John Deakin – Before Bacon, Beyond Soho

John Deakin – Before Soho, Beyond Bacon
​John Deakin, Portrait 1930s © the John Deakin Archive

Tate Britain, Thursday 25 May 2017 10.00–18.00

A British Art Network Seminar organised by Gill Hedley and Paul Rousseau. 

This one day seminar examines the work and career of photographer John Deakin focussing on the period before he met Francis Bacon and the work that he produced beyond his strong association with Soho, especially during the Second World War and in Europe. On the forty fifth anniversary of Deakin’s untimely death, the seminar will bring together contributions from artists, art historians and curators to discuss new and wider research into John Deakin’s photography.

Contributors to the event include: Paul Rousseau, the John Deakin Archive; Gill Hedley (chair); Professor David Mellor, University of Sussex; Professor Jean Wainwright, University of the Creative Arts; Dr Hilary Roberts, Imperial War Museum; John Christie, artist and film director; Dr Sarah Victoria Turner, Paul Mellon Centre; Carol Jacobi, Tate Britain; Dominic Janes, Keele University.

The British Art Network brings together professionals working with British art from the 16th century to the present day. The aim of the network is to contribute to the sharing of expertise, research and ideas across cultural organisations; to enable improvements in curatorial skills and collection knowledge; and to foster greater collaboration between partners leading to enriched understanding and enjoyment of British art for audiences across the UK

Queer British Art

Simeon Solomon, 'Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene' 1864
Simeon Solomon
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene 1864
Watercolour on paper
support: 330 x 381 mm
Purchased 1980

Tate Britain, Monday 10 April 2017 10.00–18.00

Featuring works from 1861–1967 that connect in a wide variety of ways with same-sex desire and gender variance across this period, Queer British Art marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. It explores different approaches of artists and audiences in a time when established assumptions about gender and sexuality were being questioned and transformed.This seminar will bring together contributions from artists, art historians and curators to investigate museological challenges and sensitivities involved in putting on an exhibition of this kind and to explore these with the audience. The seminar will present a series of short papers, provocations and breakout sessions followed by a panel discussion and opportunities for networking as well as the opportunity to visit the Queer British Art and David Hockney exhibitions.Confirmed speakers include: Jonathan Katz, Art Historian and Curator of Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture 2014; Matt Smith, Artist; Clare Barlow, Tate, Curator of Queer British Art; Caroline Gonda, University of Cambridge: Jason Edwards, University of York. 

The event will be chaired by Andrew Stephenson (University of East London)Programmed by Clare Barlow, Assistant Curator British Art, 1750–1830, Tate.

On Sound and Space

Tate Britain, Thursday 27 October 2016

Collaborative seminar between British Art Network and Contemporary Art Society Subject Specialist Network on the topic of Sound Based Art

This one day collaborative seminar brings together the two networks to explore the different aspects of displaying, collecting and preserving sound pieces. The day includes a series of short papers from invited artists, academics and curators followed by panel discussions and opportunities for networking.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Susan Phillipsz, Artist
  • James Lingwood, Co-Director of Artangel
  • Salomé Voegelin, Associate Professor in Sound Arts, Member of Centre for Research in Sound Arts, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Cevdet Erek, Artist​
  • Elaine Speight, Curator and Research Associate School of Art, Design & Fashion University of Central Lancashire
  • Charles Quick, Professor of Public Art Practice, School of Art, Design & Fashion, University of Central Lancashire
  • Ann Gallagher, Director of Collections (British Art), Tate
  • Louise Lawson, Conservation Manager (Time Based Media), Tate

Join us to discuss current theoretical, practical and institutional issues focusing on British artists working with sound as a sculptural medium, and take an in-depth look at current practices in British contemporary art. 

 Dante Gabriel Rossetti Beata Beatrix 1864–70
Dante Gabriel Rossetti Beata Beatrix 1864–70
License this image
Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

Victorian Artists’ Autograph Replicas: Markets and Creativity

11 July 2016, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Autograph replicas, those done by artists who created the first versions of which the replicas were variations, were popular and profuse in the 19th century.  Artists’ replicas were done largely  for 2 reasons: to satisfy a commission from a patron, or to try out variations on a composition.  However, once the replica was done and circulated/purchased, this art work became distinct with its own audience, meanings, and values.  Replicas as variations  meant there were no ”originals”; first versions were not privileged and the replica, which varied from this first version, could embody new meanings and cultural values, absorbed by the replica’s new purpose, motives and place in a collection or museum.  In  this transformation and circulation, replicas might also possess agency and convey multiple temporalities in and out of their relations to other versions. Replication opens up ways of understanding art  production and consumption, and  the aesthetic and social forces that imbue art works with cultural value.

