Ah Venice (part 2)

Francis Sydney Unwin, St Mark’s, Venice, etching, 1911. British Museum.

And the destination for our next departmental field trip is, you guessed it, Venice! We are delighted to have two young scholars of Italian art, Zuleika Murat and Sarah Ferrari, acting as the guides. The trip, which is scheduled for 8-12 April 2019, will be an in depth experience of the city, its streets, canals, architecture, religious and daily life, and of course its art collections, with a day trip to Padua to see Giotto’s famous frescos in the Arena chapel. You will hear more soon from the admin team about how to sign up.

Sooner than Venice, tomorrow night in fact, is the latest in the talks organised by the Architecture Space and Society Centre. Neil Shashore, of Liverpool University, will be giving the paper ‘Civic Centre: Architecture, Civic Design, and the Municipal Project in Interwar Norwich’. He’ll be talking about the emergence of the idea of a ‘Civic centre’ connoting deliberately planned and grouped buildings and spaces for public administration and assembly, while expressing civic identity and ceremony in a self-consciously democratic age.

Next week is the next in the excellent and informative series of events exploring your options for employment after you have completed your degree. Are you wondering what kind of work you can do with a degree in Arts? If so, come to our employability event on 11 December 2018. The focus of the event will be on finding employment for those with an Undergraduate degree in English. It will feature Sam Zdzieblo coming from the company Joe Public , talking about his work experience and transition from study to work. All Arts students are welcome to attend.

Find out more and to book your place for the 11 December session here.

And do catch the fascinating and playful exhibition Circus Life, on in the Peltz Gallery, before it closes on Wednesday 12 December. This new exhibition celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of circus and investigates circus’ continuing appeal as a subject for visual artists through the eyes of recent and contemporary British practitioners.

Our academics have been busy with papers, publications and prizes:

Kasia Murawska-Muthesius took part in two conferences in late November: one was organised by ICOM (International Council of Museums), entitled Museum Dimension: What Makes a Curator?, held at the National Museum in Budapest, on 19-20 November. She spoke about the origins and the aftermath of the Critical Museum project she was involved at the National Museum in Warsaw (2009-2010). The other conference was in Prague, with the great title ‘The New Dictionary of Old Ideas’, organised by a centre for contemporary art MeetFactory, where she participated in debates about responsibilities of contemporary art and cultures with her talk on maps: ‘Mapmaking as Imagemaking: The Case of East Central Europe.’

Kate Retford (whom you’ll remember as previous HoD and author of this blog) has had her recent book The Conversation Piece: Making Modern Art in Eighteenth-Century Britain shortlisted for the Apollo Book of the Year award 2018. The Conversation Piece was published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press. It looks at the emergence of a new type of small group portrait in eighteenth-century Britain, in which diminutive sitters, engaged in activities like taking tea or playing cards, are seen seated in polite interiors, or enjoying their landscape gardens. The book examines the reasons for the development of this innovative art form, unpicks the resonances of that evocative word ‘conversation’, analyses the nature and function of those carefully described settings, and explores the full range of relationships encompassed in these groups.

Kate has been on research leave for a year and a half, since stepping down as Head of Department, but will be back in January, and looking forward to taking over as MA History of Art programme director, and teaching her MA Option on eighteenth-century portraiture. Which will include a class on the conversation piece of course!

(p.s. She’s now Professor Kate Retford – congrats, Kate!)

Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra has had an article published in latest issues of the key American publication Art Journal. “Beyond Evil: Politics, Ethics and Religion in León Ferrari’s Illustrated Nunca Más, looks at the Argentine artist’s controversial series of collages Nunca Más (Never Again, 1995-96), named after the 1984 human rights report by the Argentine National Commission on the Disappeared. She argues that this series provides a visual rereading of the first extensive investigation of human rights violations during Argentina’s last military dictatorship, foregrounding the conjunction of repressive power and appeal to morality that characterized this regime.

I’ll end with a striking hybrid historical-contemporary image from Mara’s article – and I’ll be back with one more blog before the break.

León Ferrari, “The Inferno” by P. de Limbourg + Jorge Videla and Cardinal Aramburu, from the series Nunca más, 1995-96. Digital print on paper. Fundación Augusto y León Ferrari Archivo y Colección, Buenos Aires

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