Our collection tells interesting stories about the history of Loughborough University and changing attitudes to public art.
The Stewart Mason era
Many works in our collection were purchased by Leicestershire Education Authority under the auspices of Stewart Mason, the county’s Director of Education from 1947-71. He was a progressive educator with a keen interest in contemporary art, and would oversee the purchase or commissioning of works to accompany new building projects. He believed that challenging, experimental art should be taken out of the gallery to the places where 'people daily congregate'.
Of particular interest are the many sculptures from this period, including Lynn Chadwick’s 'The Watchers', Bernard Schottlander’s 'Abstract' and Peter Peri’s 'Spirit of Technology'. Mason was also responsible for the acquisition of many paintings, including works by John Bratby and Frank Avray Wilson; and prints, including works by John Piper and Edward Bawden.
Many of these were featured in the 1967-68 exhibition ‘British Sculpture and Painting from the Leicestershire Education Authority’ at London’s Whitechapel Gallery.
Our collection features many wonderful examples of furniture made in the Cotswold Arts and Crafts tradition by students of Loughborough College, the forerunner of the University. Produced from the 1930s-60s under the guidance of leading furniture makers including Edward Barnsley, Ernest Gimson and Peter Waals, this included furniture for management offices, student halls of residence and cafeterias.
The latter are still in use in cafes in Martin Hall and the Edward Herbert Building, whilst chairs and desks can be found in offices around the campus and are used for graduation ceremonies. LU Arts’ Office in Martin Hall features many interesting pieces and has been designed in response to this tradition by Giles Round.
Staff and student artworks
Current and former staff and student artworks are well-represented in the collection. This includes paintings, prints and sculptures by Edward Sharp Prize winners; sculptures by Paul Wager, Michael Dan Archer and Lorraine Young; paintings by Bryan Organ; and a limited-edition print by Bridget Riley, who taught art at what was then Loughborough College of Art in 1959.
After a thorough cataloguing exercise over the summer of 2019 we’re now working on improving interpretation and restoring some works to their full glory so that the University’s students, staff and visitors can better appreciate the work in our collection.
- Bradbury, Natalie (2019) A Visit to the Loughborough University Art Collection
- Cantor, Leonard (1990) Loughborough University of Technology: Past and Present. Loughborough: Loughborough University of Technology.
- Carruthers, Annette (1992) Edward Barnsley and his Workshop: Arts and Crafts in the Twentieth Century. Wendlebury: White Cockade Publishing.
- Cavanagh, Terry & Yarrington, Alison (2000) Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
- Greensted, Mary (1991) Gimson and the Barnsleys: Wonderful Furniture of a Commonplace Kind. Stoud: Alan Sutton Publishing
- Penfold, John (1987). ‘From Handicraft to Craft Design and Technology’, Studies in Design Education, Craft and Technology, 20(1): 34-48.
- Whitechapel Gallery and Loughborough University of Technology (1967) British Sculpture and Painting From the Collection of the Leicestershire Education Authority. London: Whitechapel Gallery.