Sculptures, spies and decadence

A selection of links loosely connected to fashion, sculpture or the nineteenth century:

Still from From Russia with Love, 1963, dir. Terence Young.

From Russia with Love, 1963, dir. Terence Young.

1) Books offer the best life advice in my opinion, so why not fashion advice too? Shortlist have compiled a list of 25 fashion tips from literature. My favourite is from that best-loved secret agent James Bond. 

“Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad.”

Ian Fleming, From Russia With Love (1957).

2) The Institute of English Studies in Senate House London sent out an intriguing Call for Papers this week:

Aestheticism and Decadence in the Age of Modernism: 1895 to 1945

This interdisciplinary conference intends to open discussions about the meaning and significance of Aestheticism and Decadence as these movements evolved between 1895 and the mid-twentieth century. Aestheticism and Decadence were not vanquished with Wilde’s imprisonment but, rather, continued as vital and diverse forms in twentieth century aesthetics and culture. Their influence was in some cases openly acknowledged by the authors in question, but often it was oblique and obscured as many later writers, most famously the High Modernists, eschewed any admissions of such a debt.

I’m currently mulling on a paper about Ford Madox Ford and Pre-Raphaelitism and Arts and Crafts – so hopefully this conference will spur me on to actually write it (AKA give me another excuse to watch Parade’s End).

3) I took my students around the Warwick University Sculpture trail today in some glorious afternoon sunshine. It is a really impressive collection and the Mead Gallery at the Warwick Arts Centre have the Jeremy Deller, ‘All that Solid Melts into Air’ opening on the 2nd of May, so it is well worth a visit. There are maps and an audio guide you can download here

Bernard Schottlander’s 3B Series I (1968), behind the Rootes Building, University of Warwick.

 

Widening Participation and why I think it’s important

You can find out more about the The Courtauld Summer University and how to apply here.

After studying at the The Courtauld for both my MA and PhD, and now working as part of the academic staff, I have had many chances to absorb and observe the very special opportunities given to students at The Courtauld. Whether it is learning from world-experts carrying out cutting edge research, having a renowned art collection at your disposal, taking part in many of the great student-led initiatives like the EastWing exhibition or being able to attend lectures from international artists and academics, The Courtauld student experience is entirely unique. When I consider how I have benefited from what The Courtauld has to offer I often can’t believe my luck, but at the same time I am very aware that these chances are out of reach to many young people. The privileges I have gained have made me want to share my skills, knowledge and passion with the widest audience possible.

Supported by the team in the Public Programmes department, I have gradually built up experience delivering public talks, leading schools’ workshops and delivering out-reach sessions, ‘Art History in the Classroom’, in state schools around London. All of this stood me in good stead for the task of co-ordinating the Widening Participation Courtauld Summer University this July, with Stephanie Hesz, who was then Oak Foundation Young People’s Programme Coordinator. The Summer University – a four-day taster course of life as an undergraduate at The Courtauld –  was aimed at state school students, from non-traditional higher education backgrounds (in other words, in many cases these young people would be the first in their family to go to university) or from economically deprived neighbourhoods. Traditionally,  History of Art departments have struggled to attract a diverse student body. This problem is now more acute following the rises in fees and the rhetoric of some politicians and certain sections of the media, which suggest that a humanities degree is an indulgent way to spend £27,000. While this is a widely acknowledged issue that universities are working to address, in practice it can be a real challenge to reach out to young people who may not even know that our discipline exists, let alone those who may not think it is the subject for them. But as Stephanie, Henrietta and I read through the application forms, we were struck by the enthusiasm, commitment and intelligence of all our applicants, who were keen to come and see what The Courtauld offers.

As the Summer University approached, we were thrilled at the willingness of the academic and gallery staff and postgraduate and undergraduate students to volunteer their time. The Summer University students attended stimulating and challenging seminars on a wide range of topics, from medieval images of heaven, to the portraits we carry in our pockets. We also took the students to see the newly unveiled rehang at Tate Britain and a show of Cornelia Parker’s work at the Frith Street Gallery. It was satisfying to see how the students gained in confidence as they discussed works of art in galleries, seminars and in their brilliant and witty picture essays, which they presented to us at the end of the week.

Last year’s Summer University and the other widening participation programmes that took place in 2012-2013 have already produced some heartening results, with a number of students choosing to apply to and then achieving places on the undergraduate degree course starting this September. For me though, the wider aims of the programme – raising aspirations, inspiring confidence and awakening enthusiasm for our subject – go beyond fulfilling our obligation to HEFCE and OFFA. The Courtauld prides itself on educating the art historians and curators of tomorrow, therefore we need to ensure that our student body welcomes the widest range of voices if we want to continue to enjoy History of Art as a vibrant, global and evolving subject.

