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Lady Margaret Hall Library: Current Exhibitions

Our changing exhibitions showcase some of the most interesting collections from LMH Library and Archives. You can view current exhibitions in the display cases on the entrance floor - just lift the protective covers - and you can explore highlights on this page. Have a look at our previous exhibitions at to see more of the collection:

At the moment we don't have step-free access to the exhibition space, but if you contact the library (email items can be brought to the downstairs floor. External visitors can view exhibitions by appointment. 

Current Exhibitions

Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot | Erin Hughes

Artwork installed in LMH Library: marbled paper collage of a tawny owl.

1 of 7 | Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot

In 2019, LMH alumna Erin Hughes (Fine Art 2009) contacted Allan Doig, her former LMH tutor. Since graduating from LMH, Erin had been doing extensive work with collages – originally focusing on depictions of interiors and modern life, particularly using ersatz materials and fake marble laminates. However, after moving to a remote hillside in Mid Wales, she has been turning more towards natural landscapes and birds, using hand-marbled paper to create images imitating inlaid stone Pietre Dure creations.

She was inspired to contact Allan Doig with an update of her work after she had read, in the 2019 Brown Book, an article on our book binding exhibition, and particularly admired the pictures of marbled papers from that display. He immediately saw the exciting potential for an art installation in LMH Library, to tie in with our book displays, and put us in touch.

Erin Hughes, Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot (2019).

Illustration of a tawny owl.

2 of 7 | Tawny owl from 'British Ornithology'

Visiting LMH and looking at some books from the Briggs Room, she was drawn to our second edition of British Ornithology (London: Graves, 1821), written and illustrated by George Graves. She was fascinated by the plates depicting owls, wanting to explore how caricatured and deadpan the drawing style is, particularly for the depiction of such symbolically intelligent and ethereal creatures.

George Graves, British Ornithology (London: W. and S. Graves, 1821). Briggs Room 598.2 9-11

Artwork installed in LMH Library: marbled paper collage of an eagle owl.

3 of 7 | Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot

Their expressions are comparable to the contemporary comedy trope of looking directly at the camera, breaking the fourth wall. They are deeply serious, but also quite preposterous due to their facial discs making them look almost cartoon-like, and their stereoscopic forward-facing eyes humanising them compared to many birds.

Erin Hughes, Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot (2019).

Close up of marbled paper collage.

4 of 7 | Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot: Work in Progress

Erin decided to set each of Graves’ owls against a repeating backdrop of a simple landscape drawn from a Pietre Dure image, emphasizing their staged compositions. She hand-marbled all the paper, using a variety of styles – as well as natural marbles, she also used a loose nonpareil marble pattern to recreate the effect of the owl feathers. This technique is traditionally used on end papers and book bindings, further locating the work within the library context.

Work in progress detail; Erin Hughes, Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot (2019).

Artwork installed in LMH Library: marbled paper collage of a long-eared owl.

5 of 7 | Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot

The finished installation spans four corners of the library, holding the space with their curious expressions. They have been placed on cupboard doors, again tying it into the Pietre Dure tradition, which was often used for cabinet door inlays. When you first enter the library they grab your attention, brightening the whole space (several visitors have remarked that they thought they were images on back-lit flatscreens). However, it is only when you study them up close you begin to see all the details, and the different textures of marble, getting the full experience. The labour intensive, hand-made collage process creates an image that deeply rewards an active and close look.

Erin Hughes, Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot (2019).

The artist, Erin Hughes, standing next to one of the collages installed in LMH Library

6 of 7 | Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot: The Artist

The exhibition opened in September 2019, for the annual Oxford Open Doors ( day (when many colleges and spaces in Oxford put on free exhibitions or displays, and encourage visitors). Erin also returned to the college in Michaelmas 2019 to talk to our Fine Arts students about her life as an artist and the creation of the works. We are hoping that the installation will remain up for this year’s Gaudy Garden Party and Open Doors (coronavirus permitting!)

Erin Hughes, Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot (2019).

Artwork installed in LMH Library: marbled paper collage of a snowy owl.

