Category Archives: Artwork

Exploring Philanthropy

“Exploring Philanthropy” is on display in the Templeman Gallery – from May to October 2022. 

The exhibition introduces themes in the history and practice of philanthropy and shows original archive material from across our collections in Special Collections and Archives – including publications by Charles Dickens, illustrations from Punch magazine, and a selection of items from the UK Philanthropy Archive collections.

Black and white cartoon showing poorly dressed people in an art gallery looking at pictures of wealthy and richly dressed people

The first ‘cartoon’ in Punch Magazine, dated 1843, titled Substance and Shadow – or “The poor ask for bread, and the philanthropy of the State accords – an exhibition”

The History of Philanthropy; Satire and Philanthropy

The sections on the ‘History of Philanthropy; and ‘Satire and Philanthropy’ take you on a whistle stop tour of philanthropy from earliest examples of giving into current perceptions of philanthropy and philanthropists.

Featured in this section is an edition of Punch; or, The London Charivari, from 1843, which established the term ‘cartoon’ as we now know it – referring to a humorous illustration or pictorial satire. The cartoon, by John Leech, titled “Cartoon – No 1 – Substance and Shadow” depicts the picture gallery in Westminster Hall and shows poor and ragged children and adults visiting the gallery. The people do not look like they are enjoying the experience of looking upon pictures of ‘high society’ with lives and experiences so different from their own. Leech is satirising the insensitivity of government spending on an exhibition when poverty was such a huge problem.

Highlights from the UK Philanthropy Archive collections

In our wall cases we show off records, documents and images from the UK Philanthropy Archive collections of Dame Stephanie Shirley, Amanda Sebestyen and the Marc Fitch Fund.

Dame Stephanie Shirley started her charitable foundation – the Shirley Foundation  – in the late 1990s with the intention of giving away most of her money made through her software company – Freelance Programmers. The exhibition includes items that reflect her life, career and philanthropy including items from her early career in programming; cards representing the number of speeches she has given about women, management, IT and autism; documents showing the type of projects she funded through her Foundation; and awards presented to her throughout her life for contributions to philanthropy and IT.

Commemorative envelope showing stamps relating to the Kindertransport

This commemorative cover (collectable envelope) from the archive collection of Dame Stephanie Shirley was released in 1999 on the 60th Anniversary of the Kindertransport. It was designed by Stanley Kacher and has a special Liverpool Street postmark. Dame Stephanie arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied refugee on the Kindertransport in 1939. A key motivation for her work ethic and philanthropy was to give back to the country that had saved her life. “I decided to make mine a life worth saving… and then I just got on with it.” (Dame Stephanie Shirley).

Amanda Sebestyen is a writer, editor and campaigner with a focus on human rights, women rights, refugees, and asylum seekers. Her archive papers reflect her family settlement, set up by her father in 1968; and archives relating to Amanda’s participation as a founding member of the Network for Social Change. The exhibition includes some documents relating to the early days of the Network for Social Change, Amanda’s focus on ethical investment, and her support for the Edmund Rice Centre, and projects including ANTaR – Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation – and their Sea of Hands project. ANTaR is a national advocacy organisation dedicated to the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

selection of documents and postcards of the Sea of Hands project

The Sea of Hands project was designed to engage Australians with rights and reconciliation issues. Originally launched in 1997, thousands of hands in the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were installed in front of Parliament House in what was then the largest public art installation in Australia. Sea of Hands has become an annual campaign and the installation travels the country raising awareness about identities, cultures and history.

The Marc Fitch Fund was created in 1956 by Marc Felix Brudenell Fitch (1908-1994), a historian and philanthropist. Marc used his wealth from the family firm – the food manufacturer Fitch & Son, to fund scholarly and archaeological causes and publishing in the areas of local history, genealogy and heraldry. The exhibition shows a selection of archive papers of the Marc Fitch Fund including an example of the minutes of Trustee Meetings including the planned objects of the Fund, photographs of the first Trustees, and the beautiful Coat of Arms awarded to the fund in 1979.


Rolled document - a coat of arms - in a red box with gold wax seals and blur ribbons

The Marc Fitch Fund was awarded its own Coat of Arms by the College of Arms in 1979, in recognition of Marc Fitch’s generosity to scholarship in heraldry, genealogy and other disciplines.   

How does philanthropy work? 

The exhibition explores how philanthropy works and operates – with panels describing different types of philanthropic methods such as private giving, networks and giving circles, and trusts and foundations. The panels explore how some trusts are funded with endowments, and others chose to spend out their assets in a set time period. The exhibition also explores how the philanthropic sector is looking at the power dynamics associated with holding and giving money and how philanthropists are approaching these issues.

The History of Fundraising, and Fundraising in Theatre and Comedy 

At the end of the exhibition we look at the another side of the philanthropy triangle – those who make the ask for funding, describing early charity appeals, and how fundraisers have harnessed the power of celebrity. We showcase some examples from our theatre and comedy archive collections that illustrate where performance has been used as a vehicle for fundraising over many centuries – from playbills advertising benefit performances in the 18th century to stand-up comedy fundraising events in the last few decades.

