Levitating Woman 'The Dreamer'
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Quentin Bell (1910-1996): Levitating Woman, known as 'The Dreamer'Quentin Bell was the son of Vanessa and Clive Bell and nephew of Virginia Woolf. He is renowned as a ceramist artist and for his books on the Bloomsbury artists and a biography of Virginia Woolf. He was appointed Head of Fine Art at the University of Leeds in 1959, and later as Professor of Fine Art, until 1967. In 1978, Stanley Burton suggested acquiring a work by Bell for the Leeds campus. Bell proposed a levitating figure - a recurrent theme in his art inspired by a conjuror's trick he saw as a child - and suggested six potential locations. Stanley and the Vice-Chancellor, Lord Boyle, eventually decided upon a site near the Edward Boyle Library. The work was to be cast in fibreglass with a steel armature. An exciting inter-disciplinary partnership emerged with the Department of Civil Engineering. Dr. Gurdev Singh was responsible for the design and construction of the sculpture's internal armature and the Department was responsible for the installation of the work, which was unveiled by Stanley Burton in October 1982.
One of the most popular public artworks on campus, it has moved several times. It was removed from the Edward Boyle Library site due to the building expansion and was re-sited in the quiet courtyard of the Baines Wing coffee bar. More recently it has been relocated in the Clothworkers' Court, so that it is more accessible to visitors. It is commonly known on campus as 'The Dreamer,' but it is not clear when this title was acquired. It has also been called 'The Astral Lady,' although Bell's original notes make reference to the 'Elmdon Figure'. Whatever its title or location, the artwork is now firmly a key element in shared memory and place-making experience on campus.
Technique: fibreglass, free-standing; cast
Number: LEEUA 1982.009
Date: 1982Credit: © Olivier Bell