Skip to Main Content

Library Exhibitions and Events: Liver and Lights: Celebrating 40 Years

The University of Southampton Library offers a varied programme of events and exhibition across its sites.

We believe in handmadeness: 40 years of John Bently’s  

Liver & Lights Scriptorium 

Photo credit: Bren O'Donnell


Catherine Polley (Head of Collections Engagement) and Fiona Nichols (Engagement Librarian)

Find out more about John Bently

On display from

Friday 3rd May 2024 – Thursday 6th June 2024


Winchester School of Art Library

Check the opening hours to see when all our libraries are open.


This exhibition celebrates forty years of the Liver & Lights Scriptorium, artist John Bently’s imprint for exploring the infinite possibilities of the book as a form of art. The collection is part of Winchester School of Art Library’s Artists’ Book Collection.  

I first came across the Liver & Lights Scriptorium and the work of John Bently when I worked at Chelsea College of Art and Design in the early 1990s. I became excited by the different materials and forms, not just paper, in how these books were put together, and it made me question the term artists’ books and what they were.  When I joined Winchester School of Art I wanted to add John’s works to the collection.  John had a full set complete with ephemera and together with the then Librarian, Linda Newington, we bought it. Liver & Lights has only been possible through its loyal subscribers, an early example of crowd funding, and many of the books list those subscribers.  

We have continued as loyal subscribers and we are now one of only a handful of institutions, that also includes the British Library Special Collections, and the Tate Gallery, who hold the full collection. 

The exhibition showcases John’s artists’ books through a variety of different formats, content and design and covers examples that stretch across the whole forty years of making and performing. 

Enjoy the handmadeness!

Catherine Polley

Head of Collections Engagement