Theatre playbill with text describing a performance of A Cure for the Heart Ache in 1823 at the Theatre Royal in Ulverston

This playbill advertises a performance of ‘A Cure for the Heart Ache’ in 1823 at the Theatre Royal in Ulverston. The performance was for the benefit of George Bailey’s ‘unhappy situation’, with the profits going to his wife and seven children.
Reference: POS/ULV R/0594874



Pigments of Life

A duo display of artworks by Sara Choudhrey and Michael Green
17 October – 9 December 2016

Pigments of Life, an exhibition by Sara Choudhrey and Michael Green

Pigments of Life illustrates the world around us through different yet similar eyes.

The selected artworks are a testament to the influence of the beauty and mysteries of the natural world. They feed into creativity, contributing to an ever-changing hybrid society.

Artists Sara Choudhrey and Michael Green highlight that regardless of our differences and similarities as a diasporic community scattered around the world, at the root of everything we all value, and often take for granted, our beautiful natural environment. Our basic make-up will always keep us connected.

Together, Sara and Michael provide a stunning and colourful array of visuals, not only acknowledging our hybrid and global community, but also celebrating it.

Mundus Subterraneous: the Templeman Library’s first commissioned art installation

The Templeman Library’s first commissioned art installation, is on show in the Templeman Gallery at various times throughout the year, among other events.

Mundus Subterraneous is an exciting new piece by artist in residence Sarah Craske, revealing the microscopic life forms hidden in the Library.

Sarah forensically swabbed items from our Special Collections to collect the microflora growing on them. She then cultivated them and documented their growth, blending it with an image from Athanasius Kircher’s seventeenth-century work Mundus Subterraneus from our collections. Using macro and timelapse photography, digital and analogue technologies, Sarah has created a short film depicting the beauty of the unseen microbial world in our books.

Watch the full installation and project background

Beyond the classic library activities of curation, discovery and provision of content, we now see the emergence of libraries as centres for collaborative learning and research. At the same time as digitising and curating our own physical collections, we are curating ever greater bundles of born digital content. Digital is convenient, accessible and available wherever you are. As we make this journey into the digital, fundamental shifts are happening to the way we experience libraries. Sarah was invited to work with our staff and students to explore some of these changes in the library experience.

As part of this project Sarah also created the Microbiota Archive. This is a colourful collection of photos of microscopic growths taken from the hands of Library and IT staff.

Pictured above: a still from the film.

The Templeman Library’s first art commission

Update: This installation is now on display.

An interdisciplinary projection installation

We have commissioned an exciting, interdisciplinary projection installation, which will become one of the inaugural artworks to be displayed in the new Templeman Library wing, from September.

Library books are handled by thousands of people, all leaving their microflora mark. As time passes, books become centres of microbial data and data transfer.

The artwork will explore the potential of demonstrating an object actively growing and revealing its microflora, with the hope to reveal the ‘unseen’ to the library audience and make people aware of their own personal interactions with the objects they use.

The artist, Sarah Craske, describes the work as having “a reinterpretation of information and knowledge exchange, whilst questioning digital and physical relationships and reflecting on their tensions.”

Image shown above: ‘Metamorphoses’ by Sarah Craske

Four books have been shortlisted:

Top left, Mundus Subterraneus 1665. Top right, Metamorphoses 1640. Bottom left, The Cyclopedia of Art and Sciences 1728. Bottom right, Emblems of Mortality [date unknown].

Top left, Mundus Subterraneus 1665. Top right, Metamorphoses 1640. Bottom left, The Cyclopedia of Art and Sciences 1728. Bottom right, Emblems of Mortality [date unknown].

Sarah will choose which book will form the basis of the installation.

Students and staff will be invited to contribute to this piece of work through an event where they can volunteer anonymously a fingerprint on a bed of agar in a petri dish. Working with the School of Biosciences, these samples will be collected and cultivated.

After a few days they will have grown to reveal the anonymous microflora collected, which can then be displayed in the Library and directly demonstrates the unseen world they contribute to.

The process

Two different scientific approaches can be applied when working with the books. The leaves can be carefully swabbed using forensic techniques and cultures created separately therefore not damaging the books, or the leaves themselves can be submerged in agar and filmed whilst revealing their microbial world.

Using microscopes and time lapse photography, the cultured microflora’s growth will be documented and then layered over an image of the book, creating a film which will reveal the beauty of the unseen microbiological world of archival material. A film projection within one of the Templeman Library’s new exhibition spaces, will run from September.

The artist

Through mixed media and performance, Sarah Craske creates work that reflects on the cultural relationship between art and science. She lives and works between London, Canterbury and Ramsgate, UK and exhibits globally. She is currently based as a postgraduate student at Central St Martins at the University of the Arts London and as an Honorary Research Fellow and Research Associate here in the Centre for the History of the Sciences at the University of Kent.

Her research activity – working with Dr. Charlotte Sleigh, of the University’s School of History, and Dr Simon Park from the University of Surrey – has recently been awarded an AHRC Innovation Award, in recognition of their innovative contribution to collaborative inter-relationships between the sciences, arts and humanities.

Metamorphoses: Gaming Art and Science with Ovid’ specifically examines art and science relationships and methodologies. Working towards an exhibition of hybrid arts and science knowledge and starting from core research questions, which include reflection upon disease history, social history, and material data. A 300-year-old English copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses is being analysed, ‘read’ and reinterpreted through a biological lens.

For further information on the project please follow @UKCLibraryIT on Twitter.