Archive and Special Collections | Blog

From Belsen to Merrion Market

The Leeds College of Art material we hold in our archive and special collections contains some fascinating material.

It is not a large collection but does contain some significant items, including a series of scrapbooks containing newspaper cuttings from the mid 1920’s through to the early 1970’s. This latter period covers the transformation of Leeds College of Art into the Faculty of Art and Design, becoming part of Leeds Polytechnic.

Some of the stories documented include items about Eric Taylor. He was by all accounts an inspirational teacher and artist and Principal of Leeds College of Art from 1956 until 1970. Taylor became Assistant Director of the Polytechnic overseeing the early stages of that Polytechnic transformation. His resignation in 1971 was a response to the overbearing government directives concerning Polytechnic education and in particular meddling with the principles of art and design which he had championed throughout his teaching career.

Some of Eric Taylor most powerful art works were those he created during, and in response to, the liberation of Belsen, Taylor was among the first Allied soldiers who entered the camp and bore witness to the aftermath of the Nazi atrocities. One largely forgotten work by Eric Taylor is the mosaic mural he created for the Merrion Market, here in Leeds. It is one of those pieces of public art that for those that pass it day by day hovers in the periphery of their vision. Only when your full gaze is directed towards it can you fully appreciate the intricacies of its interlocking shapes and colours. The mural was made up by Oppenheimers of Manchester and must have been one of their last commissions as they went out of business in 1965.

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Dr Keith Rowntree

Keith Rowntree maintains the University's Archive and Special Collections which are currently held at the University’s Library, situated on our Headingley Campus. We collect, describe and preserve material for future generations while seeking to promote knowledge of, and access to this rich heritage for educational, professional and research purposes.

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