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Your place to explore new perspectives on British art from 1900 to now. Through interviews, films, image galleries and essays, we uncover the creative lives of the people behind the art on our walls.

Shelf Life: Unpacking a library...Books from the Bob Lockyer Bequest

[ Library and Archive )

Our Librarian, Jane Holt, delves into the treasure trove of books generously bequeathed by Bob Lockyer and explores the fascinating stories and knowledge contained in the many books and letters.

In October 2022 we received the Bob Lockyer Bequest of art works and studio pottery. A display of some these works is now on in the exhibition, Bob Lockyer: Choreographing a Collection. In addition, we also acquired several hundred books from his library. We are now in the process of cataloguing these. Looking through the books it is fascinating as we see how they relate to his life, work and interests. There are monographs and catalogues on artists and potters Lockyer collected, as well works on dance, performance art and the history of ballet. All the images in this blog are from books and ephemera in the Bob Lockyer Bequest now in the Pallant House Gallery and Archives.

Bob Lockyer was Director of Dance for BBC Television for 40 years. He worked with many contemporary choreographers such as Martha Graham, Kenneth MacMillan, Frederick Ashton, Siobhan Davies, Wayne McGregor and Merce Cunningham. We even discovered letters from Merce Cunnigham to Bob in one of his books!

Letter and envelope with curly black handwriting

During the 1960’s, with his partner, Sir John Drummond, Lockyer worked on a major documentary on Serge Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes “Diaghilev” – A Film Biography (BBC-TV and Bavarian TV co-production of BBC-TV broadcast1968). Later, in the 1980s he created a series of avant-garde dance films called Dance for the Camera, which attracted audiences of over 1.7 million.

We have several books relating to Diaghilev from Lockyer’s library, including three copies of The Memoirs of Lydia Sokolova. One copy is signed and dedicated to John Drummond, one is a specially bound edition, and the third is signed and dedicated to Bob Lockyer, with three press cuttings of obituaries of Sokolova. The front cover and frontispiece of this book is a drawing by Christopher Wood Portrait of Serge Diaghilev, 1926, on display in Choreographing a Collection.

Bookcover with a sketch of a man in a hat with monocle and coat with fur collar with title in red over the top 'Dancing for Diaghilev'
Handwritten letter

During the 1980’s Bob Lockyer also produced and/or directed several BBC-TV films on artists, potters and their work. In his book collection, we found some personal references to these films.

One of Bob Lockyer’s interests was collecting British studio pottery, and there are many books on potters in the collection. In 1982, Lockyer was one of the producers on the Omnibus programme on the potter, Lucie Rie (Lucie Rie: Omnibus. BBC14 Feb 1982). The programme accompanied a major retrospective exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum of Rie’s work, and she was filmed in her studio talking to David Attenborough about her work. The Bob Lockyer Bequest includes a lot of studio pottery but unfortunately does not include works by Lucie Rie. However, several there are works by important British potters such as Bernard Leach, Michael Cardew, Alison Britten, Julian Stair and Ewen Henderson.

Book inside page with signature

In 1983 BBC1 broadcast an edition of Omnibus which included a film on land artist Richard Long directed by Bob Lockyer. It also included a discussion on land art and a review of the Art Council’s touring exhibition Landscape in Britain 1850-1950 (touring 10 February – 28 August 1983).

Lockyer’s Omnibus film followed Richard Long as he created a piece of land-art on Dartmoor. Lockyer kept notes from Long on filming, schedules, voice-overs, etc, along with gallery cards and photographs. Some were tucked inside books by Long or about his work and some Lockyer had as a framed collage on his wall.

A series of colour photographs of landscapes

In the same year Richard Long had an exhibition at the Arnolfini, Richard Long Selected Works 1965-1983 (26 March – 7 May 1983). This was the first one-man show of his work in his home city of Bristol. To accompany the exhibition a book entitled Touchstones was published. Inside Lockyer’s copy, signed and inscribed ‘for Bob from Richard’, we found a copy of Arnolfini Review 1983, an invitation to the Opening View and a review of the exhibition from the Financial Times (no date). The Opening View invitation card has a note from Long to Lockyer dated Wednesday 2 (probably March 1983) and refers to the Omnibus film and it’s reception.

View card with greyscale landscape photograph
Book cover with photograph in black and white of a rock monument
Newspaper cuttings

Two years after directing the film on Richard Long, Lockyer directed Elisabeth Frink: Sculptor, broadcast 13 March 1985 on BBC2.  The film looked at a major retrospective of Frink’s work at the Royal Academy with the exhibition’s curator Sarah Kent and using film for the BBC Archives.  In his library, there were several books on Frink, including two with additional ephemera.

The catalogue for the RA exhibition, signed by Frink, includes several undated and unattributed photographs of Frink’s work and of her working in her studio.

Photographs in colour - 3 in a coloumn
Photographs of several prints of faces and figures

This catalogue, Lucie-Smith, Edward. Elisabeth Frink 1930-1993 (Beaux Arts, London. 1997) was published after Frink’s death, and included two illustrations with hand written annotations both marked as ‘ARTWORK CT 17 Oct p.24 4-colour’.  It is not clear what this refers to, but it is clear that Lockyer liked, appreciated and collected Frink’s work.  Elisabeth Frink’s Wounded Horse, c.1987, charcoal and watercolour on paper, from the Bob Lockyer Bequest is currently on display in Room 4.

Photograph of a bronze sculpture of a man with a bright white face in a green landscape
Photographs with annotations of sculpted bronze hands and a figure with arms held crossed in front of it

As we continue to catalogue the Bob Lockyer’s Bequest, we hope to discover more gems hidden inside the pages of his books! Make sure to follow us on social media for updates (links in footer below).

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