A Christmas Workshop: RIN/House of Illustration Partnership

Anna Glendenning is a PhD candidate from Roehampton’s Centre for Research in Romanticism, who works on caricature. She reports here on the Romantic Illustration Network’s collaboration with the House of Illustration on a workshop for Y8 pupils, supported by the University of Roehampton.

On Thursday 3rd December, the House of Illustration in King’s Cross London was home to an exciting day of collaboration between local schoolchildren, RIN member Dr. Mary L. Shannon from the University of Roehampton, and professional illustrator Merlin Evans.

A group of thirty girls aged 12-13 (from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington) braved a suitably chilly winter’s morning to visit the House of Illustration, where they immersed themselves in a special workshop on Dickens’s A Christmas Carol .  I also got to help out: it was hugely enjoyable to be part of such an inspiring day of interdisciplinary fun. For the full photostory, see http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/Courses/English-and-Creative-Writing/News/There-s-no-Bah-Humbug-this-Christmas-for-pupils-at-illustration-workshop/.

Dickens’ text has long been a favourite in English classrooms, but it was the aim of this collaboration to give the girls a unique opportunity to explore the crucial role of illustrations – both conceptually and creatively – with two experts.

The HOI’s learning programme, with Head of Education Emily Jost at its helm, is dedicated to bringing illustrations into the limelight. Its core aim is to enhance knowledge of and confidence in visual communication for all. The Romantic Illustration Network (RIN) shares this enthusiasm. RIN’s project to restore the importance of visual culture in the Romantic period involves a commitment to sharing and to promoting access to the research it undertakes.

Mary Shannon, who specializes in Victorian print culture and is a Dickens expert, led a lively session. By contrasting different illustrations of Scrooge with Dickens’s narrative, trying out their own sketches, and learning from Shannon about Victorian Christmas traditions, the girls contributed lots of compelling thoughts and critiques, expanding their understanding of the relationship between illustrations and Dickens’s text.

After taking a look at the House of Illustration’s current exhibition, the girls returned to the studio for a special session with Merlin Evans. Evans brought in tools from her trade and shared some different techniques of collage-making and line work to help the girls to get to grips with the material qualities of producing images. The girls rummaged through photocopies of Victorian illustrations and had the chance to try out the new drawing methods Evans had demonstrated. The results were exquisite. The girls were able to compare their work with the earlier sketches they had made – a great way to show how their understanding of Scrooge’s character had developed over the course of the workshop, and, hopefully, to boost their illustration skills and confidence into the future.

Future collaborative workshops involving RIN’s Professor Ian Haywood (Roehampton) and Dr Susan Matthews (Roehampton) are in the pipeline, so watch this space in the New Year!

Anna Glendenning

Autumn issue of ‘Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly’ now online

“And I only am escaped alone to tell thee”: the autumn issue of Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly is now online.

http://blake.lib.rochester.edu/blakeojs/index.php/blake

Blake Illustrated Quarterly

It is dedicated to two articles on Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job. Mei-Ying Sung describes in detail for the first time the set of pre-publication Job proofs at the Beinecke Library at Yale, and Sibylle Erle talks about Alfred Tennyson’s copy of Job: how and when he acquired it and how he used it.

For past issues, see http://bq.blakearchive.org/

A very Richardsonian experience: New BBC4 series on the origins of the novel, starts 8th October at 9pm

A very Richardsonian experience

By Lynn Shepherd

I’m sure a lot of people will remember the BBC4 series A Very British Murder (currently available again on the iPlayer, incidentally). What you may not know is that BBC Arts has been filming a follow-up, which will start airing in the next couple of weeks. It’s A Very British Romance this time, exploring the origins of the romantic novel, and how our notions of love and marriage have evolved over the last 200 years. To the Beeb’s immense credit, they’re starting their jaunt through romantic fiction with Samuel Richardson. And that, dear reader, is how I found myself in Spitalfields, on a bright cold day in April, talking Pamela, passion, and pictures with Lucy Worsley.

