Unveiling of new sculpture Tumble #130

Tumble #130 is a new sculpture, recently installed on campus.

The sculpture has been placed in the Garden of Time as a memorial to Helen Beale and Francis Bell who met as young lecturers at the University of Stirling in its early years, and made a valuable contribution to the cultural life on campus.

Tumble #130 was created by highly-respected artist Andrea Geile. In this piece, the artist was inspired by ivy which is a recurring theme in her work. She describes it as one of the most bio-diverse plants in Scotland, supporting animals and wildlife, ever-growing, everlasting, and ‘a lovely image for life’. The dynamism and movement of the leaves makes it almost seem that it is dancing. Working in her Edinburgh studio, the artist drew and then plasma-cut each leaf out of corten steel.

Andrea Geile with her sculpture

In late May 2022, family, friends and colleagues of the couple gathered in the Garden of Time for a ceremonial unveiling of this new sculpture, which was purchased after an appeal, following Helen Beale’s death in 2020. At the ceremony, Helen and Francis were remembered, and you can read more about their lives below.

Remembering Helen

Helen Beale was appointed to Stirling’s French Department in 1968, a year after the University opened. She took early retirement in 2005, continuing thereafter as an independent scholar and researcher. Throughout these many years she was, modestly and self-effacingly, at the heart of the Department, a model to all in her utter devotion to her students, to their academic achievement and to their welfare. She showed the same concern for her fellow members of staff and her many friends. Her innumerable cards of sympathy or congratulation consoled and cheered many of us.

Helen came as a specialist in twentieth century French poetry but became an expert on painting and sculpture.  She worked with successive University Art Collection curators to broadcast the University’s collection.  She championed the work of J.D. Fergusson; her tours of the campus were legendary.  Beyond the campus Helen became an internationally celebrated authority on the French artist Eduard Pignon. Her substantial archive of books and papers on Pignon was recently accepted for inclusion in the University Library’s special collections.

Helen’s unquenchable resilience, her humour and her care for others were never more evident than in her last grievous illness. Doctors gave her six months to live; she lived on for five years. Her enthusiasms and productivity were undiminished. Her many visits to the hospital gained her new friends. We are all of us the richer for having known her.

Remembering Francis

Francis Bell was appointed in 1968 as Lecturer in Mathematics, immediately after completing his D.Phil. at Wadham College, Oxford.   He was a steadfast and highly respected member of the Department of Mathematics until his premature death in December 2006. Like Helen, he was committed to the pastoral care of his students, as evidenced by the notebooks in which he documented their progress.  He was meticulous and unassuming,  with a gentle sense of humour,  and with the knack of patiently persuading students to think for themselves.

He had specialized in Analysis and was well recognized as an expert in the field.  At Stirling he developed an interest in Algebraic Graph Theory, and the bulk of his publications were in that area.  He collaborated with mathematicians not only in Stirling but also in Belgrade, and he became well respected in the Serbian mathematical community; indeed he was a speaker at a conference in Belgrade only a few months before he died. His contributions to the University included compilation of the entire teaching timetable over a period of several years, in the days before computers could be used to lighten the task.  This was a complicated job which required diplomacy and tact in reconciling competing demands.   He was also co-organizer of an international Combinatorics conference held at Stirling in 1993; this took months of detailed preparation for the influx of 300 participants. We should remember him as a true academic who gave so much to the University in its first forty years.

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