7 of 7 | Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot

After completing her BA in Fine Art at LMH and the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Erin spent four years living and working in Berlin. She graduated with an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London in 2018. Whilst in Berlin she co-founded Cypher Space, which later led to co-founding Cypher Billboard in London, and she also curates Contemporary Collaborations at Robert Young Antiques in London. Recent exhibitions include; Surface Matters, Take Courage Gallery, London 2020; Adazzel, JGM Gallery, London, 2020; Autumn Show, Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes, 2019; Bounds,, 2019; A Raw Garden, Fitzrovia Gallery, 2019; Hidden, Mid-Wales Arts Centre, 2019; FAKERS, Thames-Side Studios Gallery, London 2018; Paper Cuts, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2018; Floored, Glass Cloud Gallery, 2018; Home Me 3, Cypher Billboard, London 2017; Mud, Tokyo and Swimming, presented by imlabor, Park Tower Hall Gallery1, Tokyo, 2017.

To see more of Erin Hughes’ work, visit or her instagram handle here:

Erin Hughes, Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot (2019).

Flora & Fauna: Fauna

Line drawing of a 'Mantichora'. Caption: 'Of the Picture and Shape of the Mantichora'.

1 of 6 | 'Beast or rather Monster'

17th-century bestiary The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes is a collection of creatures, some more real than others. Among the more recognisable descriptions are the ‘Cat’ and ‘Wilde cat’, as well as larger species like the ‘Lyon’ and ‘Linx’. But these are joined by a more fantastical cat-like creature, the manticore or ‘Mantichora’. 

The legend of the manticore was first told in Persia. This version of it is described by Edward Topsell (c. 1572–1625) as having a body and feet ‘like a Lyons’ but a face ‘like vnto a mans’, with ‘the taile of a Scorpion’ and ‘the voice of a small trumpet’. You can also see its ‘treble rowe of teeth’, which it uses to eat people.

There is debate around to what extent people at the time believed in the reality of creatures like the manticore, or whether they had a more symbolic significance.

Edward Topsell, The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes (London: William Laggard, 1607). Briggs Room 599 24

John Tenniel's illustration of the Cheshire Cat.

2 of 6 | Cats with grins

The Cheshire Cat’s grin is less threatening than the manticore’s, but still a bit uncanny. ‘To grin like a Cheshire cat’ was a 19th-century idiom before Lewis Carroll (1832–1898) borrowed it for a character name, but there are many theories about where the phrase originated.

John Tenniel (1820–1914) created the illustrations for early editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, including this one. Cats sometimes appeared in his more satirical work too, with the faces of political figures like William Gladstone; anthropomorphised animals were popular in the Victorian era.

Our copy of Alice’s Adventures was given to Edith Jebb by the author. It was donated to LMH by Jebb’s niece, Cynthia Borough, who studied at LMH between 1919 and 1922.

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (London: Macmillan and Co., 1866), illustrated by John Tenniel. Briggs Room 823.99 270

Front cover of 'Ma Cats, Pa Cats and their Kittens, Introduced by Louis Wain'.

3 of 6 | 'A whole cat world'

‘He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world.’

– H.G. Wells

When Louis Wain (1860–1939) and Emily Richardson (1850–1886) married in 1883, they adopted a black and white kitten named Peter. This was the start of Louis Wain’s fascination with drawing cats.

Louis Wain, Pa Cats, Ma Cats and their Kittens (London; New York: R. Tuck & Sons, [1903?]). Locked Stack 096 37

Double page from 'Ma Cats, Pa Cats and their Kittens', showing cats leap-frogging and reaching jars from shelves.

4 of 6 | ‘A whole cat world’

Richardson developed breast cancer soon after they married, and Wain began to draw Peter while the two of them kept her company during her illness. Soon Wain was drawing enough cats to produce more than two hundred illustrated books over his lifetime. Much of his later life was spent in hospital receiving care for mental illness, where he continued to produce illustrations. Work has recently begun on a film of Wain’s life. 

The early 20th century saw the transformation of cats from mistrusted animals into treasured companions. Work by artists and writers portraying cats in a positive light may have both contributed to and reflected this, including Pa Cats, Ma Cats and their Kittens and Wain’s many other publications.

