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Discover & Research

Research fellows 2021

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

In 2021 our visiting fellows included Elizabeth Johnson, Rebecca Senior, Rebecca Fortnum, Florian Roithmayr, Sarah Casey, Phoebe Cummings, Hannah Dargavel-Leafe and Jonathan Vernon.

Elizabeth Johnson

University College London

Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
2019-21

The Figure of the Monument in Contemporary Art

Elizabeth Johnson is Henry Moore Foundation Post-doctoral Research Fellow at University College London, where she is researching the figure of the monument in contemporary art. Her research interests include sculpture, monuments, art and technology and digital technology.

In 2018 she held a research fellowship in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. In 2017 she successfully defended her doctoral thesis, What do you call a sculptor who doesn’t make sculptures? Bruce Nauman, 1965-1974, at the London Consortium, Birkbeck College.

Rebecca Senior

University of Nottingham

Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
2019-21

Allegories of Violence: Histories of the British Empire and Monumental Sculpture

Rebecca Senior is an art historian specialising in sculpture and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century visual cultures in Britain. She has a particular interest in allegory, monuments and histories of British imperialism, which is the subject of her research at the Institute.

Working in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, her post-doctoral project is titled ‘Allegories of Violence: Histories of the British Empire and Monumental Sculpture’. It explores the various manifestations of allegorical sculpture on monuments erected in honour of Britain’s imperial campaigns in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with a specific focus on how allegory occupied a unique space as a sanitiser of violence in visual histories.

In her role as an Impact Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, she developed evidence collection methods and research strategies across the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies ahead of REF 2021 that drew on her previous experience working on contemporary art publications and organising public engagement events.

Rebecca Fortnum

Glasgow School of Art

Senior Research Fellowship
2021

Sculptural Re-Membering

Rebecca Fortnum’s recent project, A Mind Weighted with Unpublished Matter, explored the politics of the gaze, developing a series of paintings with a relationship to French late nineteenth-century sculpture. In particular, a series called Prosopopoeia (a rhetorical term describing a communication via another person, sometimes seen as a way of animating the dead), developed from photographs she had taken of sculpted heads. The sculptures’ mass is demonstrated, standing the test of time, yet both the artist and subject, have long gone – leaving only a silent, still presence. The paintings partially re-animate these figures, depicting images of women with their eyes averted, downcast, or closed, exploring the trope of ‘absorption’ (Fried, 1976). Fortnum is also interested in sculptural portraiture by women depicting their female peers, or those where the sitter and artists are in a friendship or relationship. Not only can this bring to light obscure[d] histories of women artists, it also allows her to speculate broadly on the ‘intersubjective’ relation that spirals around ‘ocular power’ within portraiture (Rosenthal, 1997).

For her Henry Moore Institute Fellowship, Fortnum will allow look closely at the works of Jules Dalou (1838-1902). His works representing women reading and performing domestic tasks are central to the image of ‘female absorption’ she is exploring, and the Henry Moore Institute’s 2009 exhibition Dalou in England: Portraits of Womanhood (1871-1879) included key sculptures she is working from. She will also be examining a work by Kühne Beveridge (1874?-1930?), The Veiled Venus 1900 from the Leeds City Art Collection, made with her mother, Ella von Wrede. Fortnum is interested in this startling work as a complex model of women’s production and feminist legacy. She will also be exploring the women sculptors in Rodin’s circle and beyond. Fortum is interested in the friendship and portrait exchange between Camille Claudel (1864-1943) and Jessie Lipscomb (1861-1952) and that between actress and sculptor Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) and the painter Louise Abbéma (1853-1927), ‘new woman’, fellow artist and companion.

Professor Rebecca Fortnum is an artist, writer and academic. She has had solo shows at the Freud Museum and the V&A Museum of Childhood as well as group shows, including most recently: Motherline, Flowers East; Sleepy Heads, Blyth Galler; 49.5, 601 Art Space and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. In 2019 she was elected Visiting Research Fellow in Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford University, where she developed her painting project, A Mind Weighted with Unpublished Matter, subsequently published by Slimvolume in 2020, with contributions by Gemma Blackshaw, Melissa Gordon and Richard McCabe. Fortnum has held an Abbey Award at the British School in Rome, individual awards from the Arts Council of England, the British Council and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and has received research funding from the AHRC, KU Leuven as well as a Space for 10 award for mid-career artists. Her book of interviews, Contemporary British Women Artists: In Their Own Words, was published by Bloomsbury in 2007 and On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, which she co-edited with Lizzie Fisher, was published by Black Dog in 2013. She is the Founding Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Painting published by Intellect.  Her most recent book, A Companion to Contemporary Drawing (2020), co-edited with Kelly Chorpening, includes her chapter, ‘A Dirty Double Mirror: Drawing, Autobiography and Feminism’. She has been a Reader in Fine Art at University of the Arts London and Professor of Fine Art at Middlesex University and at the Royal College of Art. In 2021 she was appointed Professor of Fine Art at The Glasgow School of Art where, from June, she will be Head of the School of Fine Art.