Still

The house we shot the footage in must be one of the most popular film locations in London, judging by the people going in and out. It’s an 18th century house in Princelet Street that’s been stripped back to how it must have looked when it was first built, closets, candles, wainscots and all. I’ve done some filming before, but it’s always fascinating to watch the pros at work, and see how many takes it takes to capture even a few seconds of the finished article.

Making the literary interesting on screen isn’t always easy, but in Richardson’s case, of course, we have the illustrations to Pamela to help bring the text to life. Basing our discussion on prints of Highmore’s ‘novel-in-pictures’ gave Lucy and me the chance talk through the plot and themes of the novel, and then broaden the conversation out to 18th-century attitudes to love and sex, as well as the significance of the prints themselves, as examples of the ‘multi-media event’ that Pamela became.

The series starts on BBC4 on 8th October at 9pm and I think you’d enjoy watching it – I certainly enjoyed being part of making it.

CFP: NeMLA 2016 panel: “Word and Image on Page, Stage, and Screen in the Long Nineteenth Century.”

NeMLA 2016 panel

“Word and Image on Page, Stage, and Screen in the Long Nineteenth Century.”

Chairs Robert Hasenfratz and Kate Holterhoff are asking for abstracts: they welcome projects engaging any aspect of the word-image nexus in illustrated novels, stage productions, or film in Anglo-European or North American culture during the long nineteenth century.

‘The relationship between text and image has an important and suggestive place in the humanities. While in decades past literary scholars have been apt to treat any visual elements accompanying literary texts as supplemental, a growing number of visual and media studies theorists have expressed interest in the important and under-theorized role of paratexts in the form of advertisements, book illustrations, and film and stage adaptations. We have a particular interest in the visual culture of the long nineteenth century. For example, the craze for tableaux vivants, re-creations of famous paintings on stage with living actors, infected both the popular stage, early film, and book illustration in the mid-1890s. The visual culture leading to this moment had itself been conditioned by pre-cinematic arts like magic lantern shows and stereoscopic viewers. We are interested in the complex ways that this visual culture not only supplemented but determined the representational conditions of literary texts, films, and stage productions.’

Abstracts should be submitted by September 30, 2015 through the following link: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/15947

Topographies: London Group of Historical Geographers Autumn Seminar Series

LONDON GROUP OF HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHERS
Seminar Programme, Autumn 2015
TOPOGRAPHIES
Talks in this series may well be of interest to RIN members. Seminars are held on Tuesdays at 5.15pm in the Wolfson Conference Suite (NB01), Institute of Historical Research, North Block, Senate House, University of London.

For further details please visit the LGHG homepage or the seminar listing on the IRH website.

6 October 2015
Stephen Daniels (University of Nottingham)
“’Map-work”: John Britton and the topographical imagination in nineteenth-century Britain.
20 October 2015
Veronica della Dora (Royal Holloway, University of London)
“And he walked from country to country”: Vasilij Grigorovich Barskij’s pious topographies, 1723–1747.
3 November 2015
William Bainbridge (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)
“Mountains run mad”: shared topographies and conflicting memories in the Dolomites.
17 November 2015
Jordan Goodman (UCL)
Making places, knowing lives: Joseph Banks learns Australia, 1770–1810.
1 December 2015Felicity Myrone (British Library)Re-evaluating topography: the case of Captain Thomas Davies’ An east view of the great cataract of Niagara (1762).

Image of the Month: William Blake, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch (c.1800-1803).

Blake Sealing the Stone

William Blake, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch (c.1800-1803). Watercolor, with pen, in gray ink, black ink and graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, wove paper. Yale Center for British Art, Yale Art Gallery Collection, Everett V. Meeks, B.A. 1901 Fund.

In an ‘Image of the Month’ in February, I wrote about Blake’s watercolour Mary Magdalen at the Sepulchre (c.1805). In this post, I’m jumping back a bit to another of Blake’s watercolour illustrations to the Bible, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch (c.1800-03), which depicts a moment slightly earlier in the biblical narrative, and was probably also produced several years earlier (the exact dates of these works are not known, but they have been assigned dates based on stylistic features).

The text illustrated is Matthew 27:66 which describes the sealing of Jesus’ tomb on the day after his death and burial. The chief priests and Pharisees had heard Jesus say that he would rise again on the third day, and they feared that the disciples would try to take away the body to fabricate a resurrection. They therefore asked Pilate to secure the tomb, so he sent a watch and instructed them make the tomb as sure as they could (27:62-65).