Louis Wain, Pa Cats, Ma Cats and their Kittens (London; New York: R. Tuck & Sons, [1903?]). Locked Stack 096 37

Front cover of 'Ginger & Pickles, by Beatrix Potter'.

5 of 6 | Ginger & Pickles

Like Louis Wain, Beatrix Potter (1866–1943) was inspired by her pets, most famously by her rabbit Peter. Ginger & Pickles is part of the Peter Rabbit series, and Peter and other characters from the series pop up in the book, visiting the shop run by the title characters.

Beatrix Potter, Ginger & Pickles (London; New York: Frederick Warne, 1909). Locked Stack 096 20

Illustration from 'Ginger & Pickles' showing the animal characters in their shop.

6 of 6 | Ginger & Pickles

Ginger, the cat in Ginger & Pickles, was also inspired by a real animal: Potter based him on a cat called Tommy Bunkle, who lived with a school teacher near Potter’s house in the Lake District. The book is dedicated to a local shopkeeper, ‘old Mr. John Taylor, who “thinks he might pass as a dormouse”’; Potter based the character of John Dormouse on him.

As well as writing and illustrating her tales of fictional animals, Potter was involved in a more scientific approach to nature. Her interest in fungi lead her to study at Kew Gardens where she produced hundreds of scientific illustrations.

Beatrix Potter, Ginger & Pickles (London; New York: Frederick Warne, 1909). Locked Stack 096 20

Flora & Fauna: LMH Flora & Fauna and World War II

Illustration of LMH grounds in the 1930s. Caption: 'Lady Margaret Hall Garden in Spring'.

1 of 8 | LMH Flora & Fauna and World War II

These images show some of the dramatic changes that occurred in the LMH grounds over a single decade, from the beautiful flowers and lawns of the early 1930s to the vegetable patches erected to help ‘Dig For Victory’ and the ducks producing eggs for hall during World War II.

E.S. Rohde, Oxford’s College Gardens (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1932). 942.571 152

Aerial monochrome photograph of LMH.

2 of 8 | LMH Flora & Fauna and World War II

Aerial view of LMH in 1935. LMH Archives

Monochrome photograph of students digging in LMH gardens.

3 of 8 | LMH Flora & Fauna and World War II

Cuttings Album 4. LMH Archives

Monochrome photograph of students digging in LMH gardens.

4 of 8 | LMH Flora & Fauna and World War II

Cuttings Album 4. LMH Archives

Monochrome photograph of a vegetable patch in LMH gardens.

5 of 8 | LMH Flora & Fauna and World War II

Cuttings Album 4. LMH Archives

Monochrome photograph of feeding ducks in LMH gardens.

6 of 8 | LMH Flora & Fauna and World War II

Cuttings Album 4. LMH Archives

Monochrome photograph of a duck pond at LMH.

7 of 8 | LMH Flora & Fauna and World War II

Cuttings Album 4. LMH Archives

Handwritten note (transcribed in caption).

8 of 8 | LMH Flora & Fauna and World War II

'While all the Saints were occupied / upon their Common Day, / An Angel-Baby unespied, / Deep in the mud unsanctified, / An egg - the First - did lay.

Oh! Courteous & punctual Duck! / Who recks for rain? Who minds the muck? / You take the leas: you shall have luck.

November 1942 / Is ... welcome now that you / With Saints & Central Heat allied / Keep souls & bodies fortified.

In 1942 Miss Hurnard started to keep ducks & hens for the Hall. (we had been told we might hope to get the first eggs in November)'

November 1942. LMH Archives

Flora & Fauna: Flora

Line drawing of 'The Holly bush or tree'.

1 of 7 | Parkinson’s 'Theatrum Botanicum'

John Parkinson (1567-1650), was one of the great English writers who straddled the divide between the last herbalists and the first botanists; apothecary to James I and Royal Botanist to Charles I. His Theatrum Botanicum was published in 1640.  The illustrations were made by carving designs onto blocks of wood – a technique that created slightly simplistic and crude designs, which rapidly wore out when printed from. The wood used was boxwood, and the size of the boxwood branch presented a challenge for creating large illustrations.

John Parkinson, Theatrum botanicum: the theatre of plants (London: Thomas Cotes, 1640). Briggs Room 580 3-4

Line drawing of 'Holly with smooth leaves, and one all over prickely'.

