Public Lectures

22.11.2016 - Jesse Jones (Artist)

On 22nd November 2016, artist Jesse Jones will give a talk on her recent project and exhibition 'No More Fun and Games'.


Jesse Jones


Jesse Jones is a Dublin based Irish artist. Her practice crosses the media of film, performance and installation. Often working through collaborative structures, she explores how historical instances of communal culture may hold resonance in our current social and political experiences. Her recent project and exhibition, 'No More Fun and Games', at Dublin's Municipal Gallery, the Hugh Lane, established a 'parasite' institutional structure within the museum space. This work explored how the politics of exclusion operates in relation to the role of women in the history and production of the artistic canon. She is interested in how political movements and ideas might be expanded to institutional performative gestures. Jones questions how we may look, not only through the lens of vast historical movements, but also through the incremental shifts in how we inhabit our everyday lives and experiences.

Jones has had extensive exhibitions and projects nationally and internationally, including a current project with Art Angel. She has presented solo exhibitions in Ireland, the UK, Seoul and Los Angeles. She is currently exhibiting work in exhibitions in RMIT Melbourne, and The Swizz institute in New York, with upcoming projects in Singapore. Jones will represent Ireland at the National Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennial in 2017.

All are welcome. For further information contact Dr Kirstie North, History of Art, UCC.
Download the poster here: Jesse Jones poster

28.09.2016 - Roger Benjamin (Sydney)

History of Art cordially invite you to a guest lecture by Professor Roger Benjamin (University of Sydney), on Weds 28 September 2016 at 6.30 pm, in West Wing 9, Main Quadrangle, UCC.

Prof Benjamin will speak on the exhibition ‘Biskra: Visions of an Oasis’ that he has curated in conjunction with Algerian authorities for the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, 23 Sept 2016 - 22 Jan 2017.

Biskra-Roger Benjamin

Anon, Famille pres de Sidi Okba, vers 1911, autochrome lumiere, coll. Serge Kakou, Paris.

Lecture overview: From the time of the seizure of the oasis by the French army in 1844 until today, the once-famous desert tourist town of Biskra has excited a myriad of pictorial representations, from paintings and hand-drawn maps to postcards and stereoscopic photos, to newsreel films and Technicolor romances.  The exhibition has been sparked by responses of European avant-gardists who visited around 1900: André Gide for letters (his The Immoralist), Henri Matisse for art (Blue Nude, Souvenir of Biskra), and Bela Bartok for music (phonographs of Arab song that influenced his later work). For the first time a detailed image of this place of aesthetic revelation, where luxury and squalor jostled, is revealed in the cross-cultural richness of its contested histories, colonial and postcolonial.

Speaker's biography: Roger Benjamin is an Australian art historian who trained at the University of Melbourne and Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia.  He has written widely on French modernist art, the history of French Orientalist painting, and contemporary Aboriginal art.  Benjamin’s early publications include Matisse’s “Notes of a Painter” (Ann Arbor, 1985), and ‘Matisse in Morocco: a Colonizing Esthetic?’ (Art in America, 1990), an early postcolonial critique of modernist art. In 1995 he co-curated a major Matisse retrospective for Australia (Queensland Art Gallery).  His exhibition catalogue Orientalism: Delacroix to Klee (Sydney, 1997) is an influential survey that brings international Orientalism into the 1930s. A decade of research culminated in Orientalist Aesthetics: Art, Colonialism and French North Africa, 1880-1930 (Berkeley, 2003), for which Benjamin received the prestigious Robert Motherwell Book Award in 2004. His Renoir and Algeria (New Haven, 2003) was organised for the Clark Art Institute before travelling to Dallas and Paris. Benjamin’s books on contemporary Australian art include Juan Davila (with Guy Brett, Melbourne 2006) and Icons of the Desert: Early Aboriginal Painting from Papunya (Cornell, 2009). Benjamin has held teaching posts at the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and University of Sydney, where he was Director of the Power Institute, 2003-07. Benjamin took up a fellowship at the Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts in 2012, and between 2013 and 2016 was the grateful recipient of a senior research fellowship from the Australian Research Council.  His project, entitled ‘Orientalism of the Mediterranean Shore: Art and Place from Tunis to Marseille’, has resulted in a first book, Kandinsky and Klee in Tunisia (Berkeley, 2015). In September this year his exhibition ‘Biskra: Visions of an Oasis’ opens at the Arab World Institute in Paris.

