Category Archives: Past exhibitions

Prescriptions: artists’ books

1 August – 17 November 2017
Curators: Stella Bolaki, Egidija Čiricaitė, Elspeth Millar, Helen Blomfield

This, is my Crisis, by Elizabeth Fraser. Photo by Egidija Čiricaitė

Waiting rooms, pills, bandages, surgery, ageing, death, healing, joy, relaxation, consultation, distress and pain are ubiquitous experiences, shared around the world. This exhibition responds to such experiences through the intimate and complex medium of the artist’s book.

The artists’ books in this exhibition were first shown at Prescriptions, an exhibition at The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury between April and August 2016, curated by Dr Stella Bolaki and Egidija Čiricaitė. A selection of the books were deposited with the University of Kent’s Special Collections & Archives.

The books on display in Prescriptions: artists’ books demonstrate a wide range of materials and bookbinding techniques. Bringing together books on cancer, chronic illness, disability, mental health, surgery, medicine and wellbeing, this exhibition reveals the communicative power of book art and its therapeutic potential.

Prescriptions: artists’ books includes work by: Martha Hall, Sophie Adams, Penny Alexander, Karen Apps, Heather Beardsley, Gaby Berglund Cardenas, Julie Brixey-Williams, Egidija Ciricaite, Allison Cooke Brown, Margaret Cooter, Amanda Couch, Sue Hague, Cas Holmes, Gemma Lacey, Pauline Lamont-Fisher, Andrew Malone, Anne Parfitt, David Paton, Corinne Perry, Stevie Ronnie, Mary Rouncefield, Erin K. Schmidt, Randi Annie Strand, Noriko Suzuki-Bosco, Amanda Watson-Will, Susie Wilson.

Further links

Capturing Collaborations

2 August – 17 November 2017
Artist: Keith Robinson

Capturing Collaborations. Image by Keith Robinson

Four paintings by artist Keith Robinson visually interpret a project from the School of Biosciences at the University of Kent (working with the University of Manchester).

This project is called BioProNET — short for the Bioprocessing Network — and it aims to facilitate interactions between academic and industrial scientists from across the UK in order to help find cheaper ways to make medicines that are currently very expensive.

Keith took his initial inspiration for the paintings from the interconnecting geometric patterns of Islamic art. He then toured the Bioscience labs at Kent to gain insight into scientific materials and concepts, before researching the people, companies and universities involved in BioProNET.

The four pieces — entitled Conception, Interaction, Location and Community — reflect the ideas, research, materials, people and places involved in BioProNET, as well as the collaborative nature of scientific research.

Sex, Death and Panto

5 April – 12 May 2017
Curated by second-year Drama and Theatre students

A regular second-year Drama and Theatre module on Victorian and Edwardian theatre is taught in collaboration with Kent’s Special Collections & Archives. It emphasises the use of archives in researching 19th–  and early 20th-century theatre.

This year, the students chose to focus on how crimes and scandals affected the theatre of the time, and on the renowned pantomimes performed at Drury Lane. They used primary sources from the University’s extensive Theatre and Performance Archives.

Here’s what the students say about their exhibition: 

Drury Lane Pantomime of the Late 19th Century

This exhibition explores the pantomimes performed at Drury Lane in the late 1800s, produced by Augustus Harris.

It uses primary sources of the time, such as playbills, to focus on this popular form of Christmas entertainment and its most popular acting profiles.

Your journey begins with maps of the time illustrating the location of Theatre Royal Drury Lane in relation to other theatres in the surrounding area, and the distance between Drury Lane and transport links. This research focuses on why Theatre Royal is the birthplace of panto.

The exhibition also dives deeper into Drury Lane to focus on two pantomimes – Dick Whittington and Cinderella – exploring the characters we know and love today, and how they came to be.

Alongside this are four case studies of actors and actresses of the time that played principle roles in the two pantos: Ada Blanche, Dan Leno, Isa Bowman and Alexandra Dagmar. The case studies explore their influence within the pantomime world and give understanding into why Augustus Harris chose females as principal male roles over males. We aim to leave you inspired to enjoy pantomimes as much as we do!

Crime, Scandal and Theatre

This exhibition focuses on a variety of crimes and scandals in the mid to late Victorian era and how they affected the surrounding theatres at the time.

