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British Landscapes

This research group is dedicated to British landscape art from the historical to the contemporary. In 2021–22 we will focus our discussions on three main areas:

  • The climate crisis and its relationship with landscape art
  • Access to landscapes and landscape art
  • British landscape art from an international/cross-border perspective

The Landscape Research Group provides a platform to discuss, investigate and share ideas around topical issues, exhibitions, learning and recent research in the field of British landscape art – understood in the broadest sense, from historic to contemporary. We hope to bring landscape art into focus through wider issues in society, enhancing our appreciation of both the art and these challenging themes.

The group welcomes participation from artists, academics, curators, learning and engagement specialists who seek innovative approaches to the study of historic and contemporary landscape art. Through online seminars, informal chats, gallery tours and workshops, the group raises questions that are transferable to the study of British landscape art in general and shine new perspectives on current issues.

The British Landscapes group is convened by Jenny Gaschke (Senior Curator of Paintings, The Victoria and Albert Museum), Helen Record (Assistant Curator, Royal Academy) and Emma Roodhouse (Collections & Learning Curator (Art), Colchester & Ipswich Museums).

Activity in 2021

The Landscape Research Group focussed on three principal research themes over the 2020-21 period, relating to topical and urgent issues in society:

  • Landscape art, mapping and the politics of power
  • The landscape and wellbeing
  • Landscape art and the climate crisis

The group took these themes as the central focus for three online seminar-style events, featuring speakers from a range of professional and social backgrounds all with different perspectives and approaches to the topic. Hearing from curators and academics, artists and educators, each seminar event covered several aspects of the research questions and generated fruitful discussion between speakers and audience. Some examples that demonstrate the range of talks include: an interrogation of the categorisation of knowledge through an artistic fusion of historical maps and medical collections records; the importance of wellbeing and healing at the heart of fine art collections, with a ground-breaking nurse-in-residence position at a gallery; and the use of historic coastal landscape artworks and early photography in charting the changing sea-levels and planning to avoid catastrophic damage to coastal communities around the UK.

The group also held various smaller-scale events such as online tours of exhibitions, exhibition workshops and commission presentation events. These less formal Zoom events were positively received and allowed members to connect with each other and engage with artistic topics outside their usual spheres. A particular highlight was the virtual tour of an exhibition on the Bristol School of landscape artists, Absolutely Bizarre, at the Bordeaux Musée des Beaux-Arts. This Zoom tour not only provided a wonderful insight into a group of artists little known outside the Bristol area, but also allowed international dialogue amidst travel restrictions and the decreasing ease of cross-border collaboration after Brexit. This invigorating partnership motivated the group to keep the international angle on British art as a central theme for research activity in 2022.

Recordings of talks and presentations from the Landscape group’s programme are available here.

Jenny Gaschke, Helen Record and Emma Roodhouse, January 2022

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