Admission is free and all are welcome. For further information contact Dr Mary Healy, History of Art, UCC.

Download the poster here: Roger Benjamin on Biskra

07.04.2016 - Briony Llewellyn (Independent)

The Department of History of Art, University College Cork cordially invite you to an evening Guest Lecture by Briony Llewellyn: An Orientalist case study: Cross-cultural threads in the images of  John Frederick Lewis (1804-1876), Thursday, 7th April 2016 at 6:30pm.

The event will take place at Brookfield Health Science Complex, G10 Lecture Theatre, UCC. Please see attachment below and feel free to share on your social media! Thank you. 

John F Lewis

The Arab Scribe, Cairo, 1852 (detail). John F. Lewis. Watercolour & bodycolour, 47x61cm. Private collection. ©Christie's Images Ltd.


John Frederick Lewis’s vivid and colourful scenes of oriental life were celebrated in his lifetime for the virtuosity of their execution and the perceived authenticity of their portrayal of Islamic society. Modern criticism, in the light of Saidian and post-Saidian discourse, has been less willing to accept his images at face value and his Orientalist subject matter has provoked extensive discussion. At the same time, more carefully considered critical analysis has recognised the multi-faceted complexities of his compositions and he has been acknowledged as one of the most intriguing of all Orientalist artists. In fashioning his images, Lewis referenced a wealth of sources, both visual and textual. They drew on more than a decade of direct experience, first in Istanbul and then Cairo, where he had lived a part Eastern, part Western existence, but they were painted for a British audience imbued with the expectations and preconceptions of their time. This paper will unravel some of the cross-cultural threads that Lewis has skilfully woven together to create his images, noting the strategies he devised to underpin his authority as an interpreter of Eastern culture.  Among the works to be discussed are three of his most successful watercolours: The Hhareem (1850, Cairo),The Arab Scribe - Cairo (1852) and Hhareem Life, Constantinople (1857). An amalgam of many different elements, both Oriental and Occidental, these can be seen as paradigms of the cultural interchange that characterises his work.

Briony Llewellyn is an independent scholar specialising in British artists’ depictions of the Near and Middle East, and has written and lectured extensively on the subject. In 1985-88, she was co-author of the catalogue of the Searight Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She has contributed to numerous catalogues and publications including the exhibitions of Edward Lear, 1985, Amadeo Preziosi, 1985, David Roberts, 1986 and Black Victorians, 2005. In 2008 she was loans consultant for Tate Britain’s exhibition, Lure of the East, and co-curator of an exhibition in the Tennant Room of the Royal Academy dealing with John Frederick Lewis’s early work. She has contributed to volumes of essays including The Poetics and Politics of Place: Ottoman Istanbul and British Orientalism, Istanbul, 2011 and Émile Prisse d’Avennes: Un artiste-antiquaire en Égypte au XIXe siècle, Cairo, 2013, as well as two articles for The Burlington Magazine, 2003 and 2014. She regularly contributes advice and catalogue essays on John Frederick Lewis, David Roberts and others to Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams. She has researched, lectured and published extensively on Roberts and Lewis and is currently co-compiling catalogue raisonnés of their work. She is also engaged in research on a large private collection of European views of Istanbul for a forthcoming publication. 

This is a free event and all are welcome. For further information, contact Dr Mary Healy, History of Art, UCC. 

06.05.2015 - Tamar Garb (UCL)

Tamar Garb (Professor of History of Art, University College London): 'Retrotopia: Secretly I Will Love you More'

The lecture will juxtapose the documentary photography of David Goldblatt, a fanciful video portrait by Andrew Putter, and a novel by the renowned Afrikaans writer Marlene van Niekerk, to imagine a past that never was and a future that is still being dreamt of.

This lecture will take place on Wednesday 6th May, 6-8pm in West Wing 9. All are welcome.

