Eoin Martin, University of Warwick
Having completed a BA degree at Trinity College Dublin, and a Masters degree in Irish Art History at the Trinity Irish Art Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin, I am now a PhD candidate with the University of Warwick. My PhD looks at ‘Victoria, Albert and Sculpture.’ It analyses the place and role of sculpture within Queen Victoria’s and Prince Albert’s homes, and considers the ways in which their sculpture collection became part of their public personas and thus contributed towards the growing prominence of sculpture in mid-Victorian Britain. My research is part of a collaborative project between the Universities of York and Warwick in the U.K. and the Yale Center for British Art in the U.S. that looks at the place, function and meaning of sculpture in public and private spaces in Victorian Britain. The project is working towards the first major synoptic exhibition of Victorian sculpture, to be staged in Yale in 2014 and London in 2015. My interest in grief, mourning and materiality in the Victorian period arose because of the considerable number of memorial works Queen Victoria commissioned after Prince Albert’s death, ranging from books, musical compositions and paintings, to photographs and pieces of sculpture. Focusing specifically on sculpture, I am interested in the ways in which memorial sculpture functioned in public and private spaces.
Claire Wood, University of York
Having recently submitted my thesis, ‘A Profitable Undertaking: Death Commodification in the works of Charles Dickens’, I come to the conference with a strong interest in the material culture of death. A fascination with the idea that death can be commodified permeates Dickens’s writing, from the satirical episodes involving undertakers, sextons and sick nurses, to the more vexed questioning of his own position as an author who routinely used deathbed scenes to hook his serial readers. More recently I was involved in the Sensory Stories public engagement project, which trained researchers to communicate their work to a wider audience using taste, touch, smell, sound, object-interaction and performance. This has helped me to discover the hidden stories that things can tell, which become particularly loaded when the objects are associated with death. For me this conference offers a chance to explore many of the questions that captivated me during my doctorate: what are the materials of mourning and what did they mean to those that possessed them? does it matter if they were commercially-produced or homemade? do relics have to be authentic to mean something? are monetary and sentimental value always opposed?
Marcia Pointon, Professor Emeritus at the University of Manchester and Hon. Research Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art
Marcia Pointon’s most recent books are: Brilliant Effects: A Cultural History of Gem Stones and Jewellery (YUP 2009), Strategies for Showing: Women, Possession and Representation in English Visual Culture 1665-1800 (OUP 1997) and Hanging the Head: Portraiture and Social Formation in Eighteenth-Century England (YUP 1993). She became interested in artifacts associated with death when teaching an MA at Manchester on ‘Death and the Afterlife’ in visual culture and undertook research leading to publications on hair mourning jewellery. Her next book Portrayal: History, Identity, Materiality will be published by Reaktion Books in 2012 and includes a chapter entitled ‘the Skull in the Studio’.
Sarah Bissell, University of Glasgow
Sarah Bissell is a second year PhD student at the University of Glasgow, examining materiality in a selection of ghost stories by Victorian women writers such as Margaret Oliphant, Vernon Lee, and Edith Nesbit. She is currently working on a chapter exploring Charlotte Riddell’s engagements with nineteenth-century economic culture, in conjunction with an essay on Riddell’s portrayals of masculinity. Other research interests include the fin de siècle Gothic, and New Woman writing.
Ann Christie, Independent Scholar
My dissertation for the MA programme at the V&A/RCA in the History of Design was a detailed study of a Norwich silk-weaving company in the first half of the twentieth century, focusing particularly on the role of process, repetition and copying in design for woven textiles. The present paper on nineteenth-century mourning fabrics is based on part of the research for this dissertation.
I have a particular interest in areas where science and design intersect, and have published an article in the V&A Online Journal entitled ‘Nothing of intrinsic value’: the scientific collections at the Bethnal Green Museum about science displays in the nineteenth century. A further article A Taste for Seaweed: William Kilburn’s late eighteenth-century designs for printed cottons, about the cultural and scientific contexts of the seaweed designs of the botanical illustrator and calico printer William Kilburn has just been published in the Journal of Design History.
I am currently employed as a support worker for students with disabilities and undertake freelance research.
Sarah Clark, University of York
Sarah Clark completed an undergraduate degree in History at the University of York before moving on to her Masters at the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern studies at the University. Her MA thesis concerned the marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria and its symbolic meaning in Seventeenth-Century England. Having a long-standing passion for the history of the Caroline era, the way in which this period has been presented at different points in the past piqued Sarah’s interest. She began her doctoral research in the Department of History at York in 2009, investigating the cultural impact the Cavalier cause of the English Civil War has left on the country since 1649. Her research has taken her to museums, castles, stately homes, churches and many other historical locations throughout Britain in the course of studying how memories of the conflict have been remembered on a local level.
