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A Place-based History of Art

This Research Group explores the history of art, artistic networks and artists’ legacies from the entry point of ‘place’, focusing on towns, cities and rural locations across the UK. Our group explores how artistic communities in these places have changed across generations and in different socio-political climates.

Artists play an important role in shaping perceptions of ‘place’ in the public imagination in the UK. As the arbiters of creativity, they are often called upon to reimagine or resurface human and environmental histories connected to under-examined urban and rural locales. As the guardians and producers of UK art and culture, it is critical for curators to engage with the nuances and possibilities of ‘place’, to uphold the contributions of artists’ to collective understandings of ‘place’ and to explore the potential of art infrastructures to produce new, generative frameworks for understanding artists’ work through this lens.

Through workshops and discussions with our extended network, the questions we are posing are:

  • How have artists outside of London approached place-based histories and memory as a subject from 1960 to today?
  • How do archives, in both institutional and private contexts, generate cultural narratives, and how do these narratives contribute to notions of ‘Britishness’?
  • How does development and change in land use impact the creation of new work, and how have artists responded to such changes, in both rural and urban contexts?