Thanks to Jenny K for graphics
Thanks to Jenny K for graphics
May 7th saw Landscape Surgeons meeting earlier than normal at Bedford Square for a fantastic day of first year PhD presentations. Covering topics from food, dining and family making, to creative writing, art, airports and neuro-aesthetics, and research methods from ethnography, diary keeping, writing, curation and painting it was an informative day.
The day kicked off with two presentations on the geographies of food. The first by Farah explaining her research on “Dinescapes” in Malaysia. As well as discussing her research Farah entertained us with a discussion of the different types of themed restaurants that she had encountered, including “toilet” themed ones! Canny was next up talking about food and family making, her research prompted a lively discussion of public and private dimensions of kitchens in China, including “open-kitchens” where private kitchens become public spaces. Finally, before lunch Katie discussed her work on and with dyslexic creative writers,including auto ethnographic discussions of the spaces of writing practices including desks, publishers and festivals. Discussion ensued around the spaces and spatialities of these writing practices and also their ‘creative’ elements. After lunch we turned to an afternoon of geography, writing and art. First up, Miranda talked about her explorations of place and writing, prompting discussions on mapping, style and data imaginaries. This was followed by two presentations focusing on art and airports, albeit in very different ways. Clare discussed her practice based work, including what it meant to create paintings whose form was guided by the rules of the airport, whilst Mike discussed the challenges of curation art at the airport and the methodological issues related to collaborative research. In both cases the aesthetics of airport spaces were a point of query and discussion. The afternoon’s presentations ended with Jareh Das, talking about curation and neuro-aesthetics, and the challenges and possibilities of using contemporary neurological technology designed for the gaming industry to explore the experiences of live art. Discussion tracked widely including queries around live art, neuro-aesthetics and the challenges of ‘measuring’ experience.
Thanks to the presenters for talking about their work, to the audience for questions and comments and to Innes for the photographs.
Farah Che Ishak: “Dinescapes: Ethnic restaurants and consumer culture in Malaysia”
Chen Liu (Canny): “Food, Home, and Family-making in Contemporary Guangzhou”
Katie Boxall: “Cultural Geographies of Dyslexic Creative Writing Practice”
Miranda Ward: “Writing (Augmented) Place”
Clare Booker: “Art and Airports; Departures and Arrivals live feed.”
Mike Thomason: ”Curating Site and Situating Curating: Art in the Airport”
Jareh Das: “Neuroaesthetics and the Exploration of Live Art”
Building an Empire: Corporate Vision & the Global Geographies of Infrastructure
Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD studentship to work on the company and photographic archives of the Pearson engineering firm, one of Britain’s most powerful global corporations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This studentship is one of eight PhD awards made by the newly-established Collaborative Doctoral Partnership managed by the Science Museum Group. The project will be supervised by Dr Innes M. Keighren & Prof Felix Driver (Royal Holloway) and David Rooney & Tilly Blyth (Science Museum, London). The studentship, which is funded for three years full-time equivalent, will be available from September 2013.
The project focuses on one of the richest under-explored collections in the Science Museum archives, associated with the global activities of the Pearson company which was involved in major infrastructure projects around the world, from tunnels and harbours to waterworks, railways and oil refineries. The archive includes 150 albums of photographs of industrial sites in Britain, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, and the Middle East, dating from the 1880s to the 1930s, accompanied by extensive archival records including contracts, negotiations and correspondence between the firm and its clients. The research will involve consideration of the organisational structure of the company, and the role of local knowledge in its increasingly globalised operations; and the role of photography in the internal management and public relations of the company.
The collection presents many possible research foci, including the visualisation of engineering technology and landscape (the numerous images of docks, tunnels, and panoramas), the social history of labour (as evident in depictions of the firm’s British and local workforces) and the connections between the public and domestic lives of businessmen. Key questions might include: to what extent does the Pearson collection reflect a distinctive company vision of the world? By what means did the company actually operate as a global business? How was knowledge and expertise managed and circulated within the company? By what process were company photographs actually commissioned and produced, and what were their purposes? How might such collections be used today, both within company histories and beyond them? Through a combination of archival research and visual analysis, the research will exploit the rich and varied collections of the Pearson firm to address wider questions to do with the knowledge economy of transnational business and the role of photography in the documentation, promotion, and preservation of work done at a geographical distance.
How to Apply
Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in history, geography, or other relevant discipline, and will need to satisfy AHRC academic and residency eligibility criteria including the requirement that candidates should normally have or be studying for a Masters or equivalent postgraduate qualification. Preference may be given to applicants with prior experience in working with business archives and/or photographic archives, though others are encouraged to apply.
Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a brief letter outlining qualifications for the studentship in a single Word document of no more than three pages in length. The names and contact details of two academic referees should also be supplied. Applications should be sent to email@example.com no later than 5 June 2013.
Interviews are scheduled to be held in the Science Museum, London, on the morning of 17 June 2013.
For further information concerning the project, please contact Innes Keighren (firstname.lastname@example.org) and for more information about the Social & Cultural Group at Royal Holloway, please visit the Group’s homepage.
Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig / Tha tìm, am fiadh, an Coille Hallaig
This free exhibition investigates the properties of forest memory through text, archive, and ‘xylarium’, or wood collection. Between the French horticultural term “forest trauma” and Robert Pogue Harrison’s “forests of nostalgia”, a whole discipline around history, witnessing, and the memorial qualities of woodland opens up.
