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IASH Twitter Takeover – Favourite Collages #4 – Plas Newydd’s Windows

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My final ‘favourite collage’ that I’m going to share for my IASH twitter takeover are these windows, located in the Library at Plas Newydd, North Wales. Home to the so-called ‘Ladies of Llangollen’, Eleanor Bulter and Sarah Ponsonby, from around 1788 until 1831, Plas Newydd was (and still is) adorned with a rich collection of objects, many of them given to the women by their close friends, and subsequently integrated into the very fabric of their home.

This process of acquisition and integration is exemplified by the construction of the stained-glass windows of the house’s library. Employing glass variously found at Valle Crucis, a nearby ruined abbey; purchased from the Birmingham glass maker and painter, Francis Eginton; and donated by the women’s friends; the windows form an intoxicating bricolage of brightly coloured and fragmented glass, encompassing representations of biblical scenes, heraldry, foliate designs, abstract patterns, and block colour.

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This included a casement of glass from their friend Mr Owen, who had recently removed the stained glass of his home, Brogyntyn Hall. While this gift has an obvious antiquarian significance, its relocation into the space of Plas Newydd built on this genealogical function to reinforce the relationship between donor and recipient. Made from numerous gifted fragments, the house’s stained glass windows function as a tribute to the thriving gift culture in which Butler and Ponsonby and their friends were implicated. At the same time, by combining these with a diverse array of collected, found and acquired, pieces of glass, they also demonstrate the connectedness between the women, their acquaintances, and their locale.

I talk more about gift culture of Plas Newydd in my book, Home Ties: Materiality, Sociability, and Emotion in British Domestic Space, 1750-1840, which is currently under review at Bloomsbury (and hopefully I’ll be able to post an update about this very soon!!). I’ve so enjoyed being able to share some of the key collages for my postdoctoral research project with you on the IASH twitter page this week, so I think I’ll make this a regular series on the blog as the project develops.

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IASH Twitter Takeover – Favourite Collages #3 – The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt

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The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, often abbreviated to AIDS Memorial Quilt, is the largest piece of folk art in the world, and is dedicated to the lives of people who have died from AIDS-related causes. The above image shows just a tiny portion of this amazing object, which weighs around 54 tonnes, and is continuously being updated and added to. You can read more about the quilt here: http://www.aidsquilt.org/

Each of the quilt’s panels is roughly the size of an average grave – a specific choice meant to evoke the fact that those who died from AIDS often didn’t receive funerals due to the social stigma surrounding the condition. Using the traditional association between quilts and familial or social relationships, the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt employs the quilted form as a highly evocative emotional gesture. At once massive in scale – as the below image of the Quilt powerfully demonstrates – and characterised by tiny, intricate detail, the Quilt presents this relationship on two levels. Firstly, its massiveness highlights the sheer and unbelievable scale of the condition, an immediate, arresting, and heartbreaking sight. Secondly, the highly personal nature of the individual panels – often made by grieving friends and family – highlights the devastating impact of AIDS on an individual level.

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Collage – particularly these kinds of ‘folk’ our ‘outsider’ manifestations – lies outside of ‘high art’ as it is traditionally understood. However, objects like the Quilt demonstrate its potential to disrupt not only aesthetic narratives, but social ones, bringing crucial issues and minority identities to the forefront of art historical conversation.

Week in Review – 23 July

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My object of the week is this INCREDIBLE Album of Seaweed Pictures from 1848, now held at the Brooklyn Museum. The album was made as a gift for Augustus Graham, a member of the first board of directors of the Brooklyn Apprentice’s Library, later to become the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and the Brooklyn Museum.

I was really sorry to miss the Beyond Between Men symposium, so I hugely enjoyed reading Rachel E. Moss’s round-up blog post about the event. You can read it here.

The BAVS Talks 2017 videos are now all up online. You can take a look here.

CFP: CAA 2018 – Imperial Islands: Vision and Experience in the American Empire after 1898

Although the CFP deadline for the Home Comforts: The physical and emotional meanings of home in Europe, 1650-1900 conference has now passed, I still wanted to bring attention to this fascinating-sounding conference, which intersects interestingly with my current book project.

The edited volume Feminism and Art History Now: Radical Critiques of Theory and Practice, is out now from I B Tauris, and will be an essential resource for anyone using feminist theory in their art historical writing.

NOTCHES is seeking contributions for an upcoming and continuing series on transgender histories. See the CFP for full details, deadline September 15, 2017.

Issue 6 (Summer 2017) of British Art Studies is now live. The special issue focuses on Invention and Imagination in British Art and Architecture, 600–1500, and examines lots of fascinating objects at length and in depth.