About the Speaker:

Tamar Garb is Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art at UCL. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BA (Art) in 1978, before moving to the UK and completing a PhD at the Courtauld Institute, which was awarded in 1991. She was appointed as Lecturer at UCL in 1989, and was promoted to professor in 2001. Her research interests have focused on questions of gender and sexuality, the woman artist and the body in nineteenth and early twentieth century French art ,and she has published extensively in this field. Key publications include Sisters of the Brush: Women’s Artistic Culture in Late Nineteenth Century Paris (Yale University Press, 1994); Bodies of Modernity: Figure and Flesh in Fin de Siecle France, (Thames & Hudson, 1998) and The Painted Face, Portraits of Women in France 1814 -1914 (Yale University Press, 2007).  Her latest publication in this area is The Body in Time: Figures of Femininity in Late Nineteenth-Century France, (University of Washington Press, 2008). She has also published on questions of race and representation and in 1995 she collaborated with Linda Nochlin on a volume of essays entitled The Jew in the Text; Modernity and the Construction of Identity (T&H). Her interests have turned recently to post-apartheid culture and art as well as the history of photographic practices in Southern Africa.  In 2008 she curated an exhibition on Landscape and Language in South African Art entitled Land Marks/Home Lands; Contemporary Art from South Africa at Haunch of Venison Gallery in London. In April 2011, her exhibition Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The show was nominated for a Lucie award in Curating. In 2014 Prof. Garb was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy.

13.11.2014 - Nicholas Alfrey (Nottingham)

Nicholas Alfrey: Land art in Britain: Nancy Holt and Richard Long in the West Country

This talk explores what happens when a radical art practice is conducted in a rural location. The work made by Nancy Holt and Richard Long in the British landscape in the late 1960s and early 1970s may be seen as part of the history of Land art, but Land art in Britain occupies some fairly ambiguous territory. It was presented in the wider context of conceptual art, for example, yet some critics took it to be a continuation of the Romantic tradition. And while new artistic practices such as walking challenged conventional ideas about what a work of art might be, the relationship between walking as art and walking as a recreational activity was not altogether clear cut. The work by Holt and Long considered here enables us to compare the approach to the West Country landscape by a visitor and an insider, and perhaps to unsettle some of the usual distinctions made between American and British land artists.

Nicholas Alfrey is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Nottingham. Professor Alfrey's research is focused upon the visual culture of landscape since 1800, and he was the curator of the 2004 Tate Britain show, Art of the Garden, as well as the recent touring exhibition, Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain, 1966-1979.

This talk will be held in Kane Room G7, UCC, at 6pm on Thursday 13th November.

All are welcome!

02.12.2014 - Alice Maher (Artist)

Alice Maher: My Empire of Dirt

 Alice Maher is one of Ireland’s most celebrated artists, recognized for her experimental use of non-traditional and vernacular materials; her explorations of embodiment and identity, of beauty and repulsion; and her incorporation of a range of literary, folkloric, mythical and art historical material together with various kinds of ‘low’ and frequently despised contents. Her work is held in numerous national and international collections, and she was the subject of a recent retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Alice Maher: Becoming, 2012). Maher is represented by Green on Red Gallery, Dublin.


This talk will held in West Wing 5, UCC, at 6pm on Tuesday 2nd December.


All are welcome!

05.06.2013 - Jody Patterson (Plymouth)

Dr. Jody Patterson (Art and Visual History, Plymouth University) 

'"Operation Crossroads": Artistic Responses to the Nuclear Age'

Following the unleashing of the atom bomb at the end of the Second World War artists responded to the dawn of the Nuclear Age in a variety of ways. While some artists endeavoured to picture the atomic blast and its cataclysmic effects, others felt that literal transcription was no longer adequate and chose instead to evoke the bomb’s destruction and devastation through the use of an abstract visual vocabulary. This lecture will explore a range of artistic engagements with the bomb in the years immediately following the first detonations in 1945. In particular it will examine the work of American painter Ralston Crawford, who was commissioned by Fortune magazine to record his impressions of ‘Operation Crossroads,’ the US government’s highly controversial nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific in the summer of 1946. 

This talk will take place in West Wing 5, UCC, from 6-8 on Wednesday 5 June 2013.

All are welcome!

