserted in accompanying catalogues. Going through these exhibition catalogues I have gained insights into the world of gallery openings, blockbuster exhibits, and contemporary art.

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A small update on the Bowness collection


In an earlier blog post on this subject, my colleague Mel explained that Professor Sir Alan Bowness had generously donated several thousand items from his personal library, mainly consisting of exhibition catalogues and related ephemera such as private view cards. Slowly but steadily, these items have been making their way into iDiscover as we work through the collection. In this blog post, I’ll talk about the slightly smaller c size catalogues (between 22 and 25 cm in height) that I’ve been working on since last autumn (classified under Bowness.c.), but many of the larger catalogues (sizes a and b) have also been catalogued and are available to browse under the Bowness classmark.

It is an eclectic collection of catalogues, documenting the exhibitions of sculptors, etchers, woodcut and linocut artists, installation artists, pop artists and painters, mostly from the 1980s (when Sir Alan was Director of the Tate), 1990s and 2000s. The exhibitions are largely located in the UK (many in London and St Ives, Cornwall, as you might expect), but there are also numerous exhibitions from further afield – including several at the André Emmerich Gallery in New York and Phillip King’s 1997 sculpture show at the Forte di Belvedere in Florence (Bowness.c.49).

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Industry and art : the July 2020 Slavonic item of the month

This lovely item is still waiting for me to complete its catalogue record in the UL, but happily I captured many of its contents in photographs on a memory card I brought home on our last day in the Library.

Ugol’, chugun, stal’ (Coal, cast iron, steel) was bought with the help of Special Collections now some time ago.  It is a loose-leaf album of 40 works by the artist Nikolaĭ Fedorovich Denisovskiĭ (often romanised as Denisovsky), 1901-1981, which was published in 1932.  The subject of his work is heavy industry, and each of the 40 monochrome illustrations held within the album depict workers and industrial structures in striking and quite beautiful images.  Below are 15 of the 40.

Images from the new acquisition.

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