This free one-day British Art Network Seminar will begin with a tour of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery collection led by Victoria Osborne, Curator of Fine Art, focussing on the Pre Raphaelite replicas on display and will be followed by a series of short presentations. Confirmed speakers include: Judith Bronkhurst , Stephen Wildman, Nick Tromans, Sally Woodcock, Richard Green and Colin Trodd. The event is co-programmed by Dr. Alison Smith, Lead Curator, British Art to 1900, Tate and Prof. Julie Codell, Professor, Art History, Arizona State University.


F.N. Souza, 'Crucifixion' 1959
F.N. Souza
Crucifixion 1959
Oil on board
support: 1831 x 1220 mm
frame: 1952 x 1341 x 65 mm
Purchased 1993© The estate of F.N. Souza/DACS, London 2006

Revisiting Picturing Blackness Seminar

Tate Britain and Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, 4 April 2016

From November 1995 to March 1996 the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) hosted a small display called Picturing Blackness in British Art 1700s – 1990s selected by the renowned cultural studies scholar Paul Gilroy as guest curator. Featuring fourteen works of art mostly drawn from the Tate Collection, the display juxtaposed images from across two centuries, from Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) to FN Souza(1924-2002), Lubaina Himid (b. 1954) and Sonia Boyce (b. 1962). The aim, according to Gilroy’s exhibition text, was to address some of the ‘myths of Britishness’ and show how ‘racial differences have been a persistent feature of artistic expression’ and that ‘the complex and shifting symbolism of “race” has been important to several generations of artists’. Despite its modest size, the display had a significant impact, and has emerged as a key reference point for thinking about the challenges to art history, curatorial practice and exhibition histories of dealing with ‘the image of the black’ in British art. 

Twenty years on, this one-day British Art Network Seminar will reflect on the display, its controversial reception, and its legacy, while also addressing larger questions around the representation of ‘blackness’ and the black figure in British art, historically and in contemporary culture. The event is co-programmed by Dr. Martin Myrone, Lead Curator, British Art pre-1800, Tate and Prof. Paul Goodwin, Chair of Black Art and Design and Director of TrAIN (Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation), Chelsea College of Arts, UAL.

British School 16th century, 'An Allegory of Man' 1596 or after
British School 16th century
An Allegory of Man 1596 or after
Oil on wood
support: 570 x 514 mm
Presented by the Patrons of British Art 1990

Ecclesiastical Art

Friday 26 February 2016, 10.00–17.30
Westminster Abbey and Tate Britain 

This British Art Network seminar on Ecclesiastical Art will take its starting point at Westminster Abbey, to explore how artefacts are presented, interpreted and displayed in a secular age with authenticity, in ways that connect with the visitor, and explain their function as part of a living church.  There will also be the opportunity for delegates to learn about the plans underway for the Abbey’s new exhibition space in the Triforium opening in 2017/18. The afternoon sessions at Tate Britain will be comprised of a series of short case study presentations exploring how the museum, the church, and the academy, treat the subject and interpretation of ecclesiastical art and sacred objects. 

This seminar is for professionals, including curators, researchers, academics, with an interest in the subject area.

Other Events of Interest

Overlooked Women Artists and Designers, 1851–1918

Marianne Stokes, 'Candlemas Day' circa 1901
Marianne Stokes
Candlemas Day circa 1901
Tempera on wood
support: 416 x 340 mm
frame: 548 x 474 x 57 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1977

Monday 7 December 2015, 10.30–17.00
The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

Nan West…Jessie Keppie…Beatrix Whistler…Mary Hill Burton…Florence Chaplin…Sylvia Lawrence… Marie Egner…Mrs. Bernard Darwin…Who is she? From the lone watercolourist to the Arts and Crafts partner, or the exhibitor under her husband’s name, this question echoes through the history of art and design, and despite modern interest in women artists, many remain little known. This British Art Network seminar will focus on a period when women benefited from a wealth of new opportunities for training, patronage and exhibition. In asking ‘Why invisible?’, it will reflect on exhibition and research projects that give attention to the methodological issues raised by women artists’ work, as well as its analysis, display, and popular or critical reception. The seminar will explore not only ‘fine’ but applied art, beyond as well as within Scotland. Sessions will cover the themes of ‘Contexts and Networks; ‘Visibility, Reputation and Legacy’; and ‘Display and Re-evaluation’.

Programmed by Dr. Patricia de Montfort and Prof. Clare A.P. Willsdon, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow.

