Welcome to Objects in Focus at the VG&M

This Blog will focus on individual objects from our extensive fine and decorative art collections and the museum heritage collections. You will be regulary treated to an in-depth look into both familiar and unfamiliar artworks and objects, discovering some of the secrets and stories behind them.

You might recognise some objects from display, but others from departmental teaching collections will be seen publicly for the first time.

The Bidston Hill Signals Mug: A Who's Who of the Liverpool Slave Trade

Posted on: 26 November 2021 | Category: 2021

Extract from a view of Liverpool by John Thomas Serres (1759–1825), 1797. Courtesy of the British Library, public domain.

Sometimes, otherwise unassuming objects in the Victoria Gallery & Museum can give a remarkable insight into an abominable and infamous past. One such object is the Bidston Hill signals creamware mug, currently on display in Gallery 1, which unlocks a glimpse at an important period in Liverpool’s maritime history: when the Transatlantic Slave Trade was thriving.

Faience and Fiascos

Posted on: 12 November 2021 | Category: 2021

Faience Tiles from interior of VG&M

In our previous Victoria Building History blog we learnt more about the original college building which had opened in 1882 and was based in the old asylum building on Ashton Street. The college rapidly grew and it was not long before the inadequacies of the building became apparent and so in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the College launched a fundraising appeal for the erection of a purpose-built headquarters. The College’s Council asked Liverpool-born architect Alfred Waterhouse to draw up plans and in this blog we take a close look at the construction of the Victoria Building.

The Black Girl’s Silhouette

Posted on: 29 October 2021 | Category: 2021

The Black Girl’s Silhouette Portrait

In 1770s Ormskirk, a young Black woman sat still while a visitor cut paper in the shape of her profile. We have been left with her likeness, a note about her character but not her name or life story, so our research about her is ongoing. Here’s what we know so far …

Dionne Sparks: Diaspora Conversations

Posted on: 15 October 2021 | Category: 2021

Left image - Conversations, acrylic and collage on paper, 1990. Right Image - Study of Washing at the Water, watercolour on paper, 1990

Artist Dionne Sparks revisits her collage-based work on paper, Conversations, acquired for the University of Liverpool’s collection in 1990 and traces the trajectory of her work from then to her current practice. Learn about the artist and what inspired her work over the years.

From Asylum to Academia

Posted on: 17 September 2021 | Category: 2021

The University of Liverpool Quadrangle with Victoria and Ashton Buildings

If you stand behind the Victoria Gallery & Museum in the university quadrangle you may not realise that the foundations of the first building on this site lie beneath your feet. An asylum was erected here in 1829 and served until 1881 where it was repurposed and converted for the use of University College Liverpool. In this blog post we take a closer look at this buildings history.

How Gogglehead got his gleam back

Posted on: 3 September 2021 | Category: 2021

Gogglehead half done (detail)

Larger than life, this disembodied head with its sardonic grin has been a VG&M visitor favourite for years. But most didn’t realise that his sunglasses were nowhere near as shiny as they should be. This is the story of how Gogglehead got his gleam back.

The Remarkable Mrs Horsfall

Posted on: 20 August 2021 | Category: 2021

Betty Horsfall and Igor Belolipov of Tashkent State Agrarian University in Ness Gardens, early 1990s. Photo courtesy of Hugh McAllister.

On 6 July 2000, after 93 years of life, Mrs Betty Horsfall died at her home in Aylburton, Gloucestershire. She left, in her legacy, a substantial contribution to the University of Liverpool, which has enriched many people’s lives without their ever knowing it. She was, in life as in death, a remarkable person.

The Two Shipwrecks of the Circassian

Posted on: 29 July 2021 | Category: 2021

Abandoning the Circassian by Clarkson Stanfield (Detail)

Hanging in our Nature v Humans exhibition is a painting of a dramatic shipwreck during a turbulent storm. The stricken Liverpool-bound vessel is called the Circassian and this is a fictional scene. However, forty years later, a real ship from Liverpool with the same name also foundered in an episode brimming with heroism and tragedy.

The New Woman at University College Liverpool

Posted on: 25 June 2021 | Category: 2021

Performance photographs from the 1895 fundraiser shows that the poses from both the male and female students mimic one another with wagging fingers.

This week we celebrate #InternationalWomenInEngineeringDay and in our ‘A New Beauty’ exhibition we explore the evolving ways that physical attractiveness was depicted from the late 1800s and while women were being depicted as delicate and otherworldly creatures in art, real women were beginning to demand emancipation and equal voting rights. The press labelled them as the ‘New Woman’ from 1894 onwards and a year later satirical performances based on the occupations of women were performed in the Victoria Building and this blog looks at two of them in more detail.

On this day in 1815 - The Battle of Waterloo changed the course of European History.

Posted on: 18 June 2021 | Category: 2021

The Eagle Standard of Napoleon’s 105th Regiment being unpacked at the Victoria Gallery & Museum

This picture represents one of the most exciting moments I have ever experienced as a museum curator. In 2015, as part of the National Army Museum’s partnership project in commemoration of the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, we exhibited a selection of artefacts from their Waterloo Collections. I had successfully negotiated the loan of one of only two Napoleonic Eagle Standards captured by the British at that battle (and I confess to having been shamelessly pleased with myself).

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    The Bidston Hill Signals Mug: A Who's Who of the Liverpool Slave Trade

    Extract from a view of Liverpool by John Thomas Serres (1759–1825), 1797. Courtesy of the British Library, public domain.

    Posted on: 26 November 2021 | Category: 2021

    Sometimes, otherwise unassuming objects in the Victoria Gallery & Museum can give a remarkable insight into an abominable and infamous past. One such object is the Bidston Hill signals creamware mug, currently on display in Gallery 1, which unlocks a glimpse at an important period in Liverpool’s maritime history: when the Transatlantic Slave Trade was thriving.

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Disclaimer

We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought.

The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.