Rebecca Fortnum – ‘My research is about what it was like to be a woman artist of that time.’

Rebecca Fortnum is an artist, writer and academic. Her work explores the lives and works of the fin de siècle women sculptors of Paris, who have been associated, to varying degrees, with Auguste Rodin, many of whom were taught by him and some of whom worked for him.

Florian Roithmayr

University of Reading

Senior Research Fellowship
2021

Henry Moore – UNIT ONE 1934 = what happened in between? = Susan Hiller – ‘TRUTH’ AND ‘TRUTH TO MATERIALS’ 2003

Writing in Unit One during the 1930s, Henry Moore ascribed ‘each material (…) its own individual qualities…’, linking form and matter into an equilibrium instead of privileging one over the other. Writing in 2003, Susan Hiller brought the discussion back to anthro, as in anthropology, and insisted on the matter of cultural material, with the emphasis shifting from the binary of form and matter to a resolution of binaries, resolving binaries like me / you.

Taking these two texts as approximate bookends, they span seventy years and a total of 25,654 items contained in the Henry Moore Institute Archive of Sculptors’ Papers, indicating shifting imaginations in what materials or material processes might be. The ambition of this research is to excavate some of these indicators that were initially discrete ephemera within production, and then find ways to activate them as external figures without.

Dr Florian Roithmayr is Associate Professor in Art at the University of Reading and Studio Artist at Wysing Arts Centre.

Sarah Casey

Lancaster University

Research Fellowship
2021

Emergency!: Re-evaluating Sculptural Methods of (Re)presenting the Absent in the Context of Climate Change

The project looks at sculptural devices of inversion for articulating the tension between material absence and presence in the context of dialogues around the Anthropocene and materiality. The starting point is exploring the relationship between mould and stencil and the use of these devices to ‘cast’ ephemeral matter to give form to absence. Its core questions are: what does the material intelligence of sculptural making offer for thinking through loss and change engendered by the global climate emergency? How might this enquiry enrich understanding of the relationship between mould and stencil? The research in Leeds will build on two initial points of reference in the collection: the stencils for Catherine Bertola’s dust installations and Helen Chadwick’s notebooks related to the period of making Piss Flowers 1991.

This enquiry is related to ongoing development of work about domestic artefacts emerging from alpine glaciers as a result of climate change as the ice in which they have been preserved for 50, 500 or 5000 years is melting at unprecedented rates. This rare and valuable archaeology provides important knowledge about the past, however, this insight comes at the cost of environmental change and threatened futures. This situation presents a compelling conceptual framework, focussing not what is lost (the ice) but the object that emerge as a result, an inversion of negative and positive.

Dr Sarah Casey is an artist and Senior Lecturer in Drawing and Installation at Lancaster University, where she is Director of Study for the School of Fine Art. Her research is at the intersection of sculpture and drawing, formally testing the limits of visibility and material presence exploring the relationship between surface and space; conceptually this is motivated by questions of preservation – what is saved for the future, why and for who? This interest has been developed through museum collections and dialogue with researchers outside the arts (e.g. medics, archaeologists, physicists) resulting in solo exhibitions at Kensington Palace, The Bowes Museum, Brantwood, MLC Gallery Toronto. She also writes on art and is co-author of Drawing Investigations: Graphic Relationships with Science, Culture and Environment (Bloomsbury 2020).

Sarah Casey – ‘I make drawings using light, shadow and space.’

In this film, researcher Sarah Casey talks about her practice and how she used the library at the Henry Moore Institute to make her work. She makes sculptural drawings with paper that test the limits of visibility and material existence. Her recent work ‘Emergency!’ was developed in response to her visiting research fellowship.

Phoebe Cummings

University of Westminster

Artist Research Fellowship
2021

Writing Sculpture: Translating the Ephemeral

This fellowship will examine and define the ways artists have recorded sculpture through different modes of writing, as well as developing new texts in relation to Cummings’ own practice where she creates transient works from raw clay. Henry Moore’s letters and correspondence will provide key insights to a specific form of writing and how it has traced sculpture, and the Sculpture Research Library’s artist files and artist books will offer significant perspectives on writing that surrounds more ephemeral forms of sculpture, such as that of Anya Gallaccio and Richard Long, focusing on the artist’s direct voice within archived materials.

The research seeks to move beyond photography and film as the primary form of recording ephemeral sculpture, testing the potential of writing to re-articulate, perform or collect an object or environment that no longer exists. Cummings has a particular interest in how text may combine with other sensory information relating to the atmosphere of sculpture, such as humidity and light, layering traces of an original work that demands active re-imagining in the present rather than fixing the sculpture within the single viewpoint of an image from the past. Notation exists as a form of writing within other fields of performance including dance, music, theatre and even dressage, and methods of sculptural notation will be explored and developed in relation to both artworks and the processes of making.

