The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's The Arts! (The missing panel from NHL)

I wasn't insta-blogging this like Jen W was, so you'll have to rely on my notes and recollections for a reconstruction. (Appropriate, for an event hosted by historians!) My apologies to the speakers if I have misunderstood or miscommunicated your intentions!

Conny Bailey - German religious sculpture
Conny, a PhD student at Leicester, began by showing us a photo of a carved wooden altarpiece signed by a mysterious Northern German master, now in a museum in the town where it was produced. No other signed pieces by this artist exist, and it is in fact even questionable whether a town of the size this Westfalian settlement was could even have supported an artist of such quality. Conny made the valuable (and transferrable) point that that attributions to this artist have been based on shaky assumptions: the loss of provenance through war and indiscriminate collecting has meant that style is used to attribute pieces to masters, though it is disagreed how many people worked in any workshop. Additionally, it is frequently assumed that pieces were produced where they are now museumified, an obviously flawed logic, which leads to attributions of pieces to mutliple artists, as well as something Conny calls a "pseudogeography" of artistic production. She is working on reconciling extant pieces with descriptions, tax rolls, wills, and museum records - an ambitious task with which we wish her much success.

Julie Crimshaw - Do you see the trees? Articulating the role of the artist.
Julie gave an adorably animated overview of her planned research into public art and community sustainability, which she is carrying out at the University of Manchester. Often used as a stimulus for cultural regeneration, the actual funciton of public art and the role of the artist in this kind of discourse remains vague and difficult to quantify for the kind of "results" the government is so keen to receive after major investment. Her project, which will be guided by interviews with artists as case studies, hopes to articulate the artistic process and intention involved in this, which will have implications for further policy and practice.

Dhan Zunino Singh - The use of visual sources for a cultural history of the underground railway in Buenos Aires, 1886-1945.
Based at the IHR, Dhan gave a very convincing argument that traced tropes of modernism, nationalism, entrepreneurialism, and historicism through the visual materials surrounding the construction of the BA subway. He used photographs, architectural plans and models, advertising, and public art murals both as documentary evidence, but also as a narative that shaped the experience and understanding of this major metropolitan works.

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