50 Items 26: Library Art Collections

A library performs many functions; it is a place of study, of discussion and debate, of collaboration and conference, or simply a warm respite from the winter winds. However, one role the Brunel Library performs you may not have noted is that it is also a palace of art.


Central concourse, looking east, late afternoon sun by Alan Bennett

The Library walls are ornamented by the Brunel University Collection of Artworks, a 700 item strong assemblage of prints, paintings and sculptures that have been amassed by the university over the course of its history.


Their placement in the Library seems appropriate. Intense work demands occasional distraction and taking a break and refreshing the self through enjoyment of art makes sense. Picasso apparently claimed that “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” so a five minute break looking at the Olympic Poster collection must at least give our insides a buff. Art also engenders creativity “A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind” (Eugene Ionesco). Allowing the mind to wander could bring new insight and perspectives.

The Library

The Library by Olwen Jones


The University displays its collections in offices, administrative buildings and public spaces across the campus. In the Library you will find several interesting series and types of images. A favourite is the linotype The Library, one of the first things you will encounter upon entering the Library at the Welcome Desk. It is painted by the painter and printmaker Olwen Jones and depicts a cosy room lined with books and featuring an inviting chair. As mentioned, a number of prints belong to the Olympic Poster Collection, which is comprised of framed colour screenprints and lithographs from an international selection of artists. For example, the colourful Olympic Objects by German artist Otmar Alt created for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The poster illustrates a menagerie of abstract animals in primary hues. Certainly looking at these visuals gives new perception into the creativity of the human mind.


Munich Games 1972 Olympics Poster by Otmar Alt

One of the key collections the university holds is by the painter Alan Bennett, who painted several images of the university campus since the seventies to the present day. The Library holds several of these paintings and they evoke a pleasing glimpse into life outside the Bannerman walls. This is hardly scratching the surface of the many painting, prints and designs that can be explored.


Altogether these painting that grace our walls should not be overlooked in the primary pursuit of knowledge, but included as one of the many reasons to visit the Library.


One thought on “50 Items 26: Library Art Collections

  1. Pingback: Brunel Library in 50 blog posts | Brunel Special Collections

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