Summer events!

The exam period is now done and dusted! Well done to all of you who’ve been hard at work revising and holed up for hours in exam halls – I hope you’re savouring your freedom, enjoying the nice weather, and getting a little rest! As we come up to the end of the summer term, in a few weeks’ time, we’re moving into the period of independent work – for students, it’s the time for getting stuck into dissertations, research projects, and catching up with reading. Members of staff will also be turning to their own research in early July – getting out those half finished articles and blowing the dust off book manuscripts in progress – so do remember, if you need to get advice from your personal tutor, or to have a supervision ahead of the summer, then do make an appointment now to catch staff before they become embedded in studies, libraries and archives.

There are still lots of events to look out for before the end of the summer term..

*           the last Murray research seminar for this academic year will be taking place next Tuesday, 16th June, 6pm, in the Keynes Library. Michael Douglas Scott, one of our Associate Lecturers, will be talking about ‘The Censorship of Images in Sixteenth-Century Venice’.

*           the Architecture, Space and Society Centre’s summer term speaker will be Stefan Muthesius, coming to Birkbeck on Friday 26th June to give a paper entitled, ‘Tower Block Revisited: Aspects of British Public Housing Post-WWII’. This will be at 6pm in room B03 – do take a look at the ASSC’s website for more information about the event, and Professor Muthesius’s research.

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*           And, on Thursday 25th June, at 6pm, there’s a special opportunity to see an extraordinary film in the School of Arts. This is a piece called Abandoned Goods, a short essay film about the thousands of artworks created by patients who were detained in Netherne psychiatric hospital between 1946 and 1981. These were made in a pioneering studio at the hospital, run by the artist Edward Adamson. The film uses archive, reconstruction, interviews, observational footage and photography to explore the objects, the changing contexts in which they were made and displayed, and the lives of those who made them. Not to be missed. Do have a look online for further details, and to book a place.

Abandoned Goods invite

The screening of Abandoned Goods has been co-organised by Fiona Johnstone, who completed her PhD in History of Art at Birkbeck in April, supervised by Suzannah Biernoff. She then promptly added to this triumph by securing a six month postdoctoral fellowship, based in the department, funded by the Wellcome Institute. Dr. Johnstone (always nice to be able to use a recently awarded title!) is currently working on Adamson as a pioneer of art therapy, and she will be presenting a paper on this research at the Association for Medical Humanities annual conference in June.

However, this is only one of the many projects on which Fiona will be working during her ongoing time at Birkbeck. She will also be developing a monograph entitled Aids and the Art of Self-Representation, based on her doctoral research. This will look at expanded self-portraiture by HIV-positive artists working in the US between 1987 and 1996, looking at how AIDS had a significant and lasting influence on artists’ practices of self-representation. It will show how AIDS fundamentally changed the way in which the human body could be imagined and visualised, compelling critically ill artists to develop a new creative language with which to express the complex physical and emotional experiences of living with HIV and dying from causes related to AIDS. Alongside this, Fiona will also be working on a book she is currently co-editing with another Birkbeck PhD student, Kirstie Imber, to be published by I.B. Tauris. This is called Anti-Portraits, and developed out of a fascinating conference which the two of them organised at Birkbeck a couple of years ago.