You have javascript disabled in your browser. We recommend turning it on for a better experience on this site.

Duncan art collection returns to Leeds

Artworks owned by the well-known Yorkshire-based collector Ronnie Duncan are to be exhibited at the University of Leeds' art gallery this autumn.

Duncan has done much to encourage art in Yorkshire for over 50 years, amassing a collection of more than 100 objects at his home near Otley. Following the success of a previous exhibition of Duncan's collection at the University in 2007, the forthcoming showcase focuses on recent acquisitions, including works by Ian Hamilton Finlay, Oleg Kudryashov and Rachel Whiteread.

Duncan's collection of mainly British art of the 1950s to the present day highlights the importance of the Leeds art scene within the national context in this period. The forthcoming exhibition, which focuses on artworks collected by Duncan from the 1970s to the present, runs from 23 September to 28 November 2008 at the University's Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery and entry is free.

Duncan's art collection is rare in that he collected the work of his generation. He supported progressive British artists whose experiments in abstraction were largely misunderstood and under-appreciated until later decades, such as Terry Frost, Trevor Bell and Roger Hilton. Ronnie Duncan's unique vision as a collector is informed by his 'first love,' poetry, as well as lifelong friendships with influential Leeds and St. Ives artists, writers and curators.

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery (formerly the University Gallery Leeds) collaborated with staff from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds in 2006-2007 to mount Part I of a two-part exhibition of the Duncan Collection. Part I explored highlights of the Duncan Collection from the 1950s-1960s, as well as his associated African art collection. This autumn 2008, Part II of the collection will be shown at the Gallery, this time focussing on artworks collected by Duncan from the 1970s to the present.  

Duncan collected his first artwork in 1948, and so 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of this ever-growing collection. A book, published to coincide with the exhibition in September 2008, pays tribute to Ronnie Duncan and the different aspects of his collection. The book is being edited by Ben Read, and will include essays by Read, Dr. Will Rea and Chris Taylor (all lecturers at the University of Leeds) as well as Dr. Patrick Eyres, editor of the New Arcadian Press, and is published with support from the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society and the Leeds Art Collections Fund.

In keeping with Duncan's enthusiasm for collecting, throughout the exhibition run the Gallery will offer a series of evening talks on different aspects of collecting in Britain, in collaboration with Museum Studies at the University of Leeds (School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies).

Duncan once said that art is subversive "because creativity never rests".  Duncan's own creativity as a collector can be seen in his often daring purchases and thought-provoking combinations of objects.

For further information: 

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email


10.00- 5.00, Monday-Friday

Admission: FREE 

Opening Night: Tuesday, 23 September, 18:00-20:00


The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Parkinson Building, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT

Tel: +44 (0)113 3432778, Fax: +44 (0)113 3435561 or E-mail:

Back to the top