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In Focus

The following objects represents a selection of topical, unusual or interesting records from our collection. These records have been selected by our team of curators.

ID number:  BIRBI-52.5
Title / Object name:  The Battle of the Beaux and the Belles
Category:  Visual art
Object type:  Drawing
Artist / Maker:  Beardsley, Aubrey (1872-1898)
Place made:  London
Date made:  about 1896

Published in the 1896 edition of Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock (1714), Beardsley’s drawing illustrates the moment the heroine Belinda attacks the Baron (opposite) with her fan after discovering he has cut and stolen a lock of her hair during their game of cards (Canto V: 75-102). The clothing worn by the subjects portray a range of styles in vogue in England in the eighteenth century.

Beardsley’s nine illustrations for this edition of Rape of the Lock were enthusiastically received by the British press before his untimely death in 1898.   [More Info]

ID number:  BIRRC-A0887
Title / Object name:  Z.E.E.P. (Zero Energy Experimental Pile)
Category:  Visual art
Object type:  Print
Artist / Maker:  Paolozzi, Eduardo (1924-2005)
Date made:  c.1970s

This series of six prints is a small part of an extensive and generous gift of prints from Sir Eduardo Paolozzi to the University of Birmingham. The title of this collection of prints is taken from a book on atomic physics that Paolozzi came across in the United States in the late 1960s. He was then working in the Arts Faculty at Berkeley, California, and on the 'Art and Technology' program at the Los Angeles County Museum, where he amassed imagery from a multitude of sources. His pratice at that period was to cull pictures and texts from magazines as diverse as Scientific American, Fortune, Playboy, National Geographic and many technical magazines, and copy, amend and re-order the material to create vivid collages.

This is a development of Pop Art, the movement of which Paolozzi was one of the founding fathers in the early 1950s. Z.E.E.P. is perhaps more mature and technically efficient than the earlier stages of Pop Art which is characterised by its source material of advertising, cinema imagery, comics and so on.

The six screen prints in Z.E.E.P. were made at the height of the Cold War. Imagery of nuclear armageddon - battleships, submarines, rockets - is intermingled with symbols of the space race, of 'cheesecake' and of the movies - can we recognise Shirley Maclaine in one of the prints? The individual titles evoke an uneasy quality, being couched in the language of the horror film title, of militarism and the mail order catalogue. The whole set has a fast and furious pace, reminiscent of flickering electric advertising signs and of the speed that images then, as now, pass in front of our eyes.   [More Info]

ID number:  ECM 816
Title / Object name:  Faience Chalice
Object type:  Chalice

Several fragments from the bowl of a relief decorated lotus chalice with three main registers: top two showing animals proceeding to the right; lower with marsh scenes. Reconstructed, with much restoration; lacks foot   [More Info]

BIRUG 488.jpg
ID number:  BIRUG 488
Title / Object name:  Azurite
Category:  Mineralogy
Object type:  Carbonate

Cut and polished slice of azurite, with malachite and a red coloured mineral.   [More Info]

ID number:  WB-HC0335
Title / Object name:  Harborne Tenants Association banner
Category:  Textile
Object type:  Banner
Artist / Maker:  Jephson, Julie
Place made:  West Midlands: Birmingham
Date made:  1909

Harborne Tenants Association banner, representing residents of Moor Pool Estate, which was designed by John Sutton Nettlefold in 1907. Worked by Julie Jephson in 1909.   [More Info]

ID number:  BIRBI-G0022
Category:  Numismatics
Object type:  Coin
Artist / Maker:  Byzantion
Place made:  Istanbul
Date made:  125 BC-127 AD

Obverse: Helmeted head r. Reverse: Galley l.   [More Info]