3-4 exhibitions in Leeds



This was fairly small (in one room) but most interesting ;

leeds1You can see that the Norfolk jacket above in the poster is really brown rather than grey , (it’s next to the striped blazer) .

The exhibition emphasised the Leeds connection with examples from M&S , Hepworth’s (now Next) and Montague Burton . The last two were established here in 1864 and 1900 , pioneering the expansion of bespoke into ready-to-wear via increased mechanization . I think it was Burton’s who ended up employing almost the entire immigrant Jewish community just before WW1 .

The most impressive Leeds connection to me was this :-

WP_20150716_003-310x515The suit is designed by Kathryn Sargent . Leeds-born she was the first woman to become head cutter at a Savile Row firm (Gieves & Hawkes) which post she held before leaving to head her own tailoring house . Again the first woman etc. The shape is very pleasing but the fabric also repays careful inspection . I think you can just see that it is a windowpane check ? Inside each ‘pane’ it is a herringbone weave – but they don’t all go the same way ! It was designed by Leeds-born Fashion/Textile student Cathryn Harrie and handwoven in Yorkshire by Dugdale Bros & Co. (established 1896) . In the same case the sleeve of the ‘process jacket’ is just visible , this was a partly made up garment showing the different layers of fabric and the stitching marking points and sections . All done for the exhibition and hence never to be worn , alas .

Here are some other favourites of mine , a black wool Victorian riding habit and an Alexandra McQueen piece .











2  Paul Neagu : Palpable Sculpture (Henry Moore Institute until November 8 2015)

Gallery 4 at the Institute has a most interesting prequel in ‘Object Lessons’ which displays the 4 trays of an 1850s educational specimen box from the V&A . Unfortunately one can’t see the details clearly and hence the care put in to selecting the specimens .


Object lessons were an intriguing approach in elementary education in 19c England when educational materials were largely the teacher and anything they had or knew . Basing lessons on objects as examples from the natural and industrial worlds would introduce more information than could be had locally and be far more interesting because of the 5 senses engagement . The appropriate leaflet claims sculpture was taught , and displayed like this also . This seems pretty far fetched but is presumably why reproductions of drawings of plaster casts of antique sculpture are on the walls of the gallery – maybe to sneer at ?

Anyhow the frank pleasure of the organised trays carries over in a very straightforward way to the earliest examples of Paul Neagu’s work ie boxes and trays with divisions or cells into which things are put – to then be taken out , re-arranged into different cells …. I got a strong sense of his pleasure in their making and longed to handle them and play with them as was intended . But they pleased me anyway . As did his later work . There are 120 works on display from 1968-1986 , not just sculptures but drawings and documentation of performances . Nevertheless he lived on in London until 2004 so how did his work develop further ? There is no information on this in the exhibition .

Great Tactile Table 1970

Great Tactile Table 1970

I think this is the original frame for or similar to what he used for his Edible Cake-Man event of 1971 . As displayed the cells now contain tesserae in different colours .

Anthropocosmos 457 Cells (Skeleton) 1972-3

Anthropocosmos 457 Cells (Skeleton) 1972-3

This is a very detailed drawing with measurements on it . The position of the body is one he used more than once in performances .

Drawing The Subject , Generator 1975

Drawing The Subject , Generator 1975

This drawing resembles one of his kinetic pieces on display but seems to be modified into an automatic drawing machine . The kinetic pieces were usually 3-legged as above but varied in the shapes of the ‘legs’ and additions eg one had pendula attached but unfortunately prevented from swinging .

Nine Catalytic Stations - mid 1980s

Nine Catalytic Stations – mid 1980s

I guess the one on the wall is the 10th ? These are lovely , 2 look as if they might rock but won’t because of the triangular construction as Habib pointed out .

Altogether I loved this exhibition and will go back before it ends . However it is maddening to be told that he wrote a ‘Palpable Art Manifesto’ in 1969 advocating Art for all the senses and that the Institute is celebrating this also by showing ‘Object Lessons’ etc . Of course the one thing it will never be ‘innovative’ or ‘avant-garde’ enough to do is show anything at all which you might be allowed to touch . And there is no evidence of any self-awareness about this either . Nary a rueful joke .

And now to the final exhibition , the 8th British Art Show next door at Leeds City Art Gallery . Don’t bother .


About rukshanaafia

Ceramic & textile artist
This entry was posted in Drawings, non-figurative scupture, other artists, Textiles. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 3-4 exhibitions in Leeds

  1. dapherbs says:

    I had a walk through of the Paul Neagu the other week but almost toally forgot about it, perhaps because of my chagrin at not being able to “palpate” the palpable sculptures! Must revisit soon. Interesting themes

  2. kathy bergen says:

    Very interesting and the photos are great. I enjoy history museums and like to see how the styles of clothing have “progressed”….I like many of the historic clothing styles more than the ones we have today…I also have a need to “touch” everything…and see how it all works and is put together.

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