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Discover & Research

Research fellows 2016

Each year our fellowship programme enables artists and researchers to develop their work.

In 2016 our visiting fellows included Elisa Foster, Marc Treib, Melissa Appleton, Holly Corfield Carr, Ruth Ezra and Tim Stott.

Elisa Foster

Henry Moore Institute

Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship

Painted Black: Inventing the Black Madonna in Pre-Modern Europe

Elisa Foster is currently researching a publication on the ‘Black Madonna’ in European art from c. 1200-1700 – the term referring to the depiction of the Virgin Mary with dark-coloured skin. Provisionally titled Painted Black: Inventing the Black Madonna in Pre-Modern Europe, her book will be an important contribution to scholarship on both Black Madonnas and questions of pre-modern race and colour.

This book sets out to consider the medieval and early modern contexts of Black Madonna statues through careful examination of the changing functions and visual representations of key examples in Western Europe. Her project considers the multiple interpretations of blackness that co-existed in pre-modern Europe and the responses from various audiences, including clergy, pilgrims and iconoclasts. Many of these sculptures are re-painted or are no longer extant, and Dr Foster’s research provides a methodology for art historians to explore the ephemeral aspects of visual culture linked to these sculptures.

Dr Foster’s research on this subject has been published in Studies in Iconography 37 (2016) and Envisioning Others: Race, Color and the Visual in Iberia and Latin America, ed. Pamela A. Patton, Brill (2015). She is currently co-editing a collection of essays titled Medieval Devotion in Britain and Its Afterlives, forthcoming in 2017. Her research in Yorkshire expands her interest in destroyed objects and iconoclasm, focusing specifically on the shrine of Corpus Christi in York.

Marc Treib

University of California, Berkeley

Senior Research Fellowship

Defining A Sculptured Outdoors: The Landscapes of Isamu Noguchi

With a practice that spanned from objects to landscapes, Isamu Noguchi argued that, at root, sculpture created space; the medium and dimensions were only variants in that basic quest. For Noguchi, no contradiction existed between a work displayed in space, and a space which constituted the work.

Marc Treib plans to pursue the “missing link” between the object-sculpture and the sculptured-space, attempting to determine the relation from object-sculpture, to site-specific sculpture, to sculpture-landscape.

Any classification and understanding of Noguchi’s project will necessarily distinguish the sculpture-landscape from land art, in which category Noguchi landscapes such as the California Scenario do not fit comfortably. Despite their size, power, and appropriateness to their remote sites, much land art nevertheless remains an object removed from the city.

In contrast, Noguchi’s landscapes tended to be urban or suburban and destined for almost daily occupation. These differences in location and purpose make the evaluation of such works problematic, and seeking a structure for linking Noguchi’s sculptures with the inhabited spatial works quite challenging.

Positioning works such as these – and by no means has Noguchi been the only artist to create places and public spaces – is not easy, as their intentions and functions are composite rather than singular. They constitute a distinct category in which the place is entirely of the artist’s own making.

Melissa Appleton

Artist / Lecturer, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford

Research Fellowship

Jeff Nuttall: Quite Suddenly Your Smile is an Architecture

Melissa Appleton works with constructed environments, moving image, performance and sound, investigating how the interaction and alignment of these elements can produce an extended form of sculpture.

Appleton will expand her research into the work of late artist Jeff Nuttall, mining Nuttall’s texts – such as his mimeographed series My Own Mag: a Super-Absorbent Periodical, described in Bomb Culture as a ‘paper exhibition in words, pages, spaces, holes, edges, and images’ – for sculptural qualities.

The research will inform a sculptural environment and publication for a forthcoming exhibition and Appleton will also host a series of reading groups at the Institute, bringing together contemporaries of Nuttall with researchers and artists currently engaged with his work.

Holly Corfield Carr

University of Cambridge

Research Fellowship

Depth of Field: Towards a Sculptural Poetics

Holly Corfield Carr will be conducting research into the writing practices of sculptors working with text in Britain after 1960. Her fellowship will pay particular attention to both the sculptural and poetic outputs of Brian Catling, whose papers are held in the HMI archives, and to the site-specific narratives in the work of Katrina Palmer, whose show The Necropolitan Line opened at the Institute in December 2015.

Proposing a shared idiom between sculptors’ writings and a contemporary turn towards situated poetries, this interdisciplinary project seeks to develop a series of models of attention appropriate for reading a sculptor’s novel or a poet’s sundial.

Ruth Ezra

Harvard University

Research Fellowship

Eliding Sculpture and Plane in German Renaissance Art

Ruth Ezra will use the Henry Moore Institute’s resources to deepen her ongoing study of late-Gothic German sculpture. Her dissertation focusses on how the pre-Reformation relief, caught between two and three dimensions, acted as an expressive medium for the confrontation of old (sculptural) and new (pictorial) approaches to representation.

At the Institute, she will research examples of ‘additive’ relief on Schnitzaltar wings, attending specifically to interactions between projected and illusory architecture. Access to the Leeds Art Gallery will allow her to explore transhistorical connections between the affixed Kleinarchitektur of late-Gothic altarpiece wings and the assemblages of 20th-century British artists such as Nash, Earnshaw, and Thubron.

Tim Stott

Lecturer in Art History and Theory, Dublin School of Creative Arts, Dublin Institute of Technology

Research Fellowship

Play: Imagined and Practiced in British Art Education in the 1960s and 70’s

Tim Stott’s research project at the Henry Moore Institute will study the role assigned to play and games, taking as case studies two Environmental Art courses designed and coordinated by Simon Nicholson.

The first is the Design 12 course at University of California (Davis) from 1966 to 1971, and the second the TAD292 Art and Environment course at Open University from 1976 to 1985. These case studies will be examined to understand correlation with the pedagogical practices of the Basic Design movement, as exemplified by the Basic Course at Leeds College of Art established in 1956.

This inquiry forms part of a larger book project which studies how a constructive, systematic and participatory mode of play came to align with an expanded field of sculptural production in British art of the sixties and seventies. Of particular interest to him is how ludic forms of sculptural practice came to be imagined as an ideal means to engage with an increasingly cybernetic and systems-oriented culture .

Previous Research Fellows

Find out more about previous research fellows and their projects.