We have used archival material to research into the underbelly of Victorian London and see how poverty, murder, prostitution and mental illness have affected and been reflected on the stage.

Part of our exhibition focuses on the communal fear of Jack the Ripper and how this influenced the choices of theatre productions and the portrayal of villains in London performances.

Another piece considers the societal appetite for sensation and scandal and how this translated to the theatre of the Victorian period; with a focus on the Influence of the Whitechapel killings, and the sex scandals surrounding Ernest Boulton and William Park.

We have also explored the societal view of prostitution and why playwrights like George Bernard Shaw created female characters ‘with a past’ as protagonists in his plays.

You(th) Vision photo exhibition

9–30 March 2017
Curators: Dr Olena Nizalova and Amy Randall, Centre for Health Services Studies

This exhibition features the winners of a European youth photo competition.

The photos depict scenes of transition from youth to adulthood as seen through the lens of young people, reflecting on what it means and how it feels to become adult nowadays. The competition attracted more than 200 entries from young people across Europe.

The exhibition is part of a European-wide research project titled EXCEPT. The project aims to develop effective and innovative policy initiatives to help young people in Europe overcome labour market insecurities and related risks.

Unlike traditional research projects, young people are the voice of EXCEPT and the project acts as a facilitator to ensure that their stories are heard by policy makers across Europe.

Competition winners include Filippo, 21, from Italy, whose entry (pictured) represents his feelings about becoming adult; ‘I think I will be really adult when I can see my father in the mirror’.


Mundus Subterraneous

SarahCraskeMundusSubterraneousFilmStillMundus Subterraneous, the Templeman Library’s first commissioned art installation, is an exciting new piece by artist in residence Sarah Craske, revealing the microscopic life forms hidden in the Library.

It opened on 21 March 2016, and is on show in the Templeman Gallery at various times throughout the year, among other events.

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.

Pictured above: a still from the film.

Saint-Omer and the British Army, 1914-1918

9 January – 3 March 2017

Curated by Terence Hughes and Suzie Bridges

The General Headquarters (GHQ) of the British Expeditionary Force was based at Saint-Omer during World War One and as the HQ of the Royal Flying Corps the small Pas-de-Calais town became the centre of British air power in France. ‘Saint-Omer and the British Army, 1914-1918’ will demonstrate the impact of World War One on Saint-Omer during occupation. The exhibition, whose displays are in both French and English, will be loaned to the University of Kent University for display in the Templeman Gallery during January 2017. The displays to be shown in the exhibition seek to illustrate the huge scale of the British commitment in Flanders during the Great War.  In graphic style the exhibition’s photographs, posters, newspaper reports and private letters will reveal the way in which Saint-Omer’s citizens stoically experienced the Great War alongside the British Army.

Saint Omer market, 1918, Image: IWM

Saint-Omer market, 1918, Image: Imperial War Museum (c) IWM Q11074, catalogue reference Q11074

Ulterior Motifs

17 October – 9 December 2016
Artist: Sara Choudhrey

Arabesque II © Sara Choudhrey 2015

Arabesque II © Sara Choudhrey 2015

Ulterior Motifs is a series of installations exploring distinctive styles, patterns and
motifs found on historical artefacts and architectural sites across the Islamic world.
Laser-cut and laser engraved patterns on white birch are presented against stark
panels of black, leading to an exploration of depth. The play of light and shade
results in an appreciation of each piece from a distance and also within close
proximity, encouraging the viewer’s dynamic motion in exploring analogue objects.

Sara Choudhrey presents traditional Islamic aesthetics within a contemporary fine
art context – asking the viewer to consider their understanding of wider art histories
and continuities. The styles of traditional Islamic art are shown to be continually
evolving with current interpretations presented here for audiences who may
appreciate that which is unfamiliar or re-appreciate that which is not.

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.

The University of Kent in students’ drawings


Friday 8 July – Friday 2 September 2016

In this exhibition, students from our Canterbury and Medway campuses reflect on their university life in images and words.

Curator Irina Lapushinskaya, a student in the School of Arts, explains the ideas behind the exhibition:

The University of Kent is a second home for many of us. Here, students not only earn a degree but also find new friends, make professional connections and make key decisions in life. The University will always be in our  hearts, no matter how much time we spend here – two semesters or several years.

