Research Projects

Putting the Peripheral Centre Stage:

Performing Modernism in Interbellum Bucharest 1924-1934

2015 - 2019. Doctoral Research. University of St Andrews.

My doctoral research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, investigated the history of applied arts and design in East-Central Europe, highlighting transnational exchanges and, in particular, exploring the impact of modernism on stage design and interior design in Bucharest in the 1920s and 30s. Using the career of artist M.H. Maxy as a conduit, I investigated both the activity of the Academy of Decorative Arts, a privately-funded applied arts initiative, and the trajectory of Yiddish theatre in Bucharest through the endeavours of groups such as the Vilna Troupe or BITS. These endeavours constitute important moments within the international modernist movement, yet they have received little scholarly attention. The materials I gathered during research trips to Romania, Germany, Latvia and the USA helped me to piece together an important segment of avant-garde art and design which has heretofore been presumed lost. My research showed that these interdisciplinary and transnational collaborations resulted not in a weak form of modernism, but in innovative artistic practices.

International Cultural Policies and Initiatives for the Visual Arts Sector

2016. Scottish Contemporary Arts Network (SCAN).

This three-month research project was commissioned by SCAN and supported by the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities. The aim was to delve into cultural policy in Europe and North America and identify best practice examples of policy and government-led initiatives that positively impact the contemporary visual arts sector. Although countries do inevitably opt for a wide variety of policies and practices, some particularly relevant examples emerged from the information gathered in respect of five different policy areas: legislation, artists’ livelihoods, distribution of state funding, cultural mobility and Equalities Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and education. I also delved deeper into the cultural policy of three geographical regions that have a strong reputation in supporting the visual arts: the Nordic region, Germany and Canada. As well as seeking feedback from representatives of the British Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, I interviewed local arts professionals with the aim of assessing the experiences of artists, curators and institutions working within these regions. The results of this research are available here.

Dangerous Crossings: Femininities in Private and Public Spaces

2011-2012. Masters Research. Courtauld Institute of Art.

My masters project focused on two East European women artists: the Romanian Cecilia Cuțescu-Storck and the Ukrainian Sonia Delaunay. Due to their gender, geographical origins and involvement with the decorative arts these artists have often been marginalised by scholarship, despite their long and successful careers. I argued that Cuțescu and Delaunay employed an artistic strategy that was particular to them: instead of rebelling against the domestic sphere, in which they were seen to traditionally belong, they appropriated it and used it as the means to cross into the public space. Their homes – elaborate personal creations – became unofficial showrooms, status symbols and instruments of social change, and artistic success ensued. Cuțescu-Storck received important commissions for monumental murals in private and public buildings and is reputed to have been the first women to hold a professorship at a state school of art in Europe in 1916. Delaunay became a respected member of the Parisian avant-garde and her work in the applied arts brought modern design to the city streets.

After Luini: Technical Analysis in Art History Research

2012. Collaborative Project. Courtauld Institute of Art.

This collaborative project sought to establish the history of a Madonna and Child painting undergoing conservation at the Courtauld Institute. After establishing that the painting was a close copy of Infant Jesus Sleeping by Bernardino Luini from the collection of the Louvre Museum, it was necessary to determine the relationship between these two works and the possible history and provenance of the copy. Working together with a colleague from the Courtauld Institute's conservation department, I conducted research based on the results of technical analysis, consulting sources from the Louvre archives and drawing on advice from the curatorial team at the Prado Museum. 

 

Art and Design Historian, Writer, Curator

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