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 Lady with the 5 o’clock shadow

Posted on: 3 September 2020 | Category: 2020

Detail of a portrait of a woman wearing a blue silk dress holding a jasmine flower with a white bonnet and collar. She holds a jasmine flower in her right hand. The lower half of her face has a five o'clock shadow.

Dr Amanda Draper, Curator of Art & Exhibitions writes …\nWhen I first arrived at the VG&M in January 2018 there was one painting in the building that hypnotised me. It had come into the collection in 2000 with no known title and had been descriptively labelled as ‘Portrait of a woman wearing a blue silk dress holding a jasmine flower’ by unknown artist. But there was an elephant in the room. The lower half of the sitter’s face, with its amiable if slightly pensive expression, appeared to be covered by a 5 o’clock shadow. They looked in distinct need of a close shave. What was the story here?


A Fossil For Friday -The Oldest Object in the Collection

Posted on: 27 August 2020 | Category: 2020

A trace fossil in sand stone of three footprints approximately 1 cm to 2 cm consisting of 4 digits.

We are almost certain that this footprint made by ‘Beasley’s type D2 Rhynchosaurides Rectipes’ which has been dated as over 240,000,000 years old, is the object that most accurately fits this week’s blog description.


The Mystery of the Floating Hand

Posted on: 21 August 2020 | Category: 2020

A man dressed in an outfit that resembles those of senior leaders of the Ottoman Empire

Amanda Draper, Curator of Art & Exhibition writes …\nAs a curator who looks after art collections, one of my favourite things is working with the specialist conservators who restore and revive artefacts for us. Their technical and artistic skills are phenomenal and they can completely transform an artwork that most of us would have thought beyond repair. And just sometimes, simply cleaning a painting can reveal unexpected wonders. And so it was with The Turkish Ambassador.


75th Anniversary of VJ Day Liverpool 2020, Connections and Reflections.

Posted on: 14 August 2020 | Category: 2020

On the left a black and white photograph of Maurice Green and his wife Doris. Maurice is in his army uniform they are sat down together, his kit bag across his lap. They are both smiling happy to be reunited. On the right a black and white photograph of William Dickinson Davies sat in profile. He is wearing his army uniform and hat.

This Saturday the 15th of August is 75th anniversary of the Victory Over Japan Day, VJ Day, marking both the surrender of Japan and the end of the Second World War. The surrender effectively ended the war and allowed British soldiers, who had been fighting in Burma and those held captive across southeast Asia and the Far East, to return home. At least 20,000 of these men (as well as hundreds of civilian internees) disembarked in Liverpool between 8 October and the end of December that year. The remainder either returned via Southampton or, in the case of a few, flew back and were the first to arrive home during September. \n


What's in the Box?

Posted on: 7 August 2020 | Category: 2020

A small box approximately 7 centimetres by 5 centimetres. Black worn material around the edges glazed top with scratches. A yellowing type specimen label with Liverpool university Zoology Museum typed on it and hand written class and genus attributes. Containing cotton wool like substance with tiny micro sized  fossil of foraminifera samples.

Sometimes the smallest of objects can tell a big story. This unexceptional little box is one of them. This box holds an important but minuscule marine specimen. It also tells the story of a 19th century eminent marine biologist who built the foundations of the study of oceanography here at the University of Liverpool. That's a lot for a small box!


Hero to Zero

Posted on: 31 July 2020 | Category: 2020

Front and back view of a commemorative cream glaze, earthenware jug with black transfer print of a Colonel Tarleton in naval unifom on one side and a female on the other watching a ship leave port.

Dr Amanda Draper, Curator of Art & Exhibitions writes …\n\nIf working in a museum has taught me anything, it’s that history has different narratives which can change over time and one object can tell many stories. And so it is with this jug. It was created to celebrate military campaigns led by Colonel Banastre Tarleton, considered a hero in the 1780s. But time has reviewed Colonel Tarleton, his military career, his views on slavery and even his love life, and today he is perceived very differently. Let’s see how the jug tells these tales.


The Way of the Gull

Posted on: 24 July 2020 | Category: 2020

A coastal scene of a small bay with dunes, gorse and sandy road running towards a white cottage sat at the top of the bay.

It’s the start of National Marine week tomorrow. In celebration, we share the coastal landscapes of Dr Margery Knight (1889 - 1973). Five of Knight’s paintings are in the VG&M collection, bequeathed in 2003 by her companion, Miss Rose McKenna. Last month, Knight’s paintings inspired the VG&M relaxed concert, 'Time was away and somewhere else'. We reached out to Louise Ashcroft, who wrote and performed the concert, to share insights. Over to you, Louise…


The University Ceremonial Mace

Posted on: 17 July 2020 | Category: 2020

Graduation ceremony 2019 the mace bearer is placing the mace

When you think of graduation the first thing that will spring to mind is undoubtedly the hard work you’ve put in over the course of your studies. You may also conjure up images of the raised mortar boards in celebration, the ceremony, speeches and procession and no doubt the nerves prior to stepping up onto the stage willing yourself not to trip! The likelihood of remembering the University mace is probably quite slim.\n


Made You Look

Posted on: 10 July 2020 | Category: 2020

Chancay Funeral Offering in the form of an anthropomorphic figure supported in a bowl stand.

This peculiar looking ceramic has always intrigued me ever since I started working here at the VG&M. At first glance I thought it was a ceramic by world famous artist Pablo Picasso whose ceramics were often influenced by Latin American and pre-Columbian forms but on closer inspection it was not.


Bookplate for Christabel A. Frampton

Posted on: 3 July 2020 | Category: 2020

Anning Bell bookplate detail ink drawing of a girl reading a book

Amanda Draper, Curator of Art & Exhibition writes …\n\nRobert Anning Bell RA (1863-1993) was an influential artist of the Arts and Crafts Movement with links to the University of Liverpool. His artistic range was wide but somehow he has become best known for small, very personal artworks which are almost always hidden from view: the bookplate.


    Blog

    The Lady with the 5 o’clock shadow

    Posted on: 3 September 2020 | Category: 2020

    Detail of a portrait of a woman wearing a blue silk dress holding a jasmine flower with a white bonnet and collar. She holds a jasmine flower in her right hand. The lower half of her face has a five o'clock shadow.

    Dr Amanda Draper, Curator of Art & Exhibitions writes … When I first arrived at the VG&M in January 2018 there was one painting in the building that hypnotised me. It had come into the collection in 2000 with no known title and had been descriptively labelled as ‘Portrait of a woman wearing a blue silk dress holding a jasmine flower’ by unknown artist. But there was an elephant in the room. The lower half of the sitter’s face, with its amiable if slightly pensive expression, appeared to be covered by a 5 o’clock shadow. They looked in distinct need of a close shave. What was the story here?


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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.