Totem gets pole position at iconic library

Artist's impression of the architectural glass design for John Rylands Library

Artist’s impression of the design in situ

The University of Manchester’s world-famous John Rylands Library has commissioned a £40,000 piece of public art.  Artist Derek Hunt’s 11 Metre high “Totem” was the top choice after judges waded through more than one hundred applications from across Britain, Europe and the United States. Funded by the Oglesby Charitable Trust, the glass and steel sculpture will be installed in the Library’s new entrance wing close to the original 1890s building famed for its gothic architecture. The Leicestershire based artist’s design referred to the original Victorian colour scheme of John Rylands architect Basil Champneys, a’s archive. The commission is a coup for the artist whose work is seen around the UK in Mosques, Churches, public buildings, theatres, schools and shopping centres. Derek said:

“I wanted to create a glass installation which would embody the spirit of the John Rylands Library, reflect and celebrate its many collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives, and help to create a sense of place. The design refers to some of the internationally famous collections within the Library, such as the St John’s Fragment, the earliest piece of New Testament in existence bought by the library in 1920. I’m very pleased indeed to receive this commission.”

The glass structure will be assembled in 15no. 700mm by 700mm glass panels. It will also use antique glass etched, textured, sand blasted and shaped to fit the detail of the design. Dr Stella Butler, Deputy University Librarian and Associate Director of the John Rylands Library, said:

The John Rylands Library is one of Manchesters finest buildings, housing collections of international importance. The architecture, both old and new, is quite breathtaking. We are immensely grateful to the Oglesby Charitable Trust for generously funding what promises to be a remarkable piece of modern art, which will enhance visitors appreciation of the building and its collections. “

Michael Oglesby, Chairman of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, said:

“We actively supported the recent Unlocking the Rylands project. We are therefore delighted to continue our relationship with the Library by sponsoring this art commission. 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. “