Read on to find out about an exciting new development in the History of Art department…

Only a fortnight to go until the end of term – marked by the fact that it’s now getting dark even before the corridors, offices and teaching rooms become filled with students arriving to see tutors, and for the start of classes at 6pm! Even though we’re now so close to the start of the Christmas vacation, there are still plenty of exciting events coming up. This evening, Friday 27th November, at 6pm, the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre is hosting the next event in its rich programme. In room 112 in Gordon Square, Thomas Galifot from the Musèe d’Orsay will be speaking ‘About (Some) Women Photographers 1839-1919’. Dr. Patrizia di Bello, Senior Lecturer in the History and Theory of Photography, who leads the Centre along with Professor Lynn Nead, has been circulating information about this paper with a beautiful detail from a Julia Margaret Cameron photograph of Mrs Herbert Duckworth, from 1867, which I can’t resist including below (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France). Do also follow this link to find out more details about the exhibition at the Musée de l’Orangerie, to which the talk relates.

Cameron photo

In the last week before the Christmas break, the Murray seminar on Medieval and Renaissance Art will host its last speaker of the Autumn term: Dr. Juliana Barone, an Associate Research Fellow in the School of Arts, here at Birkbeck. Dr. Barone is an internationally acclaimed Leonardo scholar, and is currently organising a major conference on ‘Leonardo in Britain: Collections and Reception’, which will take place from 25th to 27th May 2016. I’ll keep you posted with details of this event – the result of an exciting collaboration between Birkbeck, the National Gallery, and the Warburg Institute. For the Murray seminar, on Thursday 10th December (5pm, room 112), Dr. Barone will be speaking about ‘Leonardo, Poussin and Errard: new ideals in the edition princeps of the Treatise on Painting’.

Juliana Barone pic

I will now hand over the rest of this blog to Jess Stratford, who joined us on the BA History of Art with Curating in October. Jess and her co-students – Camila Florez and Selina McKay – have been working hard over the last few weeks to get the Birkbeck Art History Society (BAHS) up and running again. This is wonderful news! The London Art History Society, affiliated to the Birkbeck Art History Society, has been providing a rich array of events for many years. Sue Stern, from the LAHS, was at our induction evenings in October to tell all our new students about their activities – do take a look at their website to find out details. The department’s student society has, however, been dormant of late, and it’s wonderful to see a group of energetic new students bringing it back to life! Do read on -and I particularly draw your attention to the gathering at the Student Central Juice Bar on Saturday, 28th November…

The Birkbeck Art History Society (BAHS), by Jess Stratford

“I would like to announce the reinstitution of the Birkbeck Art History Society (BAHS)!

The response to the Departmental email, which was sent round last week, has been fantastic – quite overwhelming.  Your enthusiasm makes our job so much easier.  Birkbeck Art History Society offers so many opportunities and member input will inform our direction.  But right now, I want to tell you about our immediate plans.

The first meeting/organised visit of the Society took place on Thursday 26th November. A large group of us went to a lecture at the British Museum on Early Medieval Celtic Art. We will be sharing our experiences with you on the Society’s Facebook page and Twitter feed (see below for links).

So, what are we?

The Birkbeck Art History Society is a multi-platform community for people to further their understanding and appreciation of the History of Art. We will provide a forum (both physical and online) for members to discuss their interests in Art History. We will do this through planned discussions, talks, trips and other forms of events that might pop up (we are finding a way to have cinema evenings as well!). We are also in the process of creating a website and, once that is live, there will also be a discussion forum open only to members.

The Society will organise at least one trip a month (for which there has been a lot of interest) and a talk/ lead discussion/meeting, also once a month. We will try to cover as many areas as possible, and keep the subject matter varied. We are aware of the nature of Birkbeck students’ lifestyles and will try to organise events at times suitable to those in full time employment – evenings and weekends where feasible.

As well as these events, members will have access to our website (coming soon), which will offer a calendar of arts events and exhibitions throughout London. We are compiling an online directory of London based arts institutions, and their events, so you can keep up with the wider arts world and take from it what you will.

We will be running a blog with stories about galleries from outside London, from places ranging from Yorkshire to Colombia. Birkbeck is an international university: why not take advantage of our wide experience? If you have a gallery you are passionate about, we would love to include your post.

In the meantime here are our upcoming events:

  • Saturday 28th November: we will be at the Student Central Juice Bar to answer any questions and take subscriptions (membership is £12 a year). The Juice Bar is on the first floor, to the right. There will be signs.
  • Saturday 9th January: there will be a trip to the Institute of Contemporary Art, to the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015 -an exhibition of work by 37 of the most promising art emerging talents from UK art schools. This year the themes are: gender, labour, value and consumption. Details of the trip will follow.

