We’ve collected together a few student profiles to give you an idea of the research undertaken by our current PhDs …..
Previous Institutions: BA History of Art, The University of York (2005-2008); MA Art History and Visual Studies, The University of Manchester (2008-2009); PhD Art History and Visual Studies, The University of Manchester (2009-2012)
Thesis Title: A pilgrim’s treasure: The Byzantine reliquary box from the Sancta Sanctorum
Supervisor: Dr. Emma Loosley
Description of research: My art historical interests lie in the pilgrimage art that emerged in Palestine during the early Byzantine period. I am fascinated by the descriptive pilgrimage accounts written during this time and also the elaborately decorated shrines which originally surrounded the holy sites of Palestine.
My thesis concentrates on a small, wooden reliquary box which resides in the Museo Sacro of the Vatican Library in Rome. This box contains relics taken from a number of loca sancta within Palestine and also features a panel with a Christological sequence painted upon its surface. The aim of my project is to assign a more definite late-fifth to early-sixth century date for the panel in response to previous theories which range from the sixth to tenth centuries. I also hope to establish that this is the earliest Christological cycle to have survived to the present day.
Name: Suzy Mangion
Previous Institutions: University of Manchester (MA Art History & Visual Studies); King’s College, University of Cambridge (BA English)
Thesis Title: Marvellous Noise & Modest Recording Instruments: Dada, Surrealism & Early Sound Cinema
Supervisor 1: David Butler (Screen Studies)
Supervisor2: David Lomas (AHVS)
Description of research: My research is all about listening to Surrealist film activity of the late twenties and thirties. Previously, the sonic side to Surrealist filmmaking was all-but sidelined in favour of predominantly visual interpretations, yet the first wave of Surrealist filmmaking coincided with the changeover period from silent to sound film. Within a very short space of time, sound film became standard but not yet standardised, and the 1930s became a period of cinematic experiment, excitement and accelerated learning. My hypothesis is that specific audio-visual approaches can be identified as Dada and/or Surrealist in contrast to mainstream uses at the time. I’ve found that as a result of my work, I now spend a lot of time thinking about bad dubbing and the sounds of toilet flushing.
Other interests: I’m an all-round music-maker, basically meaning I sing and play, and write and record, and perform, and contribute to exhibitions, and sometimes dance. I’ve been making records a good while, now as a solo artist (my last album was called “The Other Side of the Mountain”), and also as part of The Winter Journey, amongst other projects. In 2008 I curated an audio-visual event, “Music and Film”, at Star & Shadow Cinema in Newcastle, and got the opportunity to show some fabulous seldom-shown films. I was a GTA last semester for the Screen, Culture and Society module in Drama.
http://www.myspace.com/suzymangion or on Facebook.
Name: Carol Huston
Previous Institutions: University of California, Santa Barbara; Syracuse University
Thesis Title: Undecided (a work in progress! …)
Supervisor 1: Mark Crinson
Supervisor2: David Lomas
Description of research: Researching collaborations between J.G. Ballard and Eduardo Paolozzi
Other interests: Grant writer/fundraiser for Hercules Productions theatre company. Advertising manager for Corridor8 magazine. Graduate teaching assistant in Art History.
Name: Jenna Carine Ashton
Previous Institutions: BA Hons Combined Studies in Literary Studies and Drama, and Art History and Classical Civilisation, University of Manchester (2003-2006);
MA Art History, University of Manchester (2006-2007);
PhD Art History and Visual Studies, (2007 – ongoing pt)
Thesis Title: Rachel Whiteread: Casting and Collecting Childhood
Supervisor 1: Prof. Carol Mavor
Supervisor 2: Prof. Mark Crinson
Description of research:
My thesis argues for a reinterpretation of Rachel Whiteread’s work in relation to theories of the child and childhood. Whiteread’s oeuvre and has, to date, been considered by authors in relation to an emergent minimalism within female artistic practices; the uses of the domestic space within art; the 1980s-1990s ‘yBa phenomenon’ and Saatchi patronage; Freud’s theory of the uncanny; and themes of memory and absence. Only briefly alluded to in monographic writings on the artist, notions of the child and childhood have not been fully considered, despite numerous references to childhood narratives and parental and sibling relations from the artist herself, in relation to the objects chosen for casting or display. The thesis topic is significant to fields of sculpture, installation and collecting, to which I contribute an original argument and reading of the child and childhood in Whiteread’s works.
I argue that casting and collecting are performative acts through which the child and childhood are created and dismantled; preserved and destroyed. With each chapter I consider a different work by Whiteread, teasing out those childhoods which are alluded to in the autobiographical snippets offered by the artist, but which are sometimes withheld or secreted by the works themselves. I consider the tensions posed by so-called ‘childhood memory’ narratives, and the boundaries and limits of reading the so-called autobiographical in art and visual culture.
Notions of repetition and seriality, and Kleinian theories of destruction and reparation are significant to the processes of casting and collecting, and to remembrance. The writings of Melanie Klein (destruction and reparation), Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (queer childhood), Juliet Mitchell (siblings), Sigmund Freud (the double), Susan Stewart (objects), Annette Kuhn (the autobiographic and memory), and James Kincaid (the child and sexuality) are significant to this project. Psychoanalysis opens up a theoretical space for the personal voice not only for the artist (Whiteread), but for the viewer responding to works and reflecting upon the topic of childhood and memory.
