Embodying life and death: The body in Anglo-Saxon England

22nd October 2016, Durham University

The Anglo-Saxon period is characterised by significant cultural shifts and transformations. Emerging kingdoms, religious conversion, economic intensification, growing cultural contact and mobility result in increasing social complexity. Situated directly at the centre of these multiple transformations are the understudied Anglo-Saxon bodies, enacting, resisting and adapting to the ever-changing world around them. Although only the bare bones of these bodies remain, further evidence for the physicality, corporeality and personal expression manifest themselves in texts, art, material culture and more.

This one-day conference invited speakers from across multiple disciplines to converge on the topic of Anglo-Saxon bodies. Over the course of the day, presentations on nakedness, rebellious nuns, monstrous creatures, corpse positioning and saintly healing were followed by vibrant discussion. Central to this day was past and present visual cultures pertaining to Anglo-Saxon England. Figural iconography present on/in dress accessories, military paraphernalia, household objects, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture and more were brought together to better understand how the body was represented in this period alongside it’s symbolic and ideological significance. Beyond historical materials, speakers also critically reflected on visual materials produced by contemporary scholarship and the role these materials play in generating knowledge and shaping current thought. These included photographs and illustrations of objects and figural imagery, maps and plans of cemetery layouts, body positions and grave cuts. The result was a rich and diverse day, in which boundaries were deconstructed as connections and parallels were drawn across Archaeology, History, Art history and Literary studies, demonstrating the strength and necessity of interdisciplinarity.

Tristan Lake, November 2016

Perceptions of Architecture in Early Modern Europe

‘Perceptions of Architecture in Early Modern Europe,’ a conference held on 5 November at St. Mary’s College and funded by the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture, brought together an interdisciplinary, international group of scholars to explore the criteria, terms, and techniques with which experiences of the European built environment, 1500-1850, were constructed and described. Architectural history, art history, Classics, French Studies, and Italian Studies were the disciplines represented, and three members of CVAC – Jan Clarke, Stefano Cracolici, and Edmund Thomas – spoke alongside scholars from across the UK as well as Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.  The conference opened with a keynote lecture by Professor Maurice Howard OBE (University of Sussex), who surveyed a wide range of useful sources and themes; sources stretched from legislation to topographical writings, and themes encompassed competition, imitation, health, performance and artifice.  Through three sessions of three papers apiece, speakers then examined case studies from England, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.  Together, these papers and the subsequent discussion delved further into revealing sources and concepts with which to evaluate early modern architectural experiences.  Among the sources were poetry, prints, playscripts, and newspapers, while concepts included tensions between imitation and transgression, evocations of unease, responses to risk and destruction, the symbolism of style, and the roles of sight, memory and the imagination.  Conference participants – both speakers and non-speaking delegates – thus merged strands of scholarly inquiry often scattered across visual, cultural, and literary history into a day of ongoing interdisciplinary conversation.

Kimberley Skelton November 2016

Durham Leverhulme Doctoral Training in Visual Culture

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Caribbean and Diasporic Culture, Creativity and Research

On Wednesday 19 October 2016 ‘Caribbean and Diasporic Culture, Creativity and Research’ took place at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle. Co-organised by Jennifer Terry (English Studies and CVAC, Durham) and Laura Fish (Creative Writing, Northumbria), this symposium set out to think about practice-led research across disciplines and with particular respect to those who have found their creative work limited by existing frames and those who seek to initiate dialogues beyond dominant cultural traditions and institutions.

 

With just under thirty participants, the event brought together members of the public, practitioners, students, curators, cultural activists and academics.

 

The morning programme began with Joan Anim-Addo (Poet and Professor of Caribbean Literature and Culture at Goldsmiths, University of London) raising questions about serial exploitation of BAME artists, institutional contexts and collective agency. She was followed by Ingrid Pollard (Photographer and Media Artist) who shared her work on belonging and Britain, which draws on the colonial film unit archive at the BFI. After lunch Tina Gharavi (Filmmaker and Senior Lecturer in Digital Media/Film at Newcastle University) shared part of ‘Tribalism is Killing Us’, her provocative film on race and social conditioning that will be co-created via a participatory online platform. Lubaina Himid (Artist and Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire) then spoke about her practice and creating ‘imagined conversations’ via her work series ‘cottom.com’ and ‘Naming the Money.’ The symposium concluded with a plenary discussion involving all; this picked up on earlier threads, further probed politics of exclusion in the Arts and in universities, and identified some areas of focus for future activities.

 

Bringing together discussion of literature, visual art, photography, film etc. yielded mutual benefits, not least because of the isolation of some practitioners occupying minority status in their daily working contexts. The sense of creative practice and ‘research’ broadly defined, that is research as finding things and finding things out as well as research as critical reflection on creative work, also proved generative.

 

Jenny Terry November 2016

Workshop: Handling Objects at The Oriental Museum

On the 1st of November, the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture organized a workshop on the premises of the Oriental Museum, formally known as the Gulbenkian Museum of Oriental Art and Archaeology, for the new Leverhulme Doctoral Scholars. Aside from contemplating one of the many facets of colonialism promoted through a contemporary lens, by perusing the galleries, one could not help but be naturally absorbed in understanding the concept behind the pedagogy of this educational museum, whose collections continue to expand and provide an interactive means of understanding a slice of history. What is particularly interesting about the collection is the juxtaposition of the “old” and the “new”, often displayed side by side, challenging traditional modes of representation and ultimately changing the ways of seeing.

