King’s College London
Supervised by Dr Clare Barlow, Tate Britain and Professor Mark Turner, King’s College London
October 2015 –

Duncan Grant, ‘Bathing’ 1911
Duncan Grant
Bathing 1911
Tate
© Tate

This AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award focuses on the intersections between ethnicity, queerness and desire in British art c.1900 to 1940.

In recent years, scholarship on ‘alternative modernisms’ and ‘colonial modernisms’ has revised and challenged our received knowledge of this period. Questions of race and queer sexuality in the field of the visual arts, however, remain a comparatively unstudied area. The doctorate will address this gap through a series of case studies centred on artists, artistic networks and various forms of representation.

Drawing on material found in Tate’s archive and collection, the thesis will concentrate on painters such as Duncan Grant and Edward Burra, photographers such as Angus McBean and Barbara Ker-Seymer, and artists’ models such as Henry Thomas and Patrick Nelson. It will consider the often exploitative relationship between artist and sitter, especially in the context of race, and will question how queerness complicates this troubling dynamic. In particular, Eleanor Jones is interested in work which establishes a sense of kinship and community within the frame, and she seeks to explore how certain artistic practices facilitate depictions of solidarity, as opposed to alienation.

The research will feed directly into the work of Tate, enhancing displays and online entries, as well as contributing to a forthcoming exhibition. In examining the relationship between ethnicity and queer sexualities, alternative narratives emerge, allowing for a radical reassessment of British art during this period and beyond.