In conjunction with my thesis research, Colour/ “Chroma” is an ongoing outreach project which seeks to work with arts and science practitioners to explore the role of colour in sensory experience and sensory impairment – inspired by Derek Jarman’s text Chroma: A Book of Colour – June ’93, and his film Blue (1993).
I am also acting as Researcher in Residence with artsmethods@manchester and the Institute for Cultural Practices on an upcoming project entitled Archive Interventions, exploring the role of archives in teaching and research, and the relationship between new and old technologies.
For many years I have worked with the University’s cultural assets and with the Widening Participation team on developing and delivering workshops and resources for prospective students. I currently teach undergraduates on the Art History and Visual Studies programme, and I consider creative writing and art-making an important aspect of my research practice.
Name: Wendy Ligon Smith
Thesis Title: Historical Fantasies: Fortuny and the Fine Arts
Supervisor 1: Prof. Carol Mavor
Supervisor2: Dr. Cordelia Warr
Description of research: My thesis investigates the clothing, lighting and stage designs of Spanish-Venetian designer Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo through the metaphor of phantasmagoria to understand his layering of past upon present and further, how Fortuny’s phantasmagoric time is like Marcel Proust’s lost time. The first chapter examines how the materiality of Fortuny’s silk dresses and velvet capes utilizes light and shadow, like the magic lantern, to visually revive the past. Using Junichiro Tanizaki’s writing on darkness and shadows, Michel Serres’ illustration of time as a pleated handkerchief, and Walter Benjamin’s examination of fashion and phantasmagoria, the first chapter enunciates the relation, through visual form, of Venetian painting, literary descriptions associating Fortuny with Venice (past and present), and contemporary Japanese designer Issey Miyake.
The second chapter focuses on Fortuny’s studio space, which like Leibniz’s fabric-covered upper room described by Gilles Deleuze in The Fold and Proust’s own cork-lined bedroom-turned-writing space, is a dark room (camera obscura), a laboratory in which to recast images of the outside. Palazzo Fortuny as a studio is a play space for the phantasmagoric manipulation of images of the outside world (past and present) and the fabrication of the imaginary.
The third chapter is a comparison of machines: Fortuny’s secret pleating machine for his Delphos gowns; Miyake’s APOC machine for never-ending clothing production; Roland Barthes’ hypothetical machine that predicts fashion’s future(s); Proust’s memory machine described by Deleuze; Fortuny’s light-testing machines; and early filmmaker Georges Melies whose movie camera is an extension of the magic lantern.
The fourth chapter examines how Fortuny’s dress designs relate to and rely on the motion of the body in modern dance; specifically in Isadora Duncan’s revival dances and Loie Fuller’s hallucinatory fabric twirling and her enclosed, mirrored stage-box.
Marina Warner’s work on phantasmagoria is integral to this thesis which aims to create a visual dialogue of metaphorical expressions in Fortuny’s work through the optics of the magic lantern: to understand Fortuny’s sense of time and vision as phatnasmagoric.
I am interested in the utilisation of theories of time (specifically Walter Benjamin and Michel Serres) and Utopia to examine textiles, fashion/costume history, photography, and literature (particularly Marcel Proust) in Italy, France, and England between 1860 and 1945. I am also interested in modern revivalism of the classical, medieval, and renaissance.
Previous Institutions: I trained in graphic design and illustration and worked in those fields after leaving Uni in 1995. I returned to education in 2005 gaining a BA (hons) in History of Art (First class) and an MA in Art History from University of Manchester.
Thesis Title: “Studio Materials and Mythologies”
Co-Supervisors: Prof. Carol Mavor and Prof. Jackie Stacey (EAS)
Description of research:
I research the role of memory and mourning, desire, fiction, fact and fantasy in representation of artists and artistic practices in paintings, photographs, films, written accounts and the preservation of creative space. While recent work on the studio has done much to reinstate the semiotic link between practice and studio, my research examines the relationship between an increased focus on practice and production (rather than product) in post-1945 art and the increased visibility of the material location of the studio, not least in its museological preservation (a relatively recent but burgeoning phenomenon).
Apart from my research I sleep, eat a lot and walk the dog. And I like watching films.
Name: Aida Foroutan
Previous Institutions: BSc in Industrial Design, Al-Zahra University, Tehran (Industrial Design from the Högskoleverket, Stockholm)
Theatre Studies, University of Manchester
Thesis Title: The Reception of Surrealism in Iran
Supervisor 1: Prof David Lomas
Supervisor 2: Dr Oliver Bast
Supervisor 3: Dr Helen Rees Leahy
Description of research: I am working with an expert on Western Surrealism, Professor David Lomas, with the intention of finding out how Surrealism has been received in Iran. That is to say, I want to know not just how surrealist styles and techniques are used in Iran in modernity and post-modernity, and their importance, but also how far there has been a `proto-Surrealist’ tendency in Persian/Iranian art and literature. I argue that such a ‘proto-Surrealism’ acted, as Surrealist art continues to do so, in Iranian culture, as an important expressive, yet subversive, channel of culture in a society where strong censorship and suppression of the artist and writer prevailed. Yet many contemporary Iranian artists contest that they are not surrealists at all – such is the advanced state of hybridisation that influence from the past is no longer recognised by such practitioners – but my study is intended to show that this is an important inspirational element in contemporary Iranian art.