This article was originally published in The Courtauld News in 2013.

Widening Participation and The Courtauld Youth Programme

One of the reasons it has been a little bit quiet on the blog lately is that I’ve been working hard on the widening participation programme for The Courtauld Institute of Art. Later in the week I’ll be publishing some of my reflections on the programme and working with the lovely and smart young people who attend our events and courses, but first I thought I would let the students speak for themselves.

You can read a blog post from Harrison, who attended the Courtauld Summer University two years ago here.

And see a video some student ambassadors made about the Summer University below:

Finally, if you are are in year 12 and are interested in finding out more about studying history of art at university, or you know someone who is, there’s still time to apply to the Summer University 2014. You can find the details here.

Links to start the week:

Crystal_Palace_General_view_from_Water_Temple

  1. Two great conferences: Victorian Body Parts - Not a horror film, but a fantastic conference at Barts Pathology Museum in September, now open for registration. And a new call for papers from the Edwardian Culture Network: Edwardian Premonitions and Echoes.
  2. I am so fascinated in how you negotiate a three-dimensional dress into a flat-paper pattern and then back onto a real-life squishy person. You can see how the wonderful people at Collette Patterns start to work this out.
  3.  A new exhibition looking at the New Sculpture movement opens this week at the Leeds Art Gallery – The Age of Innocence. It looks great, so you should check it out if you are in the area.
  4. Owen Hatherley’s interesting take on revivalism in The Guardian. Should we rebuild the Crystal Palace?
Euphrosyne

Research Inspiration: Sophia Kokosalaki

EuphrosyneIt is no secret that I am a fan of both sculpture and fashion. Sophia Kokosalaki’s designs, then, are doubly interesting to me. Not only are they beautiful garments that I dream of wearing, but they are also elegant and sophisticated modern takes on classical drapery.

Kokosalaki was born in Athens in 1972 and has degrees in Greek and English as well as an MA in womenswear from Central Saint Martins. She designed the official costumes for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and has designed costumes for Irene Papas’s Antigone in 2005.

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Sculpture Season at the Grant Museum of Zoology

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Sculpture Season at the Grant Museum of Zoology, Wed 5 June – Sat 31 August. 

To my shame I never went to the Grant Museum of Zoology while I was a student at UCL. The only museum of zoology in London, its is the place to go if you want to see a Quagga skeleton or a jar of moles. The Grant Museum  moved into UCL’s Rockerfeller Building in 2010, designed by Paul Waterhouse (1861-1924), son of Alfred Waterhouse, to house the UCL Medical Schools.  You can definitely see the influence of the Gothic Revival in the red brick and portland stone facade and the wrought iron interiors of the Gower Street building, which was completed in 1907. The rooms now housing the zoological collection originally functioned as the medical school library, but is now full, from floor to ceiling, with glass cases of skeletons, stuffed animals and microscope slides.

My visit was prompted by finding out about Sculpture Season at the Grant Museum. Students from the Slade School of Art, studying sculpture, had been invited to make interventions into and around the museum collections, in collaboration with the museum’s curators. Continue reading

Reviewing Dickens, Morris and Collins.

Recently it’s been my pleasure to review some great books on nineteenth-century culture, especially the brilliant Thinking without Thinking by Vanessa Ryan. So I thought I would share some excerpts from my reviews. I can recommend all of these books and I’d love to hear about your own recent Victorian reads – please do leave a comment if you have a new favourite. For full reviews follow please follow the links below. All of these books are now available and can be purchased directly from the publishers or via amazon.

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Linda Parry, William Morris Textiles (V&A Publishing, 2013) 304 pp., £35 (HB), ISBN 9781851777327

‘Linda Parry’s revised edition of William Morris Textiles is the culmination of over thirty years of careful research and hands-on experience with the works of Morris & Co. in Parry’s former position of Deputy Keeper of the Department of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A. The resulting work is as detailed and as satisfying as one of Morris’s designs.

It goes without saying that a book devoted to Morris’s designs is beautiful, but it is also an incredibly useful resource. With biographies of the key personalities involved with Morris & Co., reproductions of Morris’s preparatory sketches and notes from his experiments with dyes, and a chronological catalogue, which notes where both samples of the textile and the original design are held, this book will be invaluable to collectors of Arts and Crafts textiles, to researchers and students of design history and even to artists and designers of today. I would recommend reading this book alongside Fiona MacCarthy’s magisterial biography to gain a rounded understanding of Morris’s full and varied life, but one can imagine him entirely approving of the work and detail that has gone into this indispensible volume.’

The full review can be found in the most recent (July/August 2013) edition of The Art Newspaper.

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