The research project ‘The Sublime Object: Nature, Art and Language’ was one of the first major projects at Tate to be supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and has resulted in an exciting range of outcomes, including conferences and films – many of them available on these web pages – as well as gallery displays in Tate Britain and the commission of a new artwork. In developing this complex project Tate has naturally sought the help and advice of many people, and we should like to express here our profound gratitude to all the project contributors and to those who have generously assisted us.
Among Tate staff, we are grateful to Martin Postle, Richard Humphreys and Christine Riding, all of whom took turns in leading the project before I did so, and to Lydia Hamlett, the project’s post-doctoral Research Assistant. They each put in an immense amount of time, effort and dedication into realising this ambitious and innovative venture. Among the many Tate Britain curators who were involved in the project, Alison Smith led on the nineteenth-century material and Thomas Ardill, David Blayney Brown, Anne Lyles, and Martin Myrone made valued contributions as did the project doctoral student Rikke Hansen. Ann Gallagher and Andrew Wilson were particularly helpful in relation to the display of Douglas Gordon’s works. The project team also benefited from the support and professionalism of colleagues in a range of other departments at Tate. Thanks are owed to the Tate Library and Archive team, notably Krzysztof Cieszkowski and David Pilling, to the Tate Photography team, especially David Clarke, David Lambert, Marcella Leith and Rod Tidnam, to Andrew Tullis in the Legal department for his sound advice and to Ailsa Roberts in Development and Chris Garner, Kerry Gill and Ellie Goold in Finance, who have helped guide the project. Jennifer Batchelor contributed in important ways to the Learning aspects of the Tate Britain Gallery Display on the sublime. Special thanks are also owed to several members of the Research Department, especially Allie Biswas, Helena Bonett, Christopher Griffin, Helen Griffiths and Jennifer Mundy, for all their assistance with this project, while Alex Cary, as Digital Editor (Research), played a pivotal role in preparing the project materials for publication and in publishing the site. In this connection, we are also grateful to members of the Information Systems and Tate Media teams – Diane Hall, Alex Pilcher and John Sidney-Woollett – for their guidance and assistance.
External support is essential to Tate’s research operation and this project was no exception to this rule. We benefited from the advice, expertise and vision of a number of leading scholars in the field: Peter de Bolla from the outset, Denise Riley at the opening stages of the project and, latterly, Philip Shaw. From the contemporary art community, David Buckland and Greg Hilty made important contributions. Jacqueline Riding worked as a project manager for a period and helped with the development of some of the audio-visual material. We are especially grateful to the external members of the project steering group Anne Janowitz and Will Vaughan, a Tate Research Fellow. Large numbers of scholars attended our symposia and contributed papers and ideas and much of their work is available on these web pages. A number of artists, notably Douglas Gordon and Bill Viola, and their assistants and audio-visual technicians contributed to the set of short films also to be found here and we are grateful to them all.
At the AHRC we are indebted to Gail Lambourne for her steadfast support and guidance for this project, which formed part of the Council’s Landscape and Environment Strategic Programme. We are also grateful to colleagues at the University of Nottingham, where the AHRC programme was based, including the project director Stephen Daniels and Charlotte Lloyd.
Artist estate holders and families of artists have been extremely generous. We should like to thank warmly all those who have given us assistance.
We should also like to thank those institutions and individuals who have provided images from their collections, as well as those private collectors who wish to remain anonymous.
Finally, it is our hope that this project, which has been supported from so many different quarters, will help bring fresh thinking to Tate’s audiences and throw new light on a set of issues that lie at the foundations of our experience of the visual arts.