Welcome to the new academic year!

I’m Dr Kate Retford, the current Head of History of Art at Birkbeck College, and this is my new blogsite. I’ve set it up principally for students within the department, whether working towards a Certificate, BA, MA or an MPhil/PhD degree. Over the course of this academic year, I will be posting up news, events and features about life in the department, keeping you up to date with all the latest activities of staff and students.

46 Gordon Square, Londres, Royaume-Uni

The History of Art department, and the School of Arts more broadly, is a dynamic environment: members of staff give papers, publish articles and books, and work with galleries, museum and the media. There are many talks, seminars and conferences to go to, and exhibitions hosted in the Peltz gallery at Gordon Square to view. We also have the highlight of the School of Arts year – Arts Week, held every May, when we showcase the wide range of our activities.

There are various places where you can find out about all this activity, and I do encourage you to follow tweets from the History of Art department: @BirkbeckHoA, and the School of Arts: @birkbeck_arts. Here, I will bring together some of the highlights, but I’m also hoping to give you more news about our students and programmes, and to include features, such as profiles of individuals within the department. If you’ve been involved in something you think may be of interest to your fellow students, or if you would simply like to write a piece explaining how you came to be studying History of Art at Birkbeck, please do get in touch with me, as there will be guest slots available!

In this first posting, I also want to repeat the welcome I’ve been giving at various induction evenings over the last couple of weeks, to all the new students who’ve just joined the department on our various programmes. This is always an exciting time of year, when new faces join more familiar ones. I hope you all settle in well over the next few weeks, and enjoy your first classes – or, in the case of research students, your first meetings with your supervisors. It is an exciting time – but it is also a challenging one, as you settle into study – perhaps after a period away from education – probably moving up a level from qualifications taken before. You will find that the History of Art department is a friendly and supportive environment, and I do urge you to keep in contact with your course directors, your supervisors, your Personal Tutors, and let us know of any difficulties you experience. We are very much here to help.

A final comment on our revamped building in Gordon Square. Contractors have been working hard over the summer, restoring brickwork and painting, scaling scaffolding – and frequently abseiling past the window of my office on the fourth floor. A startling sight! The last of the scaffolding has just been removed, revealing the restored façade of our Georgian townhouses in all their glory. We are very proud of our beautiful accommodation, as well as its history: sometime home to Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf and the celebrated economist, John Maynard Keynes. Find out more in my next blog…