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Poet Laureate puts John Rylands Totem in pole position

20 May 2010

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy is to unveil an 11-metre high piece of public art at The University of Manchester’s world-famous John Rylands Library today (20 May).

The Totem artwork at John Rylands
The Totem artwork at John Rylands

The stained glass and metal sculpture was the judges’ top choice after wading through more than a hundred applications from across Britain, Europe and the United States last year.

Funded by the Oglesby Charitable Trust, the work -  entitled Totem - can be seen by the Library’s new entrance wing, close to the original 1890s building famed for its gothic architecture.

The winning design, installed in January, came from artist Derek Hunt based at Limelight Studios in Leicestershire.

His work can be seen in churches, public buildings, theatres and shopping centres around the UK.

Derek Hunt said: “I am thrilled to be awarded such a prestigious commission.

“I wanted to create a sense of place with a glass installation which would embody the spirit of The John Rylands Library and celebrate its collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives.

“The design refers to some of the internationally famous collections, such as the St John’s Fragment, thought to be the earliest piece of New Testament in existence.”

Jan Wilkinson, University Librarian and Director of The John Rylands Library said she is delighted with the finished piece.

"Totem embodies a harmony of contemporary and traditional practice which responds both to the architecture of The John Rylands Library and to the outstanding collections housed within it.

“We are immensely grateful to the Oglesby Charitable Trust for generously funding this project, which will make a lasting contribution to our visitors' experience of the building and its collections."

Michael Oglesby, Chairman of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, said: “The Oglesby Charitable Trust is committed to supporting the best of modern art in the North West.

“It would be difficult to imagine a more inspiring setting for any artwork than the atrium of the John Rylands Library.”

Notes for editors

Photo opportunities are available from noon at the John Rylands Library.

The John Rylands Library is part of The University of Manchester. The University Library's Special Collections are housed in the historic, Grade 1-listed John Rylands Library which reopened in 2007 after a major three-year restoration and development project. It is open to the public free of charge. Opening times: Mon 12.00-5.00, Tues-Sat 10.00-5.00, Sun 12.00-5.00. Visit www.manchester.ac.uk/library

The £16.8 million project was funded by £8.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £3 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) plus generous contributions from The University of Manchester, trusts and foundations and businesses and individuals.

For enquiries contact:
Michelle Sharples
0161 306 1884
07974 711959
michelle.sharples@manchester.ac.uk
The John Rylands Library
The University of Manchester
150 Deansgate
Manchester
M3 3EH

and

Mike Addelman
Media Relations
The University of manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881567
Michael.addelman@manchester.ac.uk