2 of 7 | Parkinson’s 'Theatrum Botanicum'

Our copy is the first edition, and is particularly interesting because it includes a large number of corrections done by an early owner, when the Latin classification of plants was in a state of flux. The original classification might seem arbitrary to today’s reader, with classes that include ‘sweete smelling plants’ and ‘hot and sharpe biting plants. Numerous annotations in an 18th century hand update the names of the individual plants to conform with Carl Linnaeus’ classification system – here you can see that holly was originally called Agrifolium sive Aquifolium but the later annotation gives it the genus Ilex. We know the name of our careful annotator, Geo: Heyward, but sadly nothing else.

John Parkinson, Theatrum botanicum: the theatre of plants (London: Thomas Cotes, 1640). Briggs Room 580 3-4

Frontispiece of 'Flora lapponica'.

3 of 7 | Linnaeus and Lapland

Carl Linnaeus was the Swedish biologist who formalised our current system of binomial nomenclature. His first expedition was to Lapland, and led to the publication of this work, first published in 1737. In it he described around 100 previously unidentified plants, and applied his new ideas about classification. In the frontispiece he can be seen wearing Sámi dress, surrounded by the flora and fauna of the region and Sámi on reindeer sledges. The plant in the bottom right corner is Twinflower, named by Jan Frederik Gronovius Linnaea borealis after Linnaeus. Linnaeus famously remarked:

Linnaea was named by the celebrated Gronovius and is a plant of Lapland, lowly, insignificant, disregarded, flowering but for a brief space — from Linnaeus who resembles it.’

Caroli Linnæi Flora lapponica (London: White, 1792). Briggs Room 581.9471 1

Holly illustration from the 'Flora Danica'.

4 of 7 | The Flora Danica

A product of the age of Enlightenment, the Flora Danica is a colossal encyclopaedia of botany which set out to faithfully represent all of the plants native to Denmark as faithfully as possible – aiming at life-size reproductions whenever possible. It was also one of the first major botanic publications to use the Linnaean naming system. Interestingly, the publishers of the Flora Danica wanted to use their work to educate the general public. For this purpose they sent copies to parishes across the country, at the same time hoping that readers would contribute their own knowledge of lesser-known native plant species. The illustrations here are made using copper plates, and richly hand coloured (whilst the edition sent to parishes was in black and white). Copper plates could be finer than woodcuts, and last longer.

Our library’s set was presented to LMH by John Ruskin (1819-1900), eminent art critic and early benefactor of the college. Ruskin was a strong supporter of education for women and, following his visit in 1884, donated a selection of books to the library that also included works by himself and by the 18th century novelist Maria Edgeworth.

Flora Danica (Various, 1766-1792). Briggs Room 581.9489 1-6

Holly illustration from 'Dendrologia Britannica'.

5 of 7 | Nineteenth-Century Botanical Books

These books, although produced on a far less grand scale than the Flora Danica, shared the same basic techniques of hand-coloured metal plates.

Peter William Watson, Dendrologia Britannica (London: Arch, 1825). Briggs Room 582 1-2

Rose illustration from 'Rosarum monographia'.

6 of 7 | Nineteenth-Century Botanical Books

Through the nineteenth century book production become more mass-market, so longer-lasting blocks were needed.

John Lindley, Rosarum monographia (London: Ridgway, 1820). Briggs Room 580.2 18

Botanical illustration from 'Floricultural cabinet and florists' magazine'.

7 of 7 | Nineteenth-Century Botanical Books

Steel plates replaced copper, whilst woodcut illustration received a revival thanks to electrotyping allowing the creation of copies of the original woodcut block.

Floricultural cabinet and florists' magazine (London: Whittaker, 1841-46). Briggs Room 580.5 9-14

Contact the Library

LMH Special Collections are open to visitors by appointment (email during staffed hours, Monday to Friday, 9.30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Lady Margaret Hall Library
Norham Gardens
United Kingdom


Telephone: (01865) 274361

The librarian, Jamie

Jamie Fishwick-Ford

(Librarian, they/them)

Sally Hamer

(Assistant Librarian, she/her)

Previous Exhibitions

Visit our online archive of previous exhibitions: