Back to the University

Over the last few months I’ve been having a great time working with two Classics undergraduates, Jess Matthews and Hannah Webbe, to produce a new display of the University’s ancient Cypriot collection, previously on temporary display in the Leeds City Museum. This blog has charted my progress in researching this collection:

So the next step was to bring the objects back to the University of Leeds, where they came to light in a cellar in 1913. Thanks to generous support from the Footsteps Fund, and from the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, Classics at Leeds were able to purchase a new custom-built display case, which is now housed in the Ullmann Foyer in the Michael Sadler Building (Michael Sadler, of course, succeeded Nathan Bodington as the second Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds).

Jess and Hannah have worked hard to explore the objects and their histories, and I’ve really enjoyed working with them. We’ve had a lot of fun with this project over the last few months:

Getting a closer look at the objects and deciding how to group them:

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Specifying and ordering the brand new display case!

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Deciding on the mounts for the objects, and the all-important numbering cubes:

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Turning the plan for the display into reality:

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Getting the objects grouped just right!

The objects installed

The collection installed.

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The final display in situ:

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The launch on Tuesday 12 June – a lovely way of celebrating the interns’ achievement, and introducing colleagues to the new display.

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Jess and Hannah have put together a great display featuring a selection of the objects, and focusing on themes of the collection’s origins; trade and imports; damage and restoration; and modern interpretations. The display has already been greatly admired, and helps to highlight the breadth of research that goes on in Classics. From my point of view, it’s amazing to be greeted by ancient Cypriot objects every time I visit the building! Many people have helped in many ways to make it possible, and we are very grateful for all their support.

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The University of Leeds ancient Cypriot collection

Recently I’ve secured some funding through the Cultural and Creative Industries Exchange at the University of Leeds, for a small project on the Department of Classics‘ collection of ancient Cypriot artefacts. This consists of 24 objects, not currently on display, including ceramics, glass and bronze. I’m delighted to be spending some time on this interesting and unpublished collection, and will be blogging about it over the next few months.

Bronze mirror © University of Leeds

Bronze mirror from Cyprus
© University of Leeds

I’ll be working with Leeds Museums and Galleries and the British Museum to explore the collection, starting by examining each object and trying to ‘place’ it in stylistic and chronological terms. The collection is in need of some conservation attention, so I’ll be trying to find a source of funding for that. I’ll also be looking into the more recent collection history; as ever, this is something I find fascinating. My work so far suggests that there are stories to be uncovered behind this group of objects and their route to Leeds, involving the shared history of University and Museum in the late 19th/early 20th century. More to follow!