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Discover & Research

Research fellows 2018

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

In 2018 our visiting fellows included Elisa Foster, Sean Lynch and Chloë Théault.

A contact sheet of black and white photo portraits all featuring an older man, the sculptor Henry Moore, in one of his studios

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.

Sean Lynch


Research Fellowship

Loose ends within stories

A story can be told and described so many times; it begins to narrow down to a particular narrative and content. Sean Lynch is interested in loose ends within stories: the footnotes that tend to get lost, and how to mediate their presence. This process considers instances mostly eradicated from popular consciousness that yet exist through a disparate series of objects, events and narratives swaying between the anecdotal and objective-informative.

His recent projects have include a ‘storytelling’ installation at the Venice Biennale using sculpture and video; examining state legislation on amateur archaeology; a retelling of the Irish myth of Sweeney; working with a fast food outlet now on the site of the forgotten first museum of London; cataloguing examples of vandalism and conservatism in modern art; locating remnants of the DeLorean car factory in the Atlantic Ocean; investigating alleged supernatural trees, in danger of destruction from new motorways; and finding illicit stone carvings by Irish workmen in Oxford.

Sean Lynch (b. 1978) is an Irish artist currently living in Brussels. He was educated at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. Alongside representing Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2015, he has held recent solo exhibitions at Groundwork, Cornwall (2018), the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2017), Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver (2016), Rose Art Museum, Boston (2016), Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2016) and Modern Art Oxford (2014), among many others. In 2015-16 he curated group exhibitions at Flat Time House, London, and Lismore Castle Arts, Waterford, and was recently Audain Distinguished Artist-In-Residence at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver.

Chloë Théault

Bourdelle Museum, Paris

Research Fellowship

Henry Moore’s photographs of sculptures: to what extent did photography nourish the three-dimensional practice of Moore’s sculpture?

How and why did Henry Moore use, practice and consider photography? What did photography bring him and how did it influence his sculptural work? Chloë Théault’s research among the photographs’ collection and among Moore’s archives will aim at providing possible answers to these questions. A preliminary inventory of photographs taken by Moore will first help to look at changes in Moore’s photographic practice during the decades. The second step, a classification of the photographs will be used as a starting point to see if Moore was a mere amateur photographer, using photography as a mundane documentary resource, or if he tried to develop a more artistic approach of photography. This research will therefore shed light on the way Moore considered photography and how this two-dimensional art interacted with his practice of sculpture.

Dr Chloë Théault was previously curator of Historic monuments for the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, France. She is now curator at the Bourdelle Museum, Paris, where she is in charge of the photograph and sculpture departments. She completed a PhD in Art History at the University of Paris VIII in 2004 with a thesis dealing with the writing of art history of the Thirties in France and Great Britain, in which she especially examined the history of the Hampstead circle. She recently organized an exhibition about how and why Bourdelle used and practiced photography (Of Sound and Fury: Bourdelle Sculptor and Photographer, Montauban / Paris). Her current research deals with the use of photography by sculptors and the interactions between these two arts.

Previous Research Fellows

Find out more about previous research fellows and their projects.