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 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.


Two Men and a Portrait

Posted on: 26 June 2020 | Category: 2020

A double portrait of the same man, a Far East prisoner of created by the same artist 1 year apart.

Two Portraits of Charlie Proctor, Changi 1942 & Thailand late 1943 \nBy Gunner Ashley George Old, 1/5 Sherwood Foresters Regt.\nPencil on paper\nWatercolour on paper\n© the Bartholomew Family\n\nI think this is one of the most arresting portraits in the exhibition, Secret Art of Survival - Creativity and ingenuity of British Far East prisoners of war, 1942 – 1945. It is a double portrait of the same man done by the same artist. It is a before and after portrait, something we are more familiar with today in a world of social media and photography. The portrait is of Private Ernest Charles Proctor, 1/5 Sherwood Foresters Regt, born in 1904 the oldest man in Old’s regiment at the time. It was drawn and painted by the artist, Gunner Ashley George Old. The pencil drawing on the left was done in 1942 during the first weeks of captivity in Changi POW camp in Singapore. The watercolour on the right was painted a year later in 1943 when both men were in the Chungkai Hospital camp in Thailand.


Time and Tide

Posted on: 19 June 2020 | Category: 2020

A box of  four engraved and carved scrimshaw whale bone and tusks

This week the object in focus is our small but important collection of Scrimshaw. Scrimshaw is the name given to a handmade craft created by sea faring men, usually whalers who carved and etched the teeth and bones of whales and other marine mammals. They are often very beautiful. The craft came out of the mariners having a lot of time on their hands while out at sea. Particularly whalers, waiting for a catch. It is thought the word “Scrimshaw” is derived from a mix of Scandinavian, Dutch and English slang for 'wasting time' or 'state of idleness'. Whaling voyages could last 3, 4 and sometimes 5 years and there would be long periods of time with nothing to do and so “scrimshandering” became a popular pastime which kept men occupied and out of trouble. Scrimshaw was most popular in the early 1800s when the whaling industry was at its peak; by the late 1800s this art form had almost died away.


Mermaid, 1933 By Herbert Tyson Smith (1883 – 1972)

Posted on: 12 June 2020 | Category: 2020

Bronze mermaid sculpture preening herself looking in a mirror about 25 cm's high by Herbert Tyson Smith (1883 - 1972)

This aquatic beauty is one of my favourite items in the VG&M collection and would look lovely preening herself on my mantlepiece at home. The sculptor, Herbert Tyson Smith, patinated the bronze very cleverly so her burnished figure seems to emerge from a verdigris sea foam. Mermaid’s back arches and with her tail forms an arabesque as she gazes at herself in a mirror whilst combing her hair. Her striking art deco styling is typical of Tyson Smith’s later work although he is better known for his architectural sculpture adorning buildings around the North West region.


Pangolin The Worlds Most Illegally Trafficked Mammal

Posted on: 5 June 2020 | Category: 2020

Two Asian pangolin specimens in spirit jars

When you visit the Tate Hall museum you will see many jars with amazing creatures suspended within. Look closer and you will see something rather special. These two historical Pangolin specimens from the late 19th century University Zoology Departmental museum. Today is World Environment Day, this year’s theme is “to celebrate biodiversity”. There are nearly 1 million species on our planet facing extinction, one of which is the seriously endangered pangolin who is essential to the biodiversity of our planet.


I Predict a Riot

Posted on: 29 May 2020 | Category: 2020

Bronze sculpture of police figure with baton, shield and gas mask.

Amanda Draper, Curator of Art & Exhibitions writes …As a curator you’re often asked “what is your favourite item in the collection?”. It’s a bit like asking which is your favourite child, and can depend on your mood, time of day, when you last ate and how much trouble they’ve been recently. At the moment I’d say this bronze sculpture by the Liverpool-based artist Sean Rice. I’m a HUGE fan of his work. And it’s not just me. Riot Policeman, which is displayed on our staircase, is a big favourite with visitors despite (or maybe because) of its rather apocalyptic air.


Electricity is a fine servant, but a very bad master

Posted on: 22 May 2020 | Category: 2020

dental collection

Part of my job is to look after the displays, and this includes routine object checking and cleaning of the heritage collections. This can lead to some interesting finds, as you see an object close up when you check and clean it. Here at the VG&M we look after one of the earliest and most important Dentistry collections in the world, which was originally set up by the staff and students of the Dental School in 1880. In the VGM the Curator of Heritage has used a selection from the collection to recreate a dental surgery - as it would have looked if established in the 19th Century. Furnished with plenty of bone chilling implements to set your teeth on edge, it includes an early example of an X-Ray machine - which the dentist would have purchased as soon as they became available (in the early 20th Century).


    Blog

    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…


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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.