Banksy, Port Talbot, and Venice

You may remember over Christmas that the street art trickster Banksy was in the news again when a new piece appeared on a garage wall in the steel town of Port Talbot in Wales, putting that community in the art world spotlight. As it happens, one of our current MA students, Amanda Roderick, knows Port Talbot, and the Welsh contemporary art scene, well. Amanda splits her time between Port Talbot and London, and is currently on a sabbatical away from her role as Director & Curator of Mission Gallery, a publicly funded contemporary art gallery based in Swansea. I thought she’d be perfectly positioned to comment on the appearance of the Banksy and its current and potential future impact on her home town. Turns out the garage wall in question is on the street she grew up in! Take a moment to read her reflections on the Birkbeck Comments blog on Banksy, Port Talbot, funding for the arts, and ownership in the public realm.

We’re delighted to announce the results of the selection process for this year’s Venice Fellowships. Patricia Yaker Ekall (BA History of Art) and Corinna Henderson (MA History of Art) have been selected to represent Birkbeck on the scheme. Birkbeck School of Arts partners with the British Council to offer these fellowships every year as part of the Venice Biennale (or, in alternate years, the Architecture Biennale); Venice fellows spend a month in Venice, conducting independent research and mediating the exhibition in the British Pavilion. This year, the British Council has commissioned the artist Cathy Wilkes to represent Britain; the exhibition will be curated by Dr Zoe Whitley. You can read more about the new fellows, the scheme, and Cathy Wilkes here.

Exterior of the British Pavilion on the occasion of Sarah Lucas’s exhibition, I SCREAM DADDIO, at the British Pavilion, 2015. © Cristiano Corte.

As announced in previous blogs, there’s a lecture in the Murray seminar series this evening: Sandy Heslop (University of East Anglia) will be speaking on the questions surrounding a medieval manuscript: ‘The Tiberius Psalter: a book for Archbishop Stigand?’, today, 18 March 5pm in Keynes Library.

And Jennifer Tucker, Associate Professor of History and Science in Society at Wesleyan University (USA), is giving two talks next week on aspects of her work on the visual culture and museology of firearms. The Centre for Museum Cultures hosts her on 25 March 6pm in Keynes, when she’ll speak alongside Jonathan Ferguson (Keeper of Firearms & Artillery, Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds) on‘Curating Firearms in Museums in the 21st Century’. Then on 26 March 6pm she’ll be back in Keynes giving a talk organised by the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre entitled ‘Load, Point and Shoot:  Cameras, Gun Cartridges, and the “Black Boxes” of History’.

All welcome to both of these events!

Finally, for BA finalists and Graduate Certificate students, as the term comes to an end, you may be thinking about what next. We have an expanding range of postgraduate programmes in the department, in History of Art, History of Architecture, History of Photography and Museum Cultures. You can study for MAs, Postgraduate Certificates and Postgraduate Diplomas in all these areas. And there’s funding available – including the Wallace Studentships, which are specifically for MA students in our department. Funding deadline is 31 May.

Please contact Patrizia Di Bello, admissions tutor, with any queries about the application process (or, from the beginning of next term, Dorigen Caldwell.);