Displaying Art in Domestic Settings

Thomas Gainsborough, 'Giovanna Baccelli' exhibited 1782
Thomas Gainsborough
Giovanna Baccelli exhibited 1782

Monday 13 July 2015, 11.00–17.00
Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, Suffolk

Historic house museums and galleries face the shared challenge of how to display their collections to the visiting public. Ensuring that these kinds of spaces are used to their best advantage – both practically and intellectually – is not always straightforward. Organisations like Gainsborough’s House, which are recognised as the birthplace or home of an artist, face the additional question of how to display and interpret that individual’s work in a space implicitly connected with their life, or what we know of their biography. Potential strategies may include the re-creation of period rooms or domestic studios to create an immersive visitor experience; alternatively, the historic setting may be approached more neutrally, as a more conventional museum or gallery space. This British Art Network seminar will bring together curators and academics who have had to deal with some of these issues in a variety of contexts, across an array of British art historical periods and disciplines.

Audiences, Authority and Collaboration in Museum Research

A Joint Subject Specialist Network Seminar

12–13 March 2015
Tate Britain, The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery

This two-day seminar represents a collaboration between three Subject Specialist Networks; the British Art Network European paintings pre-1900;and the Understanding British Portraits network. It will seek to examine and investigate a range of subjects relevant to museum professionals and their collections through three overarching subjects: audiences for research, the role of cataloguing and research collaborations.

Mark Wallinger, 'Half-Brother (Exit to Nowhere - Machiavellian)' 1994-5
Mark Wallinger
Half-Brother (Exit to Nowhere - Machiavellian) 1994-5
Oil on canvas
displayed: 2300 x 3000 x 35 mm
Purchased 1995© Mark Wallinger

British Sporting Art Seminar

6 February 2015, 10.30–16.45, The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art, Newmarket

For decades, the genre of British sporting art has existed on the periphery of modern art historical discourse. To coincide with the development of a National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art, due to open in Newmarket in spring 2016, the British Art Network hosted a seminar dedicated to the examination of what seems to have become a marginalised genre of British Art. A selection of five to ten minute presentations raised key questions and introduced topics as a starting point for discussion. Primarily how do you define the genre of sporting art and who can qualify as a sporting artist? Although sporting art is traditionally understood to encompass rural pursuits, predominantly in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, how do we define the parameters of the genre, both chronologically and thematically? Finally, how does this niche genre relate to the wider sphere of British art? We hope that the day of presentations and extensive round-table discussion helped to provoke new interest in the genre and highlights the rich research potential that this area of British art can offer.

Programmed by Dr Cicely Robinson, Assistant Curator (British Sporting Art), National Horseracing Museum, in collaboration with Tabitha Barber, Curator, British Art 1550–1750, Tate.

Richard Hamilton, 'Chromatic spiral' 1950
Richard Hamilton
Chromatic spiral 1950
Oil on wood
support: 543 x 485 mm
Presented anonymously 1998© The estate of Richard Hamilton

Basic Design and The Hatton Gallery: Researching, Displaying and Sharing Archival Resources

21 November 2014, 11.00–17.00, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University

This seminar, supported by the John Ellerman Foundation, will take the revolutionary teaching known as Basic Design and the related display on view at the Hatton Gallery as a starting point for a day of presentations and discussion on the way in which researchers, curators and art institutions use, present and share archival material with their audiences.

Speakers will discuss their research into the history of Basic Design teaching, addressing the methodological challenges they encountered and the insight they gained from working with archival material. There will be short case study presentations from academics and curators who will examine the way in which their research, curatorial projects and education activities have been shaped around the archive as a living, nonlinear and discursive site. The day will also offer a chance to discuss different approaches to making archives accessible via exhibitions, digitisation, publication and learning and participation activities.

Programmed by Elena Crippa, Curator, Modern and Contemporary British Art, Tate, in collaboration with Rob Airey, Keeper of Art, Hatton Gallery.

William Hogarth, 'The Painter and his Pug' 1745
William Hogarth
The Painter and his Pug 1745
Oil on canvas
support: 900 x 699 mm
Purchased 1824

William Hogarth’s Triptych For St Mary Redcliff: How to Deal With Enormous Artworks in Public Collections

Friday 10 October 2014, 10.30–17.00

St Nicholas Church and Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

This seminar will focus on the prevailing challenges exceptionally large artworks in public collections pose for conservation, display and interpretation. The day will take its starting point from William Hogarth’s Triptych for St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, and the mismatch between its great art historical relevance and almost complete absence from public and even academic consciousness. Speakers will introduce a number of case studies exploring the challenges posed by large artworks, ranging from the Rijksmuseum’s highly successful new displays of seventeenth century Dutch masterpieces, such as Rembrandt’s Night Watch, to the National Trust’s recent conservation of painted ceilings in Kingston Lacy and Ightham Mote. We hope the seminar will inspire new ways of thinking about an old problem.