Information about future events will be available on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BirkbeckAHS/

Follow us on Twitter: @BirkbeckAHS

You can also sign up to our mailing list: send an email with your name and email address to jstrat01@mail.bbk.ac.uk, saying that you would like to be put on the mailing list.

Hope to see you soon! BAHS”

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New Graduates – and lots of events!

I hope everyone had a good reading week, and was able to take the opportunity of a little time away from classes to catch up with themselves! On the Wednesday of that week, we enjoyed celebrating the successes of our BA graduates, who completed their studies in the summer, and who came back to Bloomsbury to don gowns and hats and receive their degrees! It was lovely to meet with them, their families and friends, and to reflect on their achievements. Here are some rather fuzzy snaps taken on my phone – if anyone has some better images, do email them to me, and I’ll put them on another blog!

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We talked about happy moments – when one student discovered she’d received a distinction on her dissertation – when we’d been able to inform two finalists that the BA exam board had awarded them prizes for their dissertations! Sue Prior received the Annabelle Rickets award for a BA dissertation on art or architecture before c.1800, whilst Sarah Thacker was given the Mo Price award for a BA dissertation on visual culture after c.1800. We also reflected on those more difficult times – the hurdles that so many students on our programmes have to face at some point or other, trying to juggle studies with family life and work. Many of the graduates in that hall last week were rightly feeling very proud indeed of having made it through tricky patches in the last three or four years of their lives – and we were feeling very proud on their behalfs! This is a good moment to remind all students on our taught programmes that it’s so important to keep your personal tutor abreast of any difficulties you’re experiencing, and to make appointments to talk through options if you’re ever struggling. You can now double check who your personal tutor is on your student record.

We have a cornucopia of events coming up! Here’s a selection of what members of staff are up to and have organised in the next few weeks.

*           The next paper in the Murray seminar on Medieval and Renaissance Art is coming up at 5pm on Thursday 19th November (room 112, Gordon Square). This seminar series began last year, and has been going from strength to strength, attracting academics and postgraduate students from other institutions in London and beyond, as well as our own community. Dr. Laura Jacobus will be looking at five generations of women who worshipped in the Arena Chapel in Padua, asking what insights we can gain when we place them at the centre of our enquiry. She’s come up with the engaging title of Four Weddings and a Funerary Chapel: a brief ‘herstory’ of the Arena Chapel.

Laura's pic

*           Dr. Dorigen Caldwell co-organises the Birkbeck/UCL Rome lecture series, and has alerted me to the next event coming up in their programme. On Friday 27th November, at 6pm, Dr. Helen Langdon will be giving a talk entitled ‘Salvator Rosa: Magic and Science in 1660s Rome’. Dr. Langdon’s work on art in early modern Rome includes her influential book, Caravaggio: a Life (1998). Her lecture will be looking at Rosa’s late paintings, and setting them in the context of the scientific world in Rome of the 1660s. It will take place in room 101 in 30 Russell Square, and is free – but do book your place.

Rome Lecture 27 November

*           A new exhibition, Positive Living: Art and AIDS in South Africa, opens in the Peltz Gallery in the School of Arts building today. It’s curated by Annie Coombes, our Professor of Material and Visual Culture, and she’s been busy installing it over the last few days. It’ll be running until 22nd January, and is not to be missed. Annie’s exhibition focuses on the struggle for self-representation by those affected by the virus during the worst period of AIDS denialism under former President Thabo Mbeki from 1999 to 2003. It explores the way fine art and the process of print-making, painting and other creative practices produced effective therapeutic treatments for HIV/AIDS sufferers and enabled proactive memory work to be performed as a legacy for bereaved families and children. As well as the display itself, there is also a rich programme of events – including a conference on 7th December entitled Women and HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Medicine, Art, Activism. Do take a look at the website to find out full details of everything going on.

*           Other colleagues are also, as ever, giving seminar and conference papers, lectures, and taking part in panel discussions. One coming up soon is Dr. Gabriel Koureas’s lecture entitled ‘Male Body Terrors’, being given at Senate House Library on at 1pm on Tuesday 17th November, to coincide with the exhibition ‘Illumination—How the Visual Captures the Imagination’. The heroic male body and associated ideals of masculinity have been challenged in recent years by the body of the male terrorist. However, Gabriel will be arguing that this recent phenomenon of male body terror can be found in other instances. One example he’ll be discussing is Robert Maplethorpe’s photographic work and his depiction of gay male sexual encounters, which provided a challenge at the time to perceived ideas of masculinity. His talk will attempt to juxtapose the male body of the terrorist and gay man in order to discuss transgressions of masculinities. For full details and to book a place, please follow this link.

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