In Blake’s illustration, the task is being undertaken very diligently. At the centre of the design is a young man balancing on a ladder, holding a palette of cement and a knife. He is turning to his right, directed by a priest standing below who appears to be pointing out a gap in the cement for the young man to seal. There are two more priests to the left of the ladder, and five soldiers are standing guard.

This is a relatively unusual subject, which is perhaps unsurprising; illustrators of the New Testament have tended to focus on the acts of Jesus and his disciples, not on those of Jesus enemies. We cannot be certain whether the subject was chosen by Blake or by his patron, Thomas Butts; either way, its inclusion in the series of biblical illustrations emphasises that the tomb was firmly shut. Thus, when Blake added The Angels Hovering over the body of Christ in the Sepulchre (c.1805, V&A) to the series, he was giving the viewer privileged access to a scene inside the firmly-sealed tomb, and then in The Angel Rolling Away the Stone from the Sepulchre (c.1805, V&A) and The Resurrection (c.1805, Fogg Art Museum), Blake depicts Christ bursting that seal.

As a stand-alone design the subject may not have obvious appeal, but in a series of illustrations to the narrative of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch plays a key role.

Naomi Billingsley (Manchester)

NEW Online Resource: The Romantic Illustration Network Shakespeare Gallery

Announcing: The Romantic Illustration Network Shakespeare Gallery
 
Ready for the 2016 anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the Romantic Illustration Network is delighted to announce its digitisation of prints from Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, courtesy of negatives provided by Professor Frederick Burwick (UCLA).
 
The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery was open to the public on London’s Pall Mall from 1789 to 1805. Featuring paintings of scenes from Shakespeare by major artists of the day, including Fuseli, Reynolds, and Kauffmann, the gallery was a popular if not a financial success.
 
Prints of the paintings were published in volumes (as well as in an illustrated edition of Shakespeare), and are now digitised here by the University of Roehampton for use under a Creative Commons license. Images are arranged alphabetically by play, and new plays will be added over the coming months, so do keep checking back on the site. We have also digitised the front matter from the volumes.
 
Click on the thumbnails to access larger versions of the images, and to view the full-sized image. Once you have clicked on a thumbnail there is space to add comments on each image, and we very much encourage you to do so.
 
If you have any feedback, questions, or suggestions, please do let us know.
 

Event Report: ‘The Art of Quotation and the Miniaturised Gallery’, RIN 4, Saturday 6 June 2015

The fourth Romantic Illustration Network symposium took place at the House of Illustration on Saturday the 6th of June. Once again the event was well-attended with a friendly mix of regulars and new faces, local and international.house-of-illustration-logo-kids-in-the-halls-column-arts-agency

We had two inter-related themes for the symposium:

1.Miniaturization: Drawing on Peter Otto’s work on virtual culture in the Romantic period, is the illustration a form of virtual gallery? How does visual meaning change when an image is resized?
2.The Art of Quotation: How were literary quotations used to conceptualise visual images? How important are framing devices to the meaning of an image?

However, speakers were free to interpret the terms ‘quotation’ and ‘miniaturised gallery’ in any way they saw fit, and to raise any other questions they chose.

We kicked off with David Worrall (Roehampton/Nottingham Trent) who presented us with his concept of ‘locations of curation’. After crediting William St Clair in RIN 3 for inspiring his quest for a new theory of illustration, Worrall explored what he described as two currently disconnected narratives – Romanticism and eighteenth-century theatre – to consider the changing moments when images interact with other objects, such as the people who view them. He used the example of theatrical portraits to demonstrate how images moved from stage, to page, to prints, to household objects.

Susan Matthews’s (Roehampton) paper interrogated questions of scale, domesticity, and artistic encounter, the idea of ‘meeting’ an artist though their illustrations. She pointed out that the name ‘House of Illustration’ (as opposed to ‘Gallery of Illustration’) is significant: we often seem to want to give illustration a ‘home’. She focused on Fuseli’s illustrations to an edition of Cowper’s popular poem The Task (1785), and revealed the awkward tensions between Fuseli’s depictions of domestic scenes and Cowper’s lines, whilst also showing that Fuseli could produce powerful images on a small scale when he really wanted to. Matthews drew parallels between Fuseli’s techniques and the recent exhibition of Paula Rego’s work at House of Illustration.