 

The name of the workshop, “Handling Objects”, already suggests a thrilling enterprise, and the venture has proved to bring fresh insights with regards to both the Oriental Museum’s growing collection, and to the intimate experience of object handling. Presently a privilege for specialists, object handling has the potential of enhancing the ability of understanding the history of a specific piece, while at the same time raising new questions regarding aspects of materiality and sensorial perception. One cannot help but wonder at the perks of such a possibility made accessible to a wider audience; in the words of Dr Craig Barclay, the head of the museum, an ideal world would be one in which visitors could not only benefit from contemplating cultural objects displayed in a closed, “safe” space, but one in which the members of the public are actively given the choice of handling these objects. Indeed this would irrevocably change the way in which we engaged with a museum object and has the potential to, no doubt, revolutionize the reality of a museum experience in more ways than one.

 

 

Iris Ordean, November 2016

Embodying life and death: The body in Anglo-Saxon England

22nd October 2016, Durham University

The Anglo-Saxon period is characterised by significant cultural shifts and transformations. Emerging kingdoms, religious conversion, economic intensification, growing cultural contact and mobility result in increasing social complexity. Situated directly at the centre of these multiple transformations are the understudied Anglo-Saxon bodies, enacting, resisting and adapting to the ever-changing world around them. Although only the bare bones of these bodies remain, further evidence for the physicality, corporeality and personal expression manifest themselves in texts, art, material culture and more.

This one-day conference invited speakers from across multiple disciplines to converge on the topic of Anglo-Saxon bodies. Over the course of the day, presentations on nakedness, rebellious nuns, monstrous creatures, corpse positioning and saintly healing were followed by vibrant discussion. Central to this day was past and present visual cultures pertaining to Anglo-Saxon England. Figural iconography present on/in dress accessories, military paraphernalia, household objects, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture and more were brought together to better understand how the body was represented in this period alongside it’s symbolic and ideological significance. Beyond historical materials, speakers also critically reflected on visual materials produced by contemporary scholarship and the role these materials play in generating knowledge and shaping current thought. These included photographs and illustrations of objects and figural imagery, maps and plans of cemetery layouts, body positions and grave cuts. The result was a rich and diverse day, in which boundaries were deconstructed as connections and parallels were drawn across Archaeology, History, Art history and Literary studies, demonstrating the strength and necessity of interdisciplinarity.

Tristan Lake November 2016

Art Fund Film event: Vincent Van Gogh – A New Way of Seeing

5:45pm to 8:00pm, ER 140, Elvet Riverside 2, New Elvet, Durham, DH1 3JT

The showing has been arranged in collaboration with staff at Durham University’s Centre for Visual Arts and Culture. It will be introduced by Dr Anthony Parton, a distinguished art historian from the university, with time afterwards for discussion.

The “Exhibition on Screen‟ documentaries from Seventh Art Productions form an innovative series of high quality films about the work of individual artists based on major art exhibitions and collections. Each film is shown only once at selected venues around the country. This provides a further chance to see Vincent Van Gogh – a New Way of Seeing, originally released in 2015, the 125th anniversary of the artist’s death. For this documentary, Seventh Art enjoyed unprecedented access to the treasures of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. The film provides viewers with the inspiring experience of seeing Vincent‟s iconic masterpieces close-up on screen and also discusses recent research that questions some of the myths about his troubled life.

To book tickets please click here.

Creating a Thunderclap – Visual Arts Strategy launch Friday 14th October 2016

Last Friday was the launch UNTITLED, A Strategic Plan for Visual Arts in North East England at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Twitter: @cvanetwork Facebook: www.facebook.com/cvanetwork/

 

Durham Leverhulme Doctoral Training Programme in Visual Culture – Applications open.

Leverhulme Application Guidance Notes for entry October 2017

Up to 6 fully-funded three-year PhD studentships are currently available in the Durham Leverhulme Interdisciplinary Training Programme in Visual Culture (DLITP VC) for entry in October 2017. We welcome applications from graduates in the arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and life sciences who wish to pursue a PhD in visual science or visual culture.

More information available here.

 

The Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art

Durham University has formally agreed a partnership with Auckland Castle Trust to establish The Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art.

The research centre’s twin focus will be on County Durham’s remarkable collections in Spanish art, on the one hand, and the University’s exceptional strengths in Spanish and Latin American studies, on the other.

The new Centre, which is being supported by a grant from Santander Universities UK and additional funding from Durham University, will be an embedded part of the University based in Bishop Auckland, in County Durham.

An international search to recruit a director will begin this autumn, with the Centre due to open in autumn 2017.

Alongside research activities, there are plans for the Centre to host major conferences and workshops in the field of Spanish and Latin American art, as well as providing opportunities for postgraduate study.

Auckland Castle is home to a significant collection of Spanish art, including the paintings of Jacob and his Twelve Sons by Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán, and crucially the research centre will link Durham University’s academic research to the curatorial programme at the Trust’s planned Spanish Art Gallery, which is due to open in 2019.

Together, the research centre and gallery will link academic research with the curation of exhibitions and events designed to expand and enhance the public profile of Spanish and Latin American art, both in the UK and around the world.

It is also hoped that the initiative will make a significant contribution to the region’s economy by attracting tourists and visiting scholars from around the world.

For more information about Spanish and Latin American art research at Durham University please visit our website. The media release about our partnership with Auckland Castle Trust can also be read here.