26.03.2013 - Barnaby Haran (Bristol)

Dr. Barnaby Haran (History of Art, Bristol University) 

'Performing “Red Hashar”: Louis Lozowick’s Representations of the Sovietization of Central Asia in the 1930s'

In 1931 Louis Lozowick travelled with a party of members of the International Union of Revolutionary Writers to Tajikistan, one of the newly formed Central Asian republics of the USSR. Born in Russia but considering himself an American artist, Lozowick was America’s foremost expert of Soviet art, an editor of the leftist magazine New Masses, and one of the leading artists and illustrators working in the style historically termed machine art or Precisionism. In Tajikistan, Lozowick witnessed the ‘sovietization’ of the region, in particular the collectivization of agriculture, whereby the Soviet authorities were attempting to modernize a largely feudal society with a strongly traditional culture. Lozowick produced many drawings of sovietization in action, which he subsequently reworked as lithographs, and wrote several articles about his experiences and impressions of the region. In general, his responses were celebratory and he cited the term “red hasher” to refer to a Soviet update of a longstanding custom of neighborly cooperation- as Lozowick put it ‘a good illustration of the way in which the Soviet system utilizes old customs and institutions by transforming them to meet new needs’.

In this paper I examine Lozowick’s written accounts and pictorial representations of Central Asia in the context of a selective Soviet Grand Tour. For communist ideologues, sovietization would simultaneously modernize and enlighten an apparently backward populace. However, the Basmachi (meaning ‘brigand’, but constituting anti-Soviet forces), who resented the violation of traditional religious and gender mores, especially in relation to the paranja, or veil, worn by Muslim women, fiercely resisted these measures. Lozowick’s images show unveiling as literal enlightenment, and present the liberation of women as analogous to Soviet modernization. I argue that his representations of male Tajiks display profound tensions in the process of sovietization, and are less successful in the attempt to communicate the transition from warrior tribesman to a new proletarian identity. Importantly, as an artist Lozowick himself wrestled with the imposition of proletarianism, as critiques and his subsequent defence of his work in the communist press of the period attest.

Many of these contradictions are discernible in the images themselves, which make an uneasy amalgam of precisionist tropes and more traditional idioms, such as landscape conventions, and do not satisfactorily cohere despite (or indeed because of) the overriding tone of jollity. Was this a faltering performance of “red hashar”, and were the images signifiers of the irreconcilability of sedimentary tradition and imposed modernity, thereby constituting an ideological masking of civil war?

The session will run from 6.10-7.30pm, Tuesday 26 March in West Wing 5, UCC.

All are welcome!

24.10.2012 - Esther Leslie (Birkbeck)

Prof. Esther Leslie (Prof of Political Aesthetics, Birkbeck, University of London) 

'Animation's Petrified Unrest'

This paper considers animation as a form of production-consumption that oscillates between stillness and movement, stasis and agitation, starting and stopping. It is a mode of madeness that, historically, meets a particular understanding of the mechanisms of seeing, as evinced in scientific contexts and in art history. Worked through in the theories of visual perception devised by art historians are notions, such as empathetic projection and kinaesthetic vision, which segue with the new experiences brought into being by optical technologies of leisure. Furthermore, the phrase ‘petrified unrest’ (which stems, via Gottfried Keller, from Walter Benjamin and his description of mid-to late nineteenth-century cultural and critical formations in Baudelaire and Blanqui) is here deployed in relation to early animated culture, such as the optical inventions of Reynaud, and to scientific researchers, such as Marey, in order to suggest that there are social and political overtones to notions of stop-starting. Stop-starting is explored as a type of flow and punctuation, which are figures that come to play a key role in the analytics of labour from Karl Marx to the Gilbreths. To what extent is the labor world of flowing and punctuation, or stopping and starting, taken up or worked through in the animated culture of the early years of twentieth century? In what ways do the developments of the early optical forms set in train the rendering of something like reality? Animation’s petrified unrest is a formal sign of its ambivalent renderings of the real - it is stuck in a form of life and world simulation, which can be read symptomatically - or critically - as an inability to move on socially, to sketch out new lives and worlds.

This lecture will take place in West Wing 5, UCC, at 6pm on Wednesday 24th October.

All are welcome!