Phoebe Cummings studied Three-Dimensional Crafts at the University of Brighton, before completing an MA in Ceramics & Glass at the Royal College of Art in 2005. She has undertaken artist-residencies in the UK, USA and Greenland, including six months at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2010. She has exhibited in the UK and internationally including the Museum of Arts & Design, New York; University of Hawai’i Art Gallery, Honolulu; Jerwood Space, London and New Art Centre, Salisbury.  She was awarded a Ceramics Fellowship at Camden Arts Centre (2012/13) and was the inaugural winner of the BBC Woman’s Hour Craft Prize (2017). She is Research Associate at the University of Westminster, Ceramics Research Centre.

Hannah Dargavel-Leafe

Artist Research Fellowship
2021

Time as Method for Making in the Expanded Field of Sculpture

Hannah Dargavel-Leafe will be researching sculptural practices that use multiple methods of making to produce works where the mediums augment and inform one another in an expanded idea of sculpture and its relationship to time, site and landscape. Looking at artist papers by Stephen Cripps, Brian Catling and Roger Ackling, she will explore time as a method of transformation in object- and performance-based works: what happens either side of the ‘event’ and how this is recorded through the sculptural material. This research will feed into a practice in which sculpture is considered as time-based. Time is inherent in sculpture’s relationship to landscape, how materials are used and conceived, and the space in which it is negotiated. Dargavel-Leafe uses sound as both a sculptural material and a method of research to make work about landscapes and sites that shift; edgelands, terrain vagues, sites in a state of flux. She is concerned with the auditory perceptions and visual images created through sound and how this can augment sculptural objects.

Hannah Dargavel-Leafe is an artist based in London. She has exhibited both in the UK and internationally with solo shows at CAVE Gallery in Leeds and The International 3 in Manchester. She has had work published in Ambit magazine and by Compost and Height and her work has been selected for the next DreamsTimeFree publication. She also performs live using turntablism and has had live shows at Whitechapel Gallery, Iklectik and TACO! Gallery. Her sound work has been released on vinyl and cassette through labels in the UK and USA. She is co-curator of the Archway Sound Symposium and has a monthly radio show, Sonic Envelopes, on RTM.FM. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and Manchester School of Art.

Jonathan Vernon

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Research Fellowship
2021

The Brancusi Paradigm and British Sculpture of the 1960s

This research project re-examines sculptural practices in Britain during the 1960s through the lens of the ‘Brancusi paradigm’ – a way of thinking about form, and how sculpture could shape the world, derived from the work of Constantin Brancusi.

Toby Juliff has described the so-called ‘New Generation’ sculpture produced by former students of Anthony Caro at St Martin’s School of Art, London, in the 1960s as an ‘uncomfortable and highly compromised transition point between the 1950s and 1970s’. The New Generation sculptors sought an alternative to the tradition of monumental figure sculpture, typified by the work of Henry Moore, that had dominated British sculpture of the previous decade. Informed by phenomenology, American abstract painting and sculpture and Brancusi’s example, they placed renewed emphasis on the fundamental parameters of the sculptural object: shape, volume, surface and colour. Within a few short years, however, the very concept of the object would be contested by a number of emerging practices, such as conceptualism and performance, and the New Generation was recast as the last flowering of the modernist impulse.

This project revisits the writings, exhibitions and critical reception of the New Generation sculptors, as well as a distinct, broader circle of British sculptors active at this time including Eduardo Paolozzi, William Turnbull and Hubert Dalwood. Its aim is to understand how these sculptors positioned their practice in relation to modernist precedents, and what this can tell us about the meanings and values of their work. Brancusi was the most important precedent of all, not only because of renewed interest in the sculptor following his death in 1957, but because his work had often been interpreted in one of two ways by artists and writers of this period: as a purist exercise staked on formal simplicity, or as a constructive exercise staked on the presence of physical objects in real space. It was no coincidence that these two senses of Brancusi’s work aligned with the characterisation of sculptural practices as principally abstract or constructive by critical discourses of the era.

It is therefore the premise of this project that by understanding the ways in which the Brancusi paradigm was invoked, interpreted and adapted by British sculpture of the 1960s, we may also understand what sculpture at the end of modernism wanted: to redraw and enforce its boundaries, or to open itself onto the world.

Dr Jonathan Vernon is a Leonard A. Lauder Postdoctoral Fellow at the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and an Associate Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, where he attained his PhD in 2019. He also became a fellow of the Terra Foundation for American Art in 2018. From 2014 to 2017 Jonathan was the Ridinghouse Contributing Editor at The Burlington Magazine, and he has written numerous articles, essays and reviews for the Burlington, Art History, The Art Newspaper, Tate, Musée Rodin and others. His research focuses on twentieth-century sculpture, the historiography of modernism and ideology.

Previous Research Fellows

Find out more about previous research fellows and their projects.