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Canterbury’s classics heroes revealed

10 October 2019

In the past 146 years, University of Canterbury (UC) students of many disciplines have benefited from some truly remarkable teachers of classics, whose influence continues to echo through the generations.


In the University of Canterbury's Teece Museum, Master's degree student Natalie Looyer holds an image of Marion Steven and an historical article featuring her Greek vases.

In the past 146 years, University of Canterbury (UC) students of many disciplines have benefited from some truly remarkable classics teachers, whose influence continues to echo through the generations.

One standout example is Marion Steven, founder of UC’s James Logie Memorial Collection, and the subject of the first of three talks by UC Master's students and UC Arts academics during the BECA Christchurch Heritage Festival.

On 11 October, postgraduate classics student Natalie Looyer focuses on Marion Steven’s life, having recently interviewed her family, friends, students and colleagues for an oral history project.

She chose to research Marion’s life and legacy because “every story I had heard about her in the UC Classics department suggested that she was a fascinating and very memorable individual. Interviewing Marion’s family, friends, past students and colleagues, I learned about Marion’s devotion to arts education, her generosity towards her community and her perseverance in the male-dominated realm of academia”.

Steven was passionate, but not precious, about Greek painted pottery, Looyer says. “The James Logie Memorial Collection includes rare and valuable world-class Greek vases, but Marion was far from precious with her vases, transporting them in the front basket of her bicycle and allowing young children to handle them when classes came to visit. Marion believed in the collection as a hands-on teaching experience.”

After studying Greek and Classics at UC, Steven went on to lecture from 1944 to 1977. She gifted Greek painted pottery to UC in 1957, establishing the James Logie collection as a tribute to her husband, who was Registrar of the College up until his death in 1956.

The collection is an important teaching and research resource for students, academics and interested members of the public. Now housed at UC’s Teece Museum at the Christchurch Arts Centre, the collection includes vases from Corinth and Athens, the islands in the Aegean, East Greece and the Greek colonies in South Italy and Sicily. The styles represented include Geometric, Orientalising and Corinthian, with emphasis placed on Black and Red-Figure vases from the Archaic and Classical Periods (ca. 600-330 BCE).

Register here for Marion Steven: an Academic Legacy


Pioneering advocate of student clubs

The second talk on 18 October is history postgraduate student Emily Rosevear’s ode to Francis Haslam, Professor of Classics 1887 to 1912, and pioneering advocate of student clubs. His early contribution to promoting student social life, accommodation, opportunities to play sports and military training encouraged a more holistic way of regarding students, beyond academic achievement.

Register here for the story of Professor Francis Haslam


The Latin inscription on the Bridge of Remembrance

UC Classics academic Dr Gary Morrison has reason to believe that the Latin inscription on the Bridge of Remembrance came from Hugh Stewart, UC Classics Professor, New Zealand Army Officer and NZ RSA President. Dr Morrison will shed further light on Stewart and a possible alternate meaning of the inscription at a talk on 24 October.

Museum doors will open at 5pm; talks begin at 5.45pm and finish 6.30pm. Tickets are free but registration is required. While at the venue, have a look at view Fantastic Feasts, the newest exhibition at the Teece Museum. Register here for Hugh Stewart's Odyssey.

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