Conference | Transforming Topography

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on April 10, 2016

Maps K.Top.14

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From The Paul Mellon Centre:

Transforming Topography
The British Library, London, 6 May 2016

A conference, organised by The British Library and The Paul Mellon Centre, that promises to shed new light and fresh insights on the field of topography and on The British Library’s collection

Topography is an emerging and dynamic field in cultural and art historical scholarship. The British Library holds an extensive and extremely fine collection of place-related material including topographical views, travel diaries, and antiquarian texts, amassed by distinguished collectors such as Charles I and II, Hans Sloane, and not least George III. The Transforming Topography conference is one element of an on-going research project which aims to explore The British Library’s topographic collections in the light of current research. George III’s topographical collection—estimated at 40,000 maps and views—is currently being catalogued and digitised with a new web space due in 2017. With talks delivered by both established and emerging scholars, the day will end with a chaired panel discussion, addressing the matter of ‘topography now’ in art history, cultural geography, and other disciplines. Ticket prices: £20 (full price, adult), £16 (senior citizens), £14 (students).


9:30  Registration

10:00  Welcome by Kristian Jensen (Head of Collections and Curation, British Library)

10:05  Introduction by Mark Hallett (Director of Studies, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art) and Felicity Myrone (Lead Curator, Western Prints and Drawings, British Library)

10:15  Session One
Chaired by Finola O’Kane Crimmins (University College Dublin)

Daniel Maudlin (University of Plymouth), A Narrow View of Nature: The Natural World Experienced through Early Modern Itineraries, Travel Maps, and Inns
This paper will consider how the road-building boom of Georgian Britain and British America transformed actual and imaginative experiences of travel. Drawing on the Library’s collection of contemporary travel aids, it will address how travel was recast as a distinctly linear experience: how printed itineraries and route maps presented a modern world defined by mobility but which reduced nature to a strip, experienced through a succession of views from a carriage window.

Kelly Presutti (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Louis Garneray and Topographical Painting as Border Control
Ports were one of the earliest sites depicted topographically in fine art; the practice was institutionalized in France in 1817 when Louis Garneray (1783–1857) was named official painter to the navy. His Vues des côtes de France in the British Library’s King’s Topographical Collection reveal how topography was deployed as an instrument of state formation and as a means to secure the nation at the site where it is most vulnerable—its borders. Garneray’s work was also widely disseminated in various formats, and in ways which transcended historical divisions between fine and decorative arts, such as a porcelain service produced at the state-sponsored Sèvres manufactory.

11.15  Coffee

11:45  Session Two
Chaired by John Bonehill (University of Glasgow)

Matthew Sangster (University of Birmingham), Accumulating London
How did the topographical series produced in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries seek to encompass and explain the rapidly-expanding metropolis of London? During this period, advances in print technologies, growing audiences and the interventions of clever entrepreneurs led to an unprecedented burgeoning of city images. As a legacy of past productions piled up, authors, artists and publishers began to cater to different constituencies by offering increasingly specialised versions of London. This talk will consider the contrasting ways in which these works organised, selected from and represented the city by employing digital methods and historical plans to display the geographical and cultural patterns that they trace.

Jenny Gaschke (Bristol Museum and Art Gallery), ‘Available for Useful Purposes’: The Braikenridge Collection of Topographical Drawings in Bristol
The antiquarian collector George Weare Braikenridge (1775–1856) brought together vast numbers of objects relating to Bristol’s history and keenly collected and commissioned views of Bristol, its harbour and environs. The Braikenridge collection will be evaluated within the wider practice of antiquarianism, and will also be situated within the development of British landscape art during the first half of the nineteenth century. Can the Braikenridge collection also shed light on how ‘topography’ is defined in the museum and art gallery, via collecting policies, storage, access, display, interpretation and research?

12.45  Lunch

13:45  Session Three
Chaired by Martin Postle (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)

Mikael Ahlund (Museum Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum), Topography, Iron-Making, and National Identity: A British–Swedish Comparison
This paper addresses the role British topography played in Scandinavia, paying particular attention to the output of two Swedish artists: Elias (1739–1818) and Johan Fredrik Martin (1755–1816). The brothers worked in London producing topographical images of the British countryside, and moved in the same circles as Paul Sandby. When they returned to Sweden in 1780 they emerged as the country’s leading topographical artists. With recourse to contemporary travel writing, this paper will attempt to identify themes in the brothers’ topographical imagery—themes connected to contemporary debates about national identity, economics, and  social order.

Amy Concannon (University of Nottingham / Tate Britain), A Place for the ‘Full Exercise of the Intellectual Powers of a Topographical Writer’: Lambeth’s Topographical Image, ca. 1800–50
With important antiquarian sites like Lambeth Palace and places of popular entertainment like Vauxhall Gardens, the London parish of Lambeth was a rich resource for topographical artists and writers at the turn of the nineteenth century. It was also a landscape in flux: a traditional ‘rural retreat’ on the Surrey side of the Thames undergoing rapid urbanisation. With a particular focus on the work of Lambeth-born topographer Edmund Wedlake Brayley (1773–1854), how did contemporary producers of topographical material—both visual and textual—negotiate the changing landscape of Lambeth?

Lucy Hodgetts (University of York), Topography and Graphic Caricature in Dagaty’s and Rowlandson’s Six Views of Different Entrances to London (1797–98)
From 1797 Rudolph Ackermann published six views of entrances to London after drawings by Rowlandson and Dagaty. They were sold at his Strand gallery, the Repository of Arts. This paper will analyse the social identities of the human figures in the views, their mobility, and how metropolitan topographical settings were employed by artists and writers to comment on contemporary social anxieties. It will also reveal the possible political agendas of a generic cross-over between topography and graphic caricature in visualising politically unstable subjects.

15:15  Tea

15:45  Round Table Discussion: Topography Now
Chaired by Mark Hallett (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)

Position papers and discussion with Jane Roberts (formerly Royal Collection, Windsor Castle), Stephen Daniels (University of Nottingham), John Barrell (Queen Mary, University of London), and Stephen Bann (University of Bristol)

17:00  Conclusion


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