Medway is sometimes considered the “arty” campus, but this exhibition shows that there are talented creative students in Canterbury as well. They don’t even have to be art students: they may study science or law, but they still can create wonderful drawings.

Two of the artists presenting their work are Canterbury-based students, and the other two are School of Music and Fine Art (Medway) graduates. Thus, it is a mix of works by professional artists and students for whom art is a hobby.

To complete the students’ narrative, they have written some thoughts on how the University affected them as individuals (rather than professionals). Images and text work together, each helping to explain the other.

The words and drawings hanging next to each other help viewers to understand the art and the artists’ life at university. They may also lead viewers to reflect on their own university experiences.

The University of Kent in Students’ Drawings was on display in the Templeman Gallery from Friday 8 July – Friday 2 September.

Artwork by Emma Griffiths

Women on Stage and in Society 1850 – 1915


Women on Stage and in Society 1850 – 1915
6 – 25 April 2016

This regular module for second year Drama students is taught in collaboration with Special Collections. It emphasises the use of archives in researching 19th and early 20th century theatre.

This year the students chose to focus on the roles of women in the theatre of the time. Individually, they chose a subtopic which interested them to research in more depth, using primary sources from the University’s extensive Theatre and Performance Archives, as well as digitised sources from other archives.

Here’s what the students say about their exhibition: 

About the exhibition

This exhibition focuses on the Victorian and Edwardian period of theatrical innovation and change, with specific reference to women. With roles varying from Pantomime figures to Actor managers, prominent actresses, playwrights and suffrage campaigners, their impact on the acting world and the world at large can easily be seen in this timeframe. A number of students have joined forces to put together this exhibition, with the sections it includes being described in brief paragraphs below.

Actresses in Victorian Media

A section devoted to the depiction and treatment of women of theatre in the media of the Victorian era. This section provides an in depth look at the life, trials and tribulations of Mrs Patrick Campbell at the hands of the media during her career across the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Life of a Victorian Actress

This section focuses on the life of the Victorian actress outside the stage, their social lives and private lives away from the limelight. Furthermore this section discusses the treatment of women and actresses during divorce.

Pantomime Actresses

A look at the roles of actresses in pantomime during the Victorian era and the transition from traditional pantomime to Gaiety Theatre. This section will explore these themes with reference to various plays and the lives of actresses Dorothy Craske and Ellen Farren.


This section looks at the depiction of women in the ever popular theatrical form of pantomime by examining the cross-gender roles of the dame and principal boy, with specific focus on the Victorian performers Dan Leno and Vesta Tilley and the play “Dick Whittington”.

Victorian Melodrama

A section discussing the portrayal of women in one of the most prominent and popular theatre forms of the Victorian era. Looking closely at the connotations of the costumes worn on stage alongside analysis of the ways female characters were used to highlight the social and political issues of the time.

Female Theatre Managers and Playwrights

In a male dominated society and profession, this section aims to explore the roles of women in the creative side of the theatre during the Victorian era. With specific reference to the lives and careers of Marie Bancroft (/Wilson) and Madge Kendall.

Female Actor Managers

The emergence of actor managers (now known as directors) in the late 19th century was no small event in the history of theatre. However a time of such gender inequality brought with it difficulties and challenges for women of the industry, which will be explored in this section.

Women as Professionals

This section looks at the reactions of the Victorian theatre towards women being a part of the evolving theatre industry and the stigma affixed to women of theatre with specific reference to the lives of the early Victorian actresses Mrs Anna Cora Mowatt and Miss Frankie Ann Kemble.

The Battle for Women’s Suffrage

This section deals with the views of women’s suffrage from both the proponents and those who were not in favour of the enfranchisement of women, using theatrical text and primary sources from the time and comparing the views they demonstrate.

The Politics of Victorian Theatre

This section of the exhibition will examine the back and forth between theatre practitioners and the ever convoluted parliamentary politics of the Victorian era, looking at theatrical responses to political movements and likewise the reactions of those within the political system to Suffrage Theatre. With detailed reference to the suffrage play “Votes for Women”.

Read more about the items on display

Women on Stage and in Society 1850 – 1915 was in the Gallery on Floor 1 West in the Templeman Library from 6 – 25 April 2016.