Programmed by Dr Jenny Gaschke, Curator of Fine Art, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in collaboration with Martin Myrone, Lead Curator, pre-1800 British Art, Tate.

Joseph Wright of Derby, 'An Iron Forge' 1772
Joseph Wright of Derby
An Iron Forge 1772
Oil on canvas
support: 1213 x 1320 mm
frame: 1458 x 1570 x 123 mm
Purchased with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1992

Joseph Wright of Derby and single artists in collections

Monday 30 June 2014, 11.00–17.00
Derby Museums 

This seminar will explore questions and issues around ‘single artist collections’ ;– the in-depth holdings of key individual artists which can be found in many museums and galleries across the UK. Often of international importance, these collections are major assets and a focus for public and scholarly interest. Some of these collections can rightly be considered as the foundation of world-class centres for the study and appreciation of key figures from art history. But these collections also bring challenges, in terms of presentation, administration, interpretation and research. Using the collection of Joseph Wright’s work at Derby Museums as a starting point, the day will explore these questions and challenges. Sharing their individual experiences and case studies are speakers from Gainsborough’s House, Watts Gallery, York Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield, and Derby Museums, alongside independent scholars with research interests in the field.

In addition, there will be an opportunity to visit the exhibition Joseph Wright in Bath (Derby Museum and Art Gallery, 25 May to 30 August 2014, in partnership with the Holburne Museum, Bath).

Programmed by Lucy Bamford, Keeper of Art, Derby Museums in collaboration with Martin Myrone, Lead Curator, pre 1900 British Art, Tate.


Arthur Boyd Houghton, 'Lady with a Book' circa 1860
Arthur Boyd Houghton
Lady with a Book circa 1860
Oil on canvas
support: 241 x 190 mm
Presented by Mrs E.C. Davis 1926

Overlooked Victorian artists

Manchester Art Gallery
Thursday 16 January 2014, 11.00–17.00

This seminar will look at the case of Victorian artists, male and female, who were well-known in their day but have since come to occupy a marginal position in the history of British art. We will examine the historiographic and museological reasons for their neglect and consider how far new approaches to curating and research may help rehabilitate reputation.

Programmed by Professor Liz Prettejohn, Head of Department and Professor of History of Art, University of York and Rebecca Milner, Curator: Collections Access (Fine Art), Manchester Art Gallery in collaboration with Alison Smith, Lead Curator, 19th Century British Art, Tate.

Peter Blake, 'The Fine Art Bit' 1959
Peter Blake
The Fine Art Bit 1959
Enamel, wood relief and collage on board
support: 914 x 610 x 25 mm
Purchased 1970© Peter Blake 2002. All rights reserved, DACS

British Pop Art Seminar

Tate Britain, Manton Studio
Monday 23 September 2013, 11.00–17.00

A one-day seminar on British pop art for members of the British Art Network.

Programmed by Marguerite Nugent, Head of Curatorial Services, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Gemma Yates, Curator, The Hepworth Wakefield, in collaboration with Chris Stephens, Head of Displays and Lead Curator Modern British Art, Tate Britain.

Exploring and examining areas of potential research and exhibitions the seminar will provide opportunities for discussion and networking alongside a number of academic and curatorial presentations. Speakers include:

Flavia Figeri, Assistant Curator of Tate Modern’s global Pop Show; Anthea Hamilton, Artist, discussing the influence of Pop art on her practice with a particular focus on the work of Allen Jones; Marco Livingstone; David Mellow, Professor of History of Art, University of Sussex; and Marguerite Nugent and Brendan Flynn, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, presenting their Pop collection and programming strategy.

Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, 'Banking at 4000 Feet' 1917
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson
Banking at 4000 Feet 1917
Lithograph on paper
image: 403 x 316 mm
Presented by the Ministry of Information 1918

British Art Network Seminar – First World War

Tate Britain, Auditorium
Friday 19 April 2013, 11.00–17.00

A one-day seminar on British art and the First World War at Tate Britain for members of the British Art Network.

The first British Art Network seminar is based around the First World War. Led by Dr Emma Chambers, Curator of Modern British Art at Tate Britain in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum, London, and with contributions from other network members, the seminar will combine an academic element with the chance to share information about individual collections and future exhibition projects.

The day will include the following presentations:

  • Dr Sue Malvern: Witnessing and Testimony
  • Richard Cork: Dance of Death: Young British Artists in the First World War
  • Dr Jonathan Black: The Face of Death / Faces of the Dead: The Image of the Dead ‘Tommy’ in British First World War Memorial Sculpture
  • Grace Brockington: Art and Pacifism in the First World War

Alongside a number of programme presentations and opportunities for discussion.