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Plate 17, The Book of Urizen William Blake Archive

From here we zoomed in still further, with Peter Otto’s (Melbourne) paper on plate 17 of Blake’s The Book of Urizen (1794). Otto gave a detailed and original reading of the plate which encompassed The Terror and images of decapitation by guillotine, the story of Adam and Eve, Perseus and the Gorgon, and the Narcissus myth to show how the plate connects primal history with events unfolding in the present through an art of visual and textual quotation. He argued that the plate illustrated a turning point in society, represented as a decapitation, and that Blake was constructing an imagined reality through quotation which in turn tries to shape or frame what reality is.

From royal executions to royal collections, Kate Heard (Royal Collection) showed us how George III and George IV both engaged with the reproductive print market, albeit in very different ways, as prints enabled middle-class consumers to gain access to items in the Royal Collection. We saw how Royal Collection items circulated as prints, so much so that satirical caricaturists could imitate them, and she argued that the print market played a crucial role in the public sense of the King. We also saw what a fantastic resource the Collection is for scholars.

Taking us through to the Victorian period, Bethan Stevens (Sussex) spoke about her work on the albums of proofs put together by the dominant mid-century London wood-engraving firm, the Dalziel family. The firm of Dalziel produced the illustrations to a vast range of literary and non-literary texts, including such classics as the Alice books and Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Stephens showed how, in the albums, the exclusion of words affects the status, form and narrative of illustration, and provokes a new attention to illustrations as images which enables all kinds of subversive and intriguing readings.

Three Bibliographical Society Studentships were awarded: Anne Musset (Warwick/Paris-Diderot), Tessa Kilgariff (National Portrait Gallery/Bristol), and Naomi Billingsley (Manchester). We ended the day, as usual, with a period of open discussion about the broader themes of the event and the future of the network (upcoming ventures include the panel at BARS 2015 in Cardiff and the digitised Shakespeare Gallery, currently under construction). After that we adjourned to the pub, to round off a successful and fun day with a friendly drink.

Details of the BARS panel will be appearing on the blog and website soon: we hope to see you there!

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Birkbeck Arts Week Starts: Monday, 18 May

Birkbeck Arts Week Starts: Monday, 18 May

We start on Monday 18 May with sessions on Curiosity (with Marina Warner and others), Coffee and Commonwealth, illustrator and caricaturist Chris Riddell‘s reflecting on Gulliver’s Travels and Diderot on Monday, to discussions of Ruins, productions of S.T.Coleridge‘s Ancient Mariner and Blake‘s Illuminated manuscript Vala or the Four Zoas, Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner with members of the film team, and we end on Friday with sessions on the enlightenment art of Shadow Portraits and a Magic Lantern Show. And this is just a couple of examples.

Do visit the Birkbeck Arts Week’s webpage, choose your events, and book seats. It’s all free. And please spread the word.
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/arts/about-us/events/arts-week 

RIN 4: The Art of Quotation and the Miniaturized Gallery. Saturday 6 June 2015, 10 – 5pm, The House of Illustration, London

The Art of Quotation and the Miniaturized Gallery. Saturday 6 June 2015, 10 – 5pm, The House of Illustration, London: Peter Otto (Melbourne), David Worrall (Roehampton/Nottingham Trent), Kate Heard (Royal Collection), Susan Matthews (Roehampton), Bethan Stevens (Sussex). Supported by the University of Roehampton and the Bibliographical Society. Organised with the assistance of House of Illustration.

Registration for this event will soon be open: details will be posted on this blog.

We will also be advertising 3 Bibliographical Society Studentships of £60 each, to assist postgraduate students with attendance. 3 spaces are reserved for the successful candidates; details of how to apply will be advertised here soon.

UnivRoehamptonlogo Bib Soc support logo house-of-illustration-logo-kids-in-the-halls-column-arts-agency