Miruna Cuzman, University of Edinburgh
Miruna Cuzman is a PhD Candidate in the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. Her main interest resides in war imagery, with a focus on the painter of Irish extraction, William Orpen. Her PhD thesis investigates the latter painter’s artistic production during the later stages of the First World War. Ms Cuzman completed her MA in the History of Victorian Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and has been a visiting lecturer on war art at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her research centers on the Aesthetic Movement in Victorian art, British Impressionism in the last decade of the nineteenth century and British art during the First World War.
Helen Frisby, University of the West of England
Dr Helen Frisby obtained her PhD on The Spiritual, Social and Emotional Significance of Death and Dying in Yorkshire, c.1840-c.1914 from the University of Leeds in 2009. She is presently an Associate Lecturer in History at the University of the West of England, Bristol. She speaks regularly on the history, folklore and material culture of death, dying and bereavement at national and international academic gatherings, as well as giving talks to the general public, has undertaken consultancy work and has appeared on national television. Related research interests include early modern antiquarianism, the Victorian medievalists and the relationship between micro- and macrohistories. She is particularly interested in working with folklore and material/visual culture as sources of historical evidence. Other teaching interests include the development of Western culture and identity from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Great War. Helen’s most recent publication is ‘These horrid superstitions’: death and dying amongst the English ‘folk’, c.1840-c.1914’ in Marius Rotar and Adriana Teodorescu (eds), Dying and Death in 18th–21st Century Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar Press, 2011).
Brittany Hudak, Art History, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Museum of Art
Brittany Hudak is a Ph.D. candidate in the Joint Program of Art History at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Case Western Reserve University, in the United States. She received a Masters of Arts with Distinction from Royal Holloway, University of London in Victorian Media and Culture in 2007. Ms. Hudak’s area of focus is nineteenth-century British art and material culture generally; more specifically, her special areas of interest include the history of photography, Victorian photo-collage and scrapbooks, the early paintings of William Rothenstein, bereavement and social realism, and the London art market during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Her current Ph.D. topic addresses the question of genre painting at the close of the nineteenth century, examining artistic and economic dialogues in the Anglo-Venetian genre paintings of Luke Fildes and Henry Woods (1875-1920). She has presented her research at the College Art Association National Conference, the Midwest Art History Society Conference, and the Cleveland Symposium, and is presently a Lecturer at Cleveland State University.
Lucetta Johnson, The Courtauld Institute of Art
Lucetta Johnson completed her PhD at The Courtauld Institute of Art in 2011. Her thesis was entitled ‘Beyond the Hair-Line: The Representation of Hair in the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’. She is a Visiting Lecturer at The Courtauld Institute of Art where she teaches the BA3 course ‘Gender and the Body in Victorian Art’. Her publications include ‘Memory and Melancholy in the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’, Immediations, 2010 and ‘The Thematics of Touching’, Life, Legend, Landscape: Victorian Drawings and Watercolours, exhibition catalogue, The Courtauld Gallery, 2011. Lucetta has also worked on a variety of exhibitions at Tate, The Courtauld Gallery, The Guildhall Art Gallery and Sir John Soane’s Museum. Her current research interests include the production of space and the representation of materiality in Pre-Raphaelite art.
Lucy May, Independent Scholar
Lucy May is a practising artist and researcher based in London. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2010 with an MA in Sculpture and has since exhibited widely and continued to pursue her academic interests independently. Her MA dissertation was entitled Death, Memory, Desire and the Overwrought Object. This text defined a new category of cultural phenomena which are defined by their relationship to the commemorative, and display qualities of decorative excess, artisanal skill, emotional introspection and the fantastical. It has developed into a study of how melancholia, abundance and desire are given physical form, both in art and cultural artefacts. Current studio and academic practice investigates the role of customisation and the hand-made in relation to mourning and memory. For the roundtable discussion, she will be presenting a comparative analysis of a Victorian hearse with contemporary sculptural coffins from Ghana.
Jane Wildgoose, School of Art and Design History, Kingston University
Jane Wildgoose is an artist, writer, broadcaster, and NESTA Fellow. She is Keeper of her own collection, The Wildgoose Memorial Library, and works to commission with collections, archives and museums in the UK and USA: most recently with Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and the Yale Center for British Art; and as a Museumaker selected maker with the Portland Collection, Welbeck, in 2010.
She has co-devised /presented documentaries for the BBC, including a Sunday Feature for Radio 3 in which she examined her responsibilities for two human skulls in The Wildgoose Memorial Library collection (A Tale of Two Skulls 2008); and a meditation on the post mortem fate of a wisp of hair from the head of Horatio Nelson, bought on eBay (On One Lost Hair, Radio 4 2004). In 2001 she was co-recipient of a Wellcome Sciart Award with a consultant gastroenterologist and an opera director, and two Arts Council ‘Year of the Artist’ Awards with fellow artists working with collections.
She is currently a PhD candidate in the School of Art & Design History at Kingston University, where her practice based research focuses on collection and interpretation of human skulls and hair in late Victorian London. She is co-leader of the Material Thinking and Creative Practice Module, MA Museum and Galleries/Heritage and Contemporary Practice at Kingston University. www.janewildgoose.co.uk