A panel of artists, writers, filmmakers and historians discuss the complex connections between the historic and the contemporary

The Presence Of The Past: Art And The Historical Imagination Symposium – Part 1: Welcome

An introduction to the symposium

Welcome session for The Presence of the Past introducing the themes explored in the symposium within the context of Tate Britain displays.

The Presence Of The Past: Art And The Historical Imagination Symposium – Part 2: Television Histories

Television Histories

Panel discussion around the ongoing popularity of historically themed programmes such as period dramas and fictional reworkings of historical periods in television, radio and cinema.

The Presence Of The Past: Art And The Historical Imagination Symposium – Part 3: Artists' Histories

Artists’ Histories

Session exploring the relevance of history to contemporary artists

The Presence Of The Past: Art And The Historical Imagination Symposium – Part 4: Fictional Histories

Fictional Histories

Session discussing fictional histories: what kinds of histories are being offered up in contemporary interpretations?

The Presence Of The Past: Art And The Historical Imagination Symposium – Part 5: The Historical Imagination

The Historical Imagination

Session exploring the role of the imagination in the representation of the past.

At the outset of a new millennium Britain is still a nation obsessed with its past. Histories, biographies, period dramas and fictional reworkings of historical periods represent the increasingly popular staples of television, radio, cinema, and publishing.

But the precise nature of the relationship between the present and the past remains a complex, and frequently contested subject, particularly within the visual arts.

The Presence of the Past aims to discuss connections between the historic and the contemporary – an issue that has played a key role in the thinking underpinning Tate’s new galleries of British art. Sessions will explore the relevance of history to contemporary artists, writers, film-makers and historians, and ask the questions: how does the past inform the present, and how can the present animate the past; what kinds of histories are being offered up in contemporary interpretations; and what is the role of the imagination in the representation of the past?

Supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art