Welcome to the new academic year in the History of Art department at Birkbeck College! For those of you who are new to this blog, I shall introduce myself. I’m Dr. Kate Retford, currently Head of History of Art, and I set up this blogsite around a year ago. I established it for students in the department, to let them know about the latest activities of staff and students, and to keep everyone up to date with the latest news and events. I write most of the postings, but I’m also very pleased to be able to put up pieces by other people. Last year, for example, Sarah McBryde, one of our MA History of Art students, told us about her experiences working as Production Manager on the Mike Leigh film, Mr Turner; Gary Haines, who is working on a PhD on the visual and cultural representation of the Blinded British Soldier of the First World War with Dr. Suzannah Biernoff, wrote a piece about Access, disability and Birkbeck; whilst Dr. Laura Jacobus shared her thoughts on the ups and downs of being on research leave. If you would like to write something for this blogsite over the academic year, then do email me. Contributions will be very welcome! I shall aim to do a posting every week for the first few weeks of the academic year, and then put something up fortnightly. Please do subscribe using the box on the right, as then each post will come direct to you via email. This is always a busy, but exciting time of year! It’s great to see those who’ve already been studying on our Certificate, Graduate Certificate, BA, MA and MPhil/PhD programmes again, returning after the vacation. I hope you’ve all had a good break over the summer, and are looking forward to the new year. And it’s very nice indeed to be welcoming all of our new students! Last night, we met with those starting on our MA programmes in History of Art and Museum Cultures – tomorrow, our Graduate Certificate students have their induction – we meet those embarking on MPhil/PhD research next Tuesday – and, the following day, I and my colleagues will be delighted to welcome our new BA History of Art and BA History of Art with Curating students at their first event. I do hope you all settle in well over the next few weeks, and that you enjoy your first experiences of studying with us, and getting to know your new colleagues as well as members of the academic and administrative teams. I’m always proud to be able to tell students what a friendly and caring place the department and School are, and you’ll find there’s lots of support around, as you get to grips with your new programme of study. It’s always a challenge, whether you’ve just completed a previous qualification and are moving up a level, or whether you’re returning to study after a period away from education. We are very much here to help. With my next blog, I’ll tell you more about recent events and activities in and around Birkbeck – including Open House weekend, when over 500 visitors came through the doors at Gordon Square to be shown round by a dedicated team of our students – but I want to let you know about a couple of exhibitions before I sign off today.
* One is very close to hand – in the Peltz Gallery in the School of Arts. Passing Encounters: Recent Photographs by Christopher Jonas has just opened, and will be running until 17th October. Do take a look, on your way in or out of the building – you’ll find the gallery just behind the reception desk.
* In my final blog of last year, I wrote about an exhibition on which Professor Lynn Nead has been working. I’m delighted to say that The Fallen Woman opens today, and can be seen at the Foundling Museum until 3rd January 2016. It includes a rich range of work by artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Richard Redgrave, George Frederic Watts and Thomas Faed, alongside popular visual media, including newspaper illustrations, stereoscopes and lantern slides. I’m particularly looking forward to a sound installation by the artist/musician Steve Lewinson, especially commissioned for the exhibition, which offers a new interpretation of the Foundling’s archive materials, and brings to life the voices of those women who had to apply to the hospital to take in their babies. I’m also delighted to say that Birkbeck students can get half-price entry if they show their student card at the ticket desk at the Museum – not to mention a 30% discount in their very nice café!.