Other conferences, CFPs, etc that caught my eye this week included:

  • CONF: Re/presenting the Body (Glasgow, 6-7 Jul 17)
  • CFP: Jewellery Matters (Amsterdam, 16-17 Nov 17)
  • CONF: Film|Bild|Emotion (Regensburg, 20-21 Jul 18)
  • CFP: Collecting Medieval Sculpture (Paris, 23-24 Nov 17)
  • CONF: Nineteenth-Century Art in Islamic Countries (Vienna, 6-9
    Jul 17)
  • CFP: Temporary and Mobile Domesticities, 1600 to the present – 10.10.2017, London
  • CFC: Special Issue of The History of the Family
  • CFP: Issue: Material and Visual Cultures of Religion in the American South

Absent Presences at Strawberry Hill – thoughts from the Lewis Walpole Library

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It’s the first day of my two-week research visit to the Lewis Walpole Library, and I’ve just finished looking through the anonymous volume Rarities from Strawberry Hill, made sometime around the 1890s. The volume (essentially a scrapbook) once brought together letters from Walpole’s voluminous correspondence, printed portraits, clippings, playbills, bookplates (including the above example, Anne Damer’s, based on a design by her close friend Agnes Berry) a lock of hair, and even two miniature portraits, who are conspicuous in their absence from the volume, leaving two holes where they were once fitted (pictured below). Along with a number of other objects from the book – including various letters and the aforementioned lock of hair – the miniatures have been removed and preserved elsewhere: in the case of miniatures, these are now on display at Strawberry Hill itself, where they now tell a different narrative in a different setting.

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This dialogue of absence and presence, and how these states intersect with how we construct the history of the eighteenth century, reminded me of an earlier post I made here, regarding Strawberry Hill itself. When visiting the house last Summer, I bemoaned the absence of any kind of narrative regarding Walpole’s queerness, despite the prevalence of this within scholarship on Walpole and his friendships. I hope that the chapter I’m researching here (on Anne Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill and queer heirlooming) at the Lewis Walpole Library can meaningfully contribute to these conversations, revealing some of those things that are sorely absent from the scholarship on Walpole.

Week in Review – 19 March

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33005859916_69ac826dc4_b.jpgRobert Dighton, The Macaroni Painter, or Billy Dimple sitting for his Picture, 1772. British Museum, London.

First up, Dominic Janes’ post, ‘A Queer Taste for Macaroni‘, on the Public Domain Review. I recently had an article accepted for a special issue of Aphra Behn Online: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830 that explores the concept of “camp” with regards to eighteenth-century studies. My article will locate macaronism within a visual and ironic rhetoric of campness, and Janes’ new book Oscar Wilde Prefigured: Queer Fashioning and British Caricature, 1750-1900 is an essential resource for this work. 

Secondly, I was hugely excited to read about the National Gallery of Victoria’s upcoming exhibition Love: Art of Emotion 1400–1800, which draws upon the NGV’s diverse permanent collection to explore the theme of love in art, and the changing representations of this complex emotion throughout the early modern period in Europe.

I also enjoyed reading this review of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge’s exhibition Madonnas and Miracles: The Holy Home in Renaissance Italy, which the role of domestic objects in sustaining and inspiring faith.

I was also intrigued to read: this post from Notches Blog on ‘Porno Chic and the Sex Wars: A Roundtable on the Politics of Sexual Representations in the 1970s‘; and this fascinating article on the spiritualist artist Hima af Klint.

I’ve got several multi-media picks this week: first, this episode of The Why Factor on using our hands; this episode of the Art Detective Podcast on Tipu’s Tiger – with Sona Datta; and finally, this video of Mary Beard’s lecture, Women in Power.

The following CFPs and conferences also caught my attention this week:

CFP: Fashion, Dress, and Post-Postmodernism (September 20, 2017)

CFP: Vistas. 19th Century Studies (Philadelphia, 15-17 Mar 18)

CONF: Rejection & Recovery in the History of Art & Architecture (Boston, 24-25 Mar 17)

CFP: Early Netherlandish Art in the Long 19th Century (Ghent, 24 – 26 May 18)

CFP: Art of Power: The 3rd Earl of Bute, Politics and Collecting in Enlightenment Britain (2nd Oct 2017 – 4th Oct 2017)

WORKSHOP: Approaching Inner Lives: Thinking, Feeling, Believing, 1300-1900 (Tuesday 28 March 2017)

Week in Review – 26 February

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Victorian hand calling card, private collection.

A slightly belated Week in Review post.

