Master of the Universe sculpture outside Edward Boyle library being put into place by constructors.

Estates and Galleries light up campus

Last updated on 26 April 2023

The installation this week of a new sculpture outside the Edward Boyle Library has been a collaboration between the Facilities Directorate and colleagues working in the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery.

Lighting design

‘Master of the Universe’, by world-renowned sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, took up its position last week in an operation coordinated by Christopher Wade, Architectural Technical Officer in the Estates Design Office.

A key consideration in the setting for the sculpture has been the lighting design, which Christopher has worked on with lighting designer Alkestie Skarlatou of Light in Space.

“Illuminating the sculpture in the evenings not only benefits the sculpture’s appearance, but also ensures it is a wayfinding point after dark,” says Christopher.

“The design of the lighting is critical as it influences how the sculpture is ‘read’ outside daylight hours. A lighting wash over the whole sculpture would risk overwhelming its detail and misses the opportunity darkness presents to emphasise parts of the sculpture”, he adds.

Inspiration from William Blake

Master of the Universe’ is a bronze sculpture which takes its inspiration from a painting by the artist William Blake. In Blake’s painting, the figure is a depiction of the mathematician Sir Isaac Newton crouched over a mathematical diagram, from which he is taking measurements with a pair of compasses. In the Paolozzi sculpture, the figure is astylistically mechanical representation of the sculptor.

Although the messages the two works seek to convey are different, the figure’s posture and focus in each is the same and the lighting emphasises the same area of the sculpture – the face, hands and area the compasses rest on – as the light in Blake’s painting.

“Positioning the lights to achieve this took some consideration, as they need to be raised off the ground but not obvious during daylight hours,” says Christopher. “We are therefore fixing the lights to the underside of a bespoke interpretation panel, which during daytime presents information about the sculpture.”

In order to limit energy use, the lights will be switched on automatically at dusk and off again later in the evening along with other lights on campus.

Grounds and Garden team

The Facilities Directorate are also putting finishing touches to the Paolozzi’s surroundings, with a  landscaping design implemented by thes Grounds and Gardens team, providing a sympathetic backdrop for the sculpture.

Leeds Alumni

The piece was donated by Douglas Caster, who completed his degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Leeds in 1975.

Masud Khokhar, University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, said:

“Leeds is a significant centre of science, art, and culture, so it’s fitting that our community will be able to experience this fascinating artwork whenever they visit the Edward Boyle Library.”

“I hope the message behind the sculpture inspires students, staff, researchers and our wider community to pursue knowledge in exciting new ways.”

For further information, read this news story about the Paolozzi Sculpture arriving at the university.