VAR Seminar Series


R. Delauney (1912) Windows Open Simultaneously (Detail)


Spotlight for Winter/Spring season 2017 is the new ‘Transnationalism’ Guest Seminar series, featuring papers by three leading UK and international experts on Globalizing the business of art;  Empire and identity, and Curation as a transnational practice.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Dr Jan Baetens (Assistant Professor, Department of Art History and Literary and Culture Studies at Radboud University, Nijmegen)

National Brands and International Trade in the Nineteenth-Century Art Market: from the General Exhibition to the French Gallery’

Abstract: The growing internationalisation of the nineteenth-century British and European art world went hand in hand with the expanding importance of the very conceptual categories that this integration seemed to question: artistic and commercial labels referring to nationality, most conspicuously articulated in the division of art production into separate national schools. As the notion of national schools gained prominence as a conceptual category in the knowledge economy of the time, internationally operating artists, dealers and other agents also became increasingly aware of its commercial potential: they stimulated an art discourse centred on national identity and adapted their commercial strategies accordingly, sometimes making national school into actual national brands.

This international dynamic can be examined on the basis of two interconnected case studies, both situated in the Mid-Victorian London art market: the General Exhibition of 1851, a little-known but ambitious, internationally oriented contemporary art exhibition organised in the fringe of the Great Exhibition, and the rise of the so-called French Gallery, a highly successful commercial gallery set up by the art dealer Ernest Gambart in London and specialising in contemporary French and Belgian art.


Wednesday  15 March 2017

Dr Sarah Victoria Turner, Assistant Director, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

From Ajanta to Sydenham: Christiana Herringham and the Transnational Networks of Empire c. 1911′ 

Through this talk we will make the journey between the Buddhist cave-temples of  Ajanta in the state of Maharastra in Western India to the iron-and-glass structure of the Crystal Palace, which perched atop Sydenham hill in South London. What connects these two locations are some travelling objects which moved between Ajanta and Sydenham through the industrious, logistically-sophisticated and ever-restless networks of the British Empire. These objects were painted “copies” of the ancient paintings found inside the prayer halls and meeting rooms hewn from into the sheltered rock amphitheatre situated in a verdant valley in the Deccan. One set of copies was made in the mid-19th century by Major Robert Gill, and another set was made in the early twentieth century by Christiana Herringham and a team of Indian and British copyists. Through these copies, this talk will explore the travelling lives of the colonial copy and copyist within the circuits of the British Empire in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Dr Sarah Victoria Turner is the Deputy Director for Research at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London. She is also the co-editor of  British Art Studies, an open-access digital journal which is co-published with the  Yale Center for British Art. Sarah also teaches art history and is Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art.  Sarah’s research interests encompass many aspects of British art from 1850 to 1950 and she has published her work in exhibition catalogues, academic publications and online. Most recently, she co-edited After 1851: the Visual and Material Cultures of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham with Kate Nichols (Manchester University Press). In 2018, she will co-curate a major exhibition with Mark Hallett at the Royal Academy in London to mark 250 years of the Academy’s Summer Exhibitions. Sarah was recently named one of Apollo magazine’s ‘40 Under 40’ inspirational people in the European art world. 

Venue: Bugatti Seminar Room, Bugatti Building, Coventry University. 2.15-4.00pm (with refreshments): ALL WELCOME



Wednesday 3 May 2017

Dr Ben Thomas, Senior Lecturer in History of Art and Theory, Curator Studio 3 Gallery, University of Kent

‘Curating the Gallery as a Space of Transnational Engagement’

Venue: Bugatti Seminar Room, Bugatti Building, Coventry University. 2.15-4.00pm (with refreshments): ALL WELCOME

‘Visions of Art’: the visual arts interdisciplinary research seminar series returns in 2017  

Calls to contribute to the new series, themed on ‘Future-Past’ will go out early March. This series is to provide a platform for trialling new research, emerging early-career research and PhD students to present papers/panel or projects in a context of informal feedback and knowledge-sharing with a view to developing for external conferences, publication or exhibition.



Dr Steven Parissien ‘Lost Horizons? Design, Aspiration and the Postwar British Car.’ Steven Parissien is Visiting Professor in Architectural History and Visual Heritage and Director at Compton Verney Museum, Warwickshire. Dr Steven Parissien has an internationally excellent reputation as an eminent scholar of British architectural history and design heritage spanning the eighteenth to late twentieth centuries. He is a distinguished curator with a substantial record of internationally acclaimed scholarly exhibition outputs, most recently, Britain in the Fifties: Design and Aspirations (Compton Verney 2016), Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature (Tate, 2013) and Canaletto: Celebrating Britain (Paul Holberton, 2015). He has contributed significantly to academic art and design leadership in his field in his former role as Professor of Architectural History and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Plymouth and Assistant Director of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

The Autumn Visual Arts Research Forum | The fora are informal platforms to share current staff/emerging research projects in the visual arts research fields, including in interdisciplinary research contexts. 


The Spring/ Summer Season in 2016 covered a range of exciting papers/presentations on: visual diasporas; cultural identity, space and visual practices; photography and health; visual identities of the gallery/museum. Related events included:

The AHRC- VIVID project events led by George Saxon 

FACETS series presented in collaboration with The Herbert art gallery, convened by Rachelle Viader-Knowles

A guest research workshop from visiting Professor Anna Maria von Bonsdorff – ‘Curating the transnational exhibition’ Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff is a world-leading international curator and expert in national and transnational identities of art, visual culture in Europe and Asia of the 19th and 20th centuries. She is also Visiting Professor in Art and Design History and Curation in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (2016-19). Professor von Bonsdorff studied at the Universities of Helsinki and Cambridge gaining her MPhil with Distinction and went on to take her PhD in colour theory in art and design at the University of Helsinki. She has achieved international renown for her publications and curated scholarly exhibitions in Finnish and international modern art and design. She is an authority on modern colour theory, modern sculpture; visual cultures of landscape and space; identities of ‘nation’ in design and architecture; interiors, photography cinema and transnational capitals of art. She has a distinguished curatorial reputation on the European and world stage as lead curator for internationally-acclaimed and pioneering exhibitions, notably on ‘Van Gogh to Kandinsky’ (Amsterdam-Edinburgh-Helsinki: 2012), ‘Sibelius and the World of Art’ (Helsinki-Stockholm: 2014-15) and currently, as principal curator for the world-touring ‘Japanomania’ exhibition (Helsinki-Tokyo): a ground-breaking exploration of East-West artistic exchange and transforming ideas of cultural identity. The lecture with plenary presented a unique insight into this transnational project at the cutting-edge of contemporary debates about identities of ‘European’ culture within and beyond European borders.


Papers from:

 Dr Marion Arnold (Historical and Critical Studies, Loughborough University): ‘Visual Culture, Domicile and the Diasporic Condition in 20th-Century Post-Colonialist Visual Cultures’

Dr Rob Tovey (Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Coventry): ‘Photography as Medical Insight’

 Lauren Walden (PhD student in Art and Transnationalism, FAH), ‘Camera Work and Minotaure: Cosmopolitan Connections between Symbolist and Surrealist Photography’

 Dr Tessel Bauduin (Post-Doctoral Researcher and Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art History, University of Amsterdam) Dr Bauduin is  FAH Visiting Academic in Art History (modern and contemporary): 2016, ‘Reframing Fantastic art from Bosch to Magritte’ .