As I’ve noted before, Notches and the Age of Revolutions blogs are amongst my favourite academic blogs, and both present really interesting work in their respective fields. Of late, I particularly enjoyed Notches’ ‘Femme Histories Roundtable‘ series (parts I and II), as well as this amazing post on ‘Disembodied Desire‘, focusing on disembodied Victorian limbs, as seen in the above calling card.

In case you missed me excitedly sharing this on Twitter and Facebook, here’s a Hyperallergic article on Sotheby’s first-ever auction of erotic artworks. I was particularly enamoured with this incredible painted plywood table, a copy after those supposedly held in a secret erotic salon of Catherine the Great. For this and many other fascinating objects check out the auction catalogue.

I hugely enjoyed this article on the history of the colour red from The Paris Review, and was fascinated by this touching article on the epistolary correspondence of two men during the Second World War.

I was keen to watch this webinar on ‘Exploring the Africana Historic Postcard Collection‘, which discusses the African Section of the Library of Congress’ African and Middle Eastern Division’s collection of more than 2000 historical photographic postcards. The collection is an important visual record of Africa and its people during the historically intensive years of European colonialism from 1895 to 1960.

I also really enjoyed Pat Thomson’s thought-provoking post on developing institutional writing cultures. Thomson writes compellingly about the need for rebuilding such collective practices, which is something that strongly rings true for me as a participant in an academic writing group. Thomson’s post was written a few days before my fellow writing-group attendee Lucie Whitmore wrote a post on our writing group for the SGSAH Blog, and they had a lovely synchronicity in my mind. I’m also going to write an update post on my own progress with the writing group at some point soon, so watch this space.

Publications wise, the table of contents for the first issue of the Journal for Art Market Studies (Vol 1, No 1 (2017)), also caught my attention this week, as did this call for book proposals on Gender and Culture in the Romantic EraI was also really excited to see that Joanna Cohen’s book Luxurious Citizens: The Politics of Consumption in Nineteenth-Century America has now been published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. I’m sure this book will become an essential text for me as I expand my research to look at nineteenth-century American material culture.

 The following CFPs and conferences also caught my eye:

CFP: Consuming Gender, Assuming Gender one-day symposium (14 July 2017, Cardiff University)

CFP: Decor and Architecture (Lausanne, 16-17 Nov 17)

CFPFrench and English Rivalries in Dress and Textiles 1700-1914 (Paris, October 13-14, 2017)

CFP: “Emotions, Death and Dying” -PJHS (Winter 2017)

CFP: Queering the Transpacific: Asian American, American and Asian Queer Studies (March 31, 2017)

Finally, I noted with interest that there a number of vacancies on the Design History Society’s Board of Trustees, applications are due by mid-March.

Week in Review – 19 February

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John Richard Coke Smyth, Elizabeth, Lady Eastlake. Watercolour
4 3/4 in. x 4 1/4 in. (121 mm x 108 mm), National Portrait Gallery, London.

First up, the conference programme for the Writing Art: Women Writers as Art Critics in the Long Eighteenth Century conference. The conference intersects with a number of my projects, firstly an article I’m currently writing on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women travel writers and the narratives they tell through objects, and secondly, #WaysofSheing, a twitter-based project that aims to highlight and celebrate the contributions of female art historians. The conference features presentations on Elizabeth, Lady Eastlake (pictured above), Germaine de Staël, and the travel writer Maria Graham.

I enjoyed Sarah Read’s article ‘‘Gushing Out Blood’: Defloration and Menstruation in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure‘, from a recent edition of the Journal of Medical Humanities.  In the article Read explores how Cleland ‘repeatedly depicts and eroticises the act of defloration’ in his erotic 1740s novel Fanny Hill. 

Deborah Cohen’s The Atlantic article ‘Before Straight and Gay: The discreet, disorienting passions of the Victorian era‘, which begins with a microcosmic examination of the queer histories of the Benson family, is a fascinating read.

I was fascinated by this BBC News video, on the forgotten Victorian botanical painter Marianne North.

I also really enjoyed this revealing interview with April Haynes, author of Riotous Flesh: Women, Physiology, and the Solitary Vice in Nineteenth-Century America in a recent post on the Notches blog.

As ever, the Public Domain Review has been a wonderful source of articles and objects. I particularly enjoyed this recent essay by Yvonne Seale on nineteenth-century genealogy.

The following CFPs and conferences also caught my attention:

CONF: Women, Authorship, and Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century: New Methodologies (June 17, 2017)

CFP: Anonymity Unmasked: Identity, Agency, Responsibility (September 13-15, 2017)

CFP: Death and the Maiden (July 21-24, 2017)

CFP: Romanticism and Popular Culture (November 3-5, 2017)