A famous sculpture by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, donated by a Leeds alumnus, has joined a growing collection of public art on the University’s campus.
The bronze sculpture, ‘Master of the Universe’ (1989), has been installed outside the Edward Boyle Library. The piece was donated by Douglas Caster, who completed his degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Leeds in 1975.
While Blake may have been satirising Newton, I see this work as an exciting union of two British geniuses. Together, they present to us nature and science, poetry, art, architecture – all welded, interconnected, interdependent.
Showing a mechanical figure crouched over a mathematical diagram, the sculpture is based on an imaginative drawing by artist and poet William Blake, depicting physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton.
Describing ‘Master of the Universe’, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi previously said: “While Blake may have been satirising Newton, I see this work as an exciting union of two British geniuses. Together, they present to us nature and science, poetry, art, architecture – all welded, interconnected, interdependent.”
Paolozzi was a Scottish artist and sculptor, considered by many as a pioneer of pop art. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1979 and was appointed Her Majesty’s Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland in 1986 – a position he held until his death in 2005.
Paolozzi produced several editions of ‘Master of the Universe’, and they are displayed across the world, including outside the British Library in London, the Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh and Kowloon Park in Hong Kong.
Masud Khokhar, University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, said: “Leeds is a significant centre of science, art, and culture, so it’s fitting that our community will be able to experience this fascinating artwork whenever they visit the Edward Boyle Library.
“I hope the message behind the sculpture inspires students, staff, researchers and our wider community to pursue knowledge in exciting new ways.”
Douglas Caster CBE BSc FIET
After studying Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Leeds, Mr Caster went on to become a leader in the electronics business as a founder, director and ultimately Chief Executive and Chairman of Ultra Electronics Holdings plc.
The sculpture represents how I feel about my education at Leeds: exposure to different kinds of knowledge that came together and enriched my life. I hope it inspires generations of students to stay curious and keep learning.
Although his formal education was science-based, Mr Caster encountered a new perspective on arts and culture when he agreed to dog-sit for Maurice Beresford, a Professor of Economic History at Leeds. After bonding over their shared love of music, history and architecture, the pair stayed in contact for many years.
Feeling that he had received an exceptional education at Leeds, Mr Caster became a longstanding donor to and supporter of the University.
Mr Caster said: “The sculpture represents how I feel about my education at Leeds: exposure to different kinds of knowledge that came together and enriched my life. I hope it inspires generations of students to stay curious and keep learning so that they may also continue to enrich their lives.”
As well as providing grants for engineering students, he established the Douglas Caster Cultural Fellowships in Poetry, which gave emerging writers the time to devote themselves to their work, while inspiring students to write.
Wieke Eringa, Associate Director of the Cultural Institute, said: “We are very grateful to Douglas Caster for donating this iconic sculpture, which adds to the wealth of public art on campus. Based on a drawing of Newton by Blake, the sculpture represents this interaction between art and science that is a powerful source for discovery.
“We catalyse partnerships across disciplines at Leeds, for example through Leeds Creative Labs – an impactful programme that pairs creative professionals with researchers from the University.”
For media enquiries, contact University of Leeds Press Officer Mia Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos are available for use by journalists.
Sculpture details: ‘Master of the Universe’ by Eduardo Paolozzi (1924 - 2005), 1989, cast bronze, gift of Douglas Caster, 2023.