Exhibition visit: ‘Art in an Electric Atmosphere’, Treasures of the Brotherton, University of Leeds

I spent my PhD reading books by and about the writer, poet, anarchist and critic Herbert Read – a supporter of Pictures for Schools, who believed in the power of art education and children’s potential as artists – but never fully felt I got the measure of his multifaceted life and career.

A small but extremely thoughtfully curated exhibition at Treasure of the Brotherton, in the library building at the University of Leeds (where Read, a Yorkshireman’s papers are held), offers an interesting way into Read’s life and work. Curated by the artist Stephen Sutcliffe, it picks out ephemera from his archive, highlighting different sides of his life, from Yorkshire family man, to intellectual and anti-war campaigner, and the matters that were important to him.

One of the things that comes across most strongly in the exhibition – through correspondence from figures such as Isa and Walter Gropius and many of the leading artists of the day, as well as a series of annotated napkins from his 70th birthday dinner in London in 1967 – was his place in the British and international intelligentsia, and the high regard in which he was held as a friend, writer and thinker, in the fields of art, design and beyond.

‘Art in an Electric Atmosphere’ is on until Saturday 1 August. For more information visit https://library.leeds.ac.uk/events/event/1900/galleries/224/art-in-an-electric-atmosphere-the-library-and-archive-of-herbert-read.



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