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Lady Margaret Hall Library: Hoot Hoot, Hoot Hoot

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 middle 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. 

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.

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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.

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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).

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)