Spiral Nebula in the Snow – #ChristmasCountdown Door no. 20

Door no. 20

Here’s a snowy and wintery image from our University Archives.

Photograph of Geoffrey Clarke’s sculpture, in the snow, in front of Sir Basil Spence’s Herschel Building at Newcastle University, for the Department of Physics, taken 1963.

‘Spiral Nebula’ (also known as ‘Swirling Nebula’) was designed by noted post-war sculptor Geoffrey Clarke in 1962. It is a leading example of post-war public art. It is one of the few from this period that is situated in Newcastle.

It was commissioned by the architect Basil Spence as part of the design of the Herschel Building for the Physics Department of Kings College, University of Durham (which later in 1963 became Newcastle University). It reflects the scientific advances being made at this time,  such as Britain’s first satellite, ‘Ariel 1’, which was launched in 1963 (the same year as the building was opened and sculpture unveiled).

Read more about the sculpture’s history and its revival here.

‘Spiral Nebula’ was one of five pieces of post-war public art in the North East to be given listed status at Grade II by Historic England in August 2016 (announced by Historic England September 2016). Read more here.

This photograph is part of the photographic section of the University Archives. To see more images of ‘Spiral Nebula’ in situ and being constructed, visit CollectionsCaptured.

23rd December – Foxes in the Snow

The Common Fox

Probably every Englishman thinks he knows the common fox sufficiently well to run no risk of confounding it with any other animal…

The ordinary English fox, as represented in our coloured plate, is of reddish brown colour above, white beneath, while the outer surfaces of the ears, and portions of those of the limbs are black, and the extreme tip of the tail is white. Occasionally, however, the tip of the tail may be dark grey, or even black, while in one specimen caught in Warwickshire, the whole of the under-parts were greyish black. The total length of the head and body may vary from 27 to 46 inches, and that of the tail from 12 to 15 inches.

Extract taken from The Royal Natural History, Vol. I, edited by Richard Lydekker, B.A., F.G.S, F.Z.S, Etc.
Contains coloured plates and illustrations, with the above plate illustrated by W. Kuhnert.

This book is part of the 19th Century Collection and can be found here.

2nd December – “Tommy in the Snow”

Cat , day 2


Find “Tommy in the Snow” from the Crawhall Album JC/6/2/8 for yourself here.

Joseph Crawhall II (1821-1896), was a businessman, artist and patron of the arts. His artistic achievements including wood engraving, watercolours and contributions to Punch magazine. The pursuits of himself and his family contributed to the thriving cultural environment of 19th Century Newcastle.

Not only contributing to the cultural heritage of Newcastle through his own artwork, Crawhall also promoted the arts through his role as a Secretary for the Arts Association of Newcastle upon Tyne and through his continuing efforts to preserve local architecture.

Find out more about the Crawhall Collection here.