On Saturday the 25th May I'll be talking about coastal literature at a public seminar at Abbey Walk Gallery, on the North East coast, for the exhibition Excavations and Estuaries: the Nature of Landscape (24th April - 1st June). The full information on the exhibition is in the Excavations & Estuaries Press Release (click to download), and the programme for the day seminar follows below.
Landscape Surgery First year presentations
Tuesday 7th May
11.00-11.15: Quick news round up and announcements
11. 15- 11.45: Farah Che Ishak: “Dinescapes: Ethnic restaurants and consumer culture in Malaysia”
11.45- 12.15 : Chen Liu (Canny): “Food, Home, and Family-making in Contemporary Guangzhou”
12.15- 12.45: Katie Boxall: “Cultural Geographies of Dyslexic Creative Writing Practice”
12.45- 1.45: Lunch (provided)
1.45-2.15: Miranda Ward: “Writing (Augmented) Place”
2.15- 2.45: Clare Brooker: “Art and Airports; Departures and Arrivals live feed.”
2.45- 3.00 pm- Break
3.00-3.30: Mike Thomason: ”Curating Site and Situating Curating: Art in the Airport”
3.30- 4pm : Jareh Das: “Neuroaesthetics and the Exploration of Live Art”
5.15: LGHG, Torrington Room 104, Senate House
Communities of resistance: towards a geography of dissent in First World War Britain Cyril Pearce (University of Leeds)
As there are only four days now left on the Forest Memory exhibition Kickstarter, I thought I would write a quick post about the project. We're currently budgeting, so it would be lovely if people could keep sharing the Kickstarter at this point, and/or contribute if you haven't (there are rewards!). For some of the new items we've confirmed for the exhibition, we're navigating some extra fees for reproduction permissions, and also for the transport of certain wood pieces (particularly tricky with a one metre bog yew specimen!).
Apropos of the Screening Nature Network's forthcoming weekend symposium and screenings at Whitechapel Gallery (eleven hours of natural history experimental cinema!), I thought I would put up some film related images which I've been coming across in my research.
Landscape Surgery Summer Session 2013
Unless otherwise indicated the sessions run, as normal from 2-4 in Bedford Square
7th May: The Presentation one: First year PhD presentation day 11-4pm (nb. note time change, we will provide buffet lunch) titles to follow…
4th June, TBC….
More informal events will continue over the summer… details to follow, please make suggestions/ plan events.
Also don’t forget the London Group of Historical Geographers seminar programme
by Caroline Cornish
Ranee Prakash, Curator of Seed Plants at the Natural History Museum, brought this amazing object to my attention recently. It’s not currently on display at the moment, as it doesn’t really fit into the Museum’s current display strategies but is kept with the reference collections. As a former keeper of botany at the Museum, John Cannon put it: ‘The models are of no scientific significance, but they are superb examples of miniature craftsmanship’. But Dr. Mark Spencer, Senior Curator in the British and Irish Herbarium at the Museum, has a particular interest in material of this sort, and is keen to promote its historical and cultural value.
These 32 models of potted plants, housed in a wooden and glass case, were crafted in metal alloy in the 1920s by Beatrice Hindley of Chiswick, London. They are set in plaster of Paris painted to resemble soil. They were once on display in the Exhibition Gallery at the Museum before it sustained major bomb damage during the Second World War.
Hindley was well-known as a maker of miniature flowers during her life-time. One customer was Queen Mary who commissioned Hindley to design the garden for the famous dolls’ house originally exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley 1924-25, and now on display at Windsor Castle. As she lived close to Kew Gardens, Hindley would study the plants there to ensure that every detail of her models was accurate.
What bigger pictures does all this help to illuminate? How women made their mark on the scientific landscape in the 19th and early 20th centuries, for one. And it’s a very interesting example of where art and science meet in the museum. These are boundary objects – ‘those scientific objects which both inhabit several intersecting social worlds … and satisfy the informational requirements of each of them’. Nineteenth-century museums were among the first to appropriate display techniques from a variety of spheres, including domestic, pedagogic, craft, and fine-art, to communicate scientific messages and to interest a broad constituency. But what particularly strikes me about them is their undeniable appeal, the appeal of the miniature, and to some extent, the appeal of past and picturesque display modes. One of the NHM’s most popular displays, after the animatronic dinosaurs of course, is the 19th century hummingbird case in the birds gallery which is always surrounded by visitors.
Such displays tell us as much about historical aesthetics as they do about former attitudes to collecting and displaying the world. Museums which have retained some sense of those aesthetics and attitudes – such as the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford – are of renewed interest to twenty-first century museum visitors, as museums of museums. At a recent seminar hosted by the London Group of Historical Geographers, Nick Thomas of Cambridge University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology presented details of Pacific Presences – a 5 year project funded by the European Research Council which involves a consortium of European ethnographic museums. One of the project’s aims is to ‘analyse and compare [European] collecting histories and ask how and why these enterprises resulted in distinctive collections and museums’. A second is to ‘propose new, powerfully historicised approaches to presentations of Oceanic art, and world cultures generally, appropriate to the European museums of the twenty-first century’. Let’s hope that the findings of the first of these can be incorporated into the practices of the second, such that past contexts and modes of display and collecting are not lost to future audiences.
Caroline Cornish is an AHRC Cultural Engagement Research Fellow in Royal Holloway’s Social and Cultural Geography research group and is currently conducting research at the Natural History Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on the theme of ‘Re-enchanting economic botany’.
 Star, S. L. & Griesemer, J. R. 1989 ‘Institutional Ecology, “Translations” and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-39’ Social Studies of Science 19 (3): 387-42