The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, established in 1970, is a hidden gem at the heart of the University of Leeds campus, located within the Parkinson building. It displays treasures from the University's art collection. The University of Leeds received its first painting in 1885: a portrait by John Pettie (1839-1893) of John Deakin Heaton (1817-1880), 1884 who was Chairman of Leeds Council. Over the years, its art collection grew from a handful of landscapes, seascapes and portraits to a varied array of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photgraphs, ceramics and public art.
An important gift came in 1923 from Sir Michael Sadler (1861-1943) who was the Vice Chancellor of the University at the time. He was a champion of British modernism who devoted much energy to encouraging the arts in his city as well as being a committee member and donor of the Contemporary Art Society in London between 1923 until his death.
And in 1949, the Yorkshire businessman, Eric Gregory (1888-1959) - also Contemporary Art Society Committee Member (1947-56) and designated buyer in 1953 - offered to finance a scheme for fellowships in the creative arts. For more than 20 years, painters, sculptors, poets and musicians were regarded as members of the University, while continuing to work independently.
This in turn inspired the University to invest more in the arts. It expanded its Fine Art department and the Art Treasures Committee allocated £100 per year to buy original art works in 1954. Gregory also left a bequest which included artworks by Matthew Smith, David Jones, Ceri Richards, Victor Pasmore, Ben Nicholson and Henry Moore. More recent acquisitions have been works on paper by Katrina Palmer and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.