15.03.2012 - Ian Hunter (Merzbarn Project)

Ian Hunter (LITTORAL and The Merzbarn Project, UK)

'The Merz Barn and the Legacy of Kurt Schwitters in England'

23.02.2012 - Robert Derr (Ohio)

Robert Derr (Associate Professor of Art, Ohio State University)

'Life is a Performance'

The works of artist Robert Ladislas Derr center on a barrage of questions about life and art. To watch life flow, recognizable patterns and responses are visible. Life captures us in constant performance as we negotiate second by second stimuli. It is this natural corporeal desire to act and react that compels Derr to bust his head through a wall. This physical action from a cathartic impulse produces an art product of activity. Approaching the product, you see either a white wall or his head busting through, and instinctually, you walk around to see the other side, where you find the back of his head thrusting back and forth against the wall. Joining the life flow, Derr adorns a suit with mirrors and video cameras, creating a spectacle, drawing your attention from your routine. You have become the actor in the art product, while the visitor of the product stands immersed in the performance. At the center of four life-size video projections forming a square, the stimuli instigate further actions and reactions. In My Shoes on view February 16 - March 1, 2012, at the Centre for Creative Practices (Dublin, Ireland), has him at the center of an existential dilemma of recalling others' memories as he walks in their shoes. Projected on the floor, the video projection of his perambulation in the shoes seems to stride across the room. These constructions that beseech inquisitiveness, the primal urges, the stimuli that naturally entice, influence his making.

Derr has exhibited and performed worldwide at such venues as the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art (Athens, GA, 2011), The School of Visual Arts (New York, NY, 2011), Schneider Museum of Art (Ashland, OR, 2010), Athens Video Art Festival (Athens, Greece, 2010 and 2007), Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt, Germany, 2009), Jack the Pelican Presents (Brooklyn, NY, 2009 and 2007), Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH, 2008),Independent Museum of Contemporary Art (Limassol, Cyprus, 2008), LIVE Performance Art Biennale (Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2007), Photographic Resource Center (Boston, MA, 2006), American Academy in Rome (Rome, Italy, 2006), Art Interactive (Cambridge, MA, 2006), DiVA Festival (New York, NY, 2005), and Irish Film Institute (Dublin, Ireland, 2004). Awards for his work include the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Ohio Arts Council, among others. Derr has an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and he is an associate professor of art at The Ohio State University.



20.10.2011 - Ailbhe Ní Bhriain (CCAD)

Dr Ailbhe Ní Bhriain (Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork)

'Great Good Places'

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain will give a presentation on her video work, some of the most recent of which is currently on show at Domo Baal, London ( See below for the gallery's information on the exhibition).

The session will be held at UCC in the West Wing, Room 9, on 20 October, 18.15-19.45.

All are welcome!

"Domo Baal is delighted to present Ailbhe Ní Bhriain's second solo show in the gallery. Ailbhe Ní Bhriain will be showing a new series of four videos, collectively called 'Great Good Places'. The work takes the museum and the office as its settings and employs simple collage devices to explore the essential ambiguity of image space. These interventions set up tensions, overlaps and slippages – between surface and depth, place and placelessness, the real and illusory – to create scenes of suspension or displacement. Objects move from being incidental elements to active players in these scenes, negotiating the between–space and lending an unlikely coherence to its contradictions. While readily declaring its constructed–ness, the work also invites the viewer to inhabit its fluid illogic. The series borrows its title from the Henry James short story The Great Good Place – an allusion to the slippage contained within that narrative between dream and reality, and the presence of the hallucinatory in the mundane and vice versa. Drawing on James' story, this work proposes the image itself as a site of refuge and escape – a displaced elsewhere, a state of suspension, a Great Good Place.

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain lives and works in Cork, Ireland, where she is Lecturer in Fine Art at Crawford College of Art. She completed her MA at The Royal College of Art, London in 2004 and her PhD in Fine Art at Kingston University, London in 2008. In 2004 she won the Jerwood Drawing Prize Student Award for her video 'Immergence' and was selected in 2010 for 'Futures 10' at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin. She is a current recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland, Visual Artists Bursary Award, and has held solo shows at the Butler Gallery and the Galway Arts Centre in Ireland. Her work has been widely exhibited in group shows internationally."

05.05.2011 - Briony Fer (UCL)

Prof. Briony Fer (History of Art, University College London)

'Road Testing/Sight Testing: Ruscha's Royal Road'

The lecture will take place in the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, 17.30-19.00 on Thursday 5 May 2011.

All are welcome!

28.04.2011 - Jennifer McMahon (Adelaide)

 Dr. Jennifer McMahon (Department of Philosophy, University of Adelaide)

'The Meta-Ethical Dimension of Art: Eliasson’s Art and Kant’s 'Sensus Communis'

The processes involved in the creation of art and its reception demonstrate the close nexus between moral and aesthetic judgments.  I draw upon the art practice of the contemporary Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and Kant’