Inaugural Lecture: Juliet Simpson
Thursday 13 May 2021
06:00 PM - 07:00 PM
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Potent Relics: Art and Memory Matters
‘Anybody great, we’re all interested in the relics. If you found an unfinished Gauguin, you’d still want to see it’. The words of the poet Derek Walcott remind us that, from the Sistine Chapel to the Selfie, the act of creating and remembering are intimately entwined. Relics resonate in the present; they are not only the caskets of past passions. In a journey that takes us from cathedrals to the smallest personal keepsake, this lecture sheds new light on the pivotal contributions made by artists, via monuments and objects including of the past, to shape present and future memory-making. Focusing on three key historical moments from the 1820s, 1920s to 2020, it invites fresh questions about Romantic relics and the art of ‘nation’; the conflicted objects and afterlives of war; imaginaries and emotions of connection. We will explore how art connects memory – but even more: what art reveals and creates from relics seen as potent gatekeepers of the future that is also about us.
Juliet Simpson is Full Professor of Art History, Chair of Visual Arts and Cultural Memory and Research Director of the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities. She studied Art History at the universities of St Andrews and Oxford. Her interests are, art and its publics; uncanny modernities; art and nation; the medieval present, and capitals and cultures, including books on Jules Flandrin: the Other Fin de Siècle (2001); with Carol Adlam, Critical Exchange: Art Criticism in Russia and Western Europe (2009), and forthcoming, Gothic Modernisms. Juliet’s distinctions and awards include from the Leverhulme Trust; AHRC; British Academy; Royal Netherlands Academy of Art and Sciences as Visiting Professor at the University of Amsterdam-Rijksmuseum (2017-18); Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, Oxford, and currently as Visiting Fellow (2019-21) at the Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Studies, University of London.