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Whitworth Studies

Are you interested in fresh thinking about the visual arts? Whitworth Studies offers a programme of talks, events and performances for a broad public audience. The Whitworth is working with Art History and Visual Studies in the University of Manchester to coordinate the Whitworth Studies programme.

The University of Manchester Department of Art History and Visual Studies and The Whitworth present Whitworth Studies 2017

All events take place at the Whitworth

All events are FREE and open to all

Whitworth Studies aims to encourage and support a wide range of research projects between the Whitworth and Art History and Visual Studies (AHVS), artists, other parts of the University of Manchester, and visiting researchers from other universities.  This research activity will result in exhibitions, conferences, lecture series, events, performances, and research on the Whitworth’s collections.  

Internationally recognised researchers, from the University of Manchester and beyond, will give public lectures and presentations of many kinds, as well as artists talking about their work. 
Whitworth Studies will also encourage experimental encounters with research and experimental forms of presenting research as a signature aspect of its public programme.

The Whitworth Studies programme is designed to appeal to the highly engaged Whitworth public; students with interests in visual culture; researchers at all levels who want to stage or present research on visual culture; and the wider art community of Manchester and the North West.

The Whitworth is working with Art History and Visual Studies in the University of Manchester to coordinate the Whitworth Studies programme.


Sir Nicholas Penny: Raphael’s Rebirth
Thursday 23 March, 5.30pm. Free

The lecture will begin by looking at how Raphael himself was able to absorb ideas found in the art of the distant and the recent past and will then explore how prints altered the nature of artistic memory, explaining how engravings after Raphael’s own paintings and drawings enabled artists from Tintoretto to Picasso to give new life to his inventions. The variety of these responses is the best testimony we have to Raphael’s genius.

Sir Nicholas Penny has held academic posts at the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester, and Oxford, where he was Slade Professor. He is the co-author, with Francis Haskell, of Taste and the Antique (1984), a study of the formation of the canon of classical sculpture. Between 1984 and 1989 Penny was keeper of the department of Western art at the Ashmolean Museum. In 1990 he joined the National Gallery as Clore Curator of Renaissance Painting. In 1991 he identified the Madonna of the Pinks as a genuine Raphael, and not a copy of a lost original as was previously supposed.
In 2002, Penny was appointed Senior Curator of Sculpture at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, before becoming Director of the London National Gallery from 2008 to 2015. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours.


30 March, 5.30pm. Free

Study evening including:
and Dr Charlie F.B. Miller: Mapping Magic in Contemporary Art 

This study evening examines the turn to magic and occultism in twenty-first-century art. Artist, Lucy Stein will discuss the exhibition she co-curated in 2016, NEO-PAGAN BITCH-WITCH!, speaking to her own and other artists’ engagements with the politics and poetics of magic and witchcraft. Dr Charlie F.B. Miller of the University of Manchester will survey the magical turn in contemporary art, locating current trends in a genealogy of modern and postmodern practices.

Lucy Stein is an artist based in St Just, UK. In 2016 she co-curated, with France-Lise McGurn, NEO-PAGAN BITCH-WITCH, at the Evelyn Yard Gallery, London. In 2015 she completed a residency at Tate St Ives, UK, which culminated in a collaborative musical performance titled The Wise Wound. Recent solo exhibitions include On Heat at Galerie der Stadt Schwaz, Schwaz / Tirol, Austria; Moonblood/Bloodmoon at Galerie Gregor Staiger, Zurich, Switzerland; Big Farmer at Piper Keys, London, UK; and Retention (alongside Shana Moulton) at Gimpel Fils, London. Squirming the Worm, a radio show presented by Stein’s alter ego Coco de Moll and produced by artist Simon Bayliss, is broadcast fortnightly on NTS.

Dr Charlie F.B. Miller is Lecturer in Art History and Theory at the University of Manchester. He is the author of numerous essays and articles about the history and theory of the historical and neo-avant-gardes. His book Radical Picasso: History, Theory, Avant-Garde, is forthcoming with University of California Press.


Professor David Lomas: A Language of Flowers: Modern Artists and the Botanical Imaginary
Thursday 4 May, 5.30pm. Free, no need to book

Taking Georges Bataille’s essay The Language of Flowers’ as a point of departure, my talk will investigate relationships between modern and contemporary artists and botany. For Kant, the flower – explicitly leaving aside its reproductive function – was an instance of ideal beauty. Bataille, by contrast, hastens to point out: "even the most beautiful flowers are spoiled in their centres by hairy sexual organs." My project is basically a tale of pistils and stamens. It aims to elicit a non-formal strand of botanical appropriation among artists who have foregrounded questions of gender and sexuality. I argue that post-Linnaean botany is a realm in which an alternative – expanded, polymorphous – conception of the erotic is elaborated that could serve such artists as a resource from which to challenge normative assumptions about gender and sexual relations. The presentation will offer as a case study Helen Chadwick’s Piss Flowers (1993). These ghostly white bronze casts of the urine streams produced in snow by Chadwick and her male partner are at once strangely beautiful, and witnesses to the urethral eroticism that was instrumental to their creation. Inversion is a key formal trope in the production of objects that combine masculine and feminine in a startlingly accurate analogy to pistils and stamens, in a ‘perfect’ – that is, hermaphroditic – flower. Here, the botanical kingdom points the way to a queer ‘beyond’ of human sexual dimorphism.

David Lomas is Professor in the History of Art at the University of Manchester. He is the author of The Haunted Self: Surrealism, Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity (Yale University Press, 2000), and Simulating the Marvellous: Psychology, Surrealism, Postmodernism (University of Manchester Press, 2013).