Inspiring sculpture will win over hearts and minds

“I hope the message behind the sculpture inspires students, staff, researchers and our wider community to pursue knowledge in exciting new ways.”

‘Master of the Universe’ is the latest addition to the University’s sculpture trail

Inspiring sculpture will win over hearts and minds. February 2023

This is the philosophy behind the installation of an iconic new artwork at the University. Located close to the heart of campus, it’s hoped the stunning sculpture will also stimulate the minds of those who see it.

Crafted from bronze by world-renowned Scottish artist Sir Edward Paolozzi, and donated by Leeds alumnus Douglas Caster, ‘Master of the Universe’ (1989) celebrates the interaction between art and science “as a powerful source for discovery”.

Taking pride of place outside the Edward Boyle Library, the sculpture – depicting a mechanical figure crouched over a mathematical diagram – is based on an imaginative drawing by artist and poet William Blake, depicting physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton.

It’s another important addition to our impressive range of public artwork, which is celebrated with an art trail that guides visitors, staff and students around the captivating campus collection.

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.”

Enriching lives

Douglas Caster, who completed his degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Leeds in 1975, went on to become a leader in the electronics industry. 

Feeling he had received an exceptional education at Leeds, Mr Caster became a longstanding donor and supporter of the University. 

He 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, Mr Caster 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.”


‘Master of the Universe’ joins other celebrated sculptures on campus by famous artists including Mitzi Cunliffe, Simon Fujiwara, Quentin Bell, William Chattaway, Barbara Hepworth, Liliane Lijn, Henry Moore and Hubert Dalwood.

Paolozzi was 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’, now displayed across the world, including outside the British Library in London, the Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh and Kowloon Park in Hong Kong.

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