The value of journals past and present to your learning, practice, and research

An interview with 3rd year, Fine Art student, Ian Green by Beth Delwiche, Librarian, Learning, Teaching, and Research Services


BD: So Ian, I understand you have an interest in collecting things from the past? Is this right?

IA: Yes definitely, although I don’t really see things ‘from the past’ –

I see them as having different contexts and perspectives. It’s really interesting to see opinions from the time about what are now iconic artworks, it shows the impact they made (or lack thereof) and how different the attitudes in the art world were then.


BD: What sort of information would you use from them in your major project research and/ your practice?

IA:  As I say it’s amazing to understand how different opinions were decades ago and I think it’s really important to understand how attitudes change towards what we may consider important now. It allows us to see a trajectory from the past and an ability to understand where we are now and where we could be heading in the future. It gives us an insight into attitudes of the time and why certain things happened in that way. It’s astonishing how re-contextualisation can change things – it’s almost like re-writing history.


BD: Do you have a favourite journal or book?

IA: I really enjoy Art International – especially the earlier ones (1962 – 73) as it’s fascinating to discover just why certain artworks and concepts made such an impact at the time. The early  issues of Art In America is also curious as there was so much happening and so many concepts, I can see many are recycled now under the guise of cutting edge movement, but the initial impetus is there. It’s easy to miss important info in the ‘reference only’ books because you don’t have the time to sit down and leaf through them.


BD: Do you have any words of wisdom to offer (as a 3rd year) to offer other students about using the library service?

IA: I don’t know about words of wisdom ! …but I do spend a lot of time digging into the books and trying to find artists and movements I’ve never heard of. There are a lot of very rare and important books in the library that have had an huge impact on me and I you won’t find them anywhere else – believe me ! Spend some time checking out artists you’ve never heard of and obscure concepts and theories, often they can help you make a breakthrough in your work you’ve been looking for.

All images (c) Beth Delwiche.

^Posted on behalf of Beth Delwiche.

Words of romance

For Valentine’s Day we are looking at items in our archive collection with the theme of love and romance.



Originally published in 1883, Pan-Pipes is book of old songs, many of which are based on love and romance.  Composer Theo Marzials arranged the songs and accompaniments and artist Walter Crane created beautiful illustrations to accompany them.


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The Birmingham Triennial Musical Festivals

We have been looking at a collection of Birmingham Musical Festival programmes in our Conservatoire Archive.


The first Birmingham Musical Festival took place in 1768 and was performed at St. Phillip’s Church (now Birmingham Cathedral) to raise funds for the construction of a new General Hospital.  From 1784, it became the Birmingham Triennial Musical Festival, running performances every three years.  The aim of the festivals continued to be to raise funds for the Birmingham General Hospital.  Early Festivals were performed in St. Phillip’s Church or the Theatre Royal in New Street but due to popularity, soon outgrew these venues.

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Getting started in the library



Library staff will be holding Welcome events in first few weeks (23rd September – 18th October) to help you with any library related questions in the library.


Days and Times:


Day Time Location
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 11am to 12pm Curzon Library
Wednesday 12pm to 1pm Margaret Street Library
Wednesday 12pm to 1pm St Paul’s Library
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 11am to 12pm Mary Seacole Library

 Library things that will help you during your course:

  • Birmingham City University has four libraries: Curzon, Mary Seacole, School of Art and School of Jewellery. Each contain a wealth of printed material to support courses taught at the respective campus.
  • Attend a library tour – to find out the location of your books
  • Make a note of your library PIN – you will need this to take books out of the library
  • Find the best space for you to study in the library
  • Meet the Customer Services Team (which include Advisors, Supervisors and Librarians) at the Library Help Desk – they are a friendly bunch
  • Have a look as your online subject guide for subject specific resources and to find out who your librarians are

^ Posted on behalf of Janet Fox and Huizhe Jin, Customer Services Team

The Golden Age of Children’s Book Illustration

We’ve discovered some works by influential Victorian children’s illustrators in our special collections. The period from around 1880 to the early twentieth century was known as the Golden Age of children’s illustrated books. During the Victorian age literacy improved and children were encouraged to read for pleasure. Childhood was often romanticised in children’s books.

We have work by three prominent illustrators in our collection. Kate Greenaway was a trained graphic designer and artist who started her career designing holiday cards. She later specialised in illustrating children’s books. Many of her illustrations accompanied nursery rhymes and the characters she drew often wore Regency costumes.

Since 1955 CILIP has awarded an annual honorary medal in Kate Greenaway’s memory for outstanding illustration in a children’s book.


A Day in a Child’s Life (1881) with music arranged by Myles B. Foster was illustrated by Greenaway. The songs tell the story of a child’s day from waking up to going to bed. The illustration of playtime shows the attention to detail and choice of delicate colours.


Walter Crane was part of the Arts and Crafts movement and worked in collaboration with William Morris. He also drew highly colourful and detailed illustrations for nursery rhymes and children’s books.  The Baby’s Bouquet is a companion to his earlier book Baby Opera. Many of the rhymes are in French and German.


The beautifully illustrated design below accompanies the rhyme Buy a Broom.


The final item is In Fairy Land (1870) illustrated by Richard Doyle.  Doyle was involved with the Punch magazine for a number of years and designed the cover for the first edition.  He later illustrated children’s books and was fascinated by fairy tales.

fairy land

In Fairy Land was his most important work for children with its attention to detail and focus on the elf world.

fairy land 2


We hope you enjoyed this selection of items. If you’d like to view them or anything else in our collections, please get in touch to book a visit Records and Archives

^Posted on behalf of Caroline Blundell, Records and Archives

Post edited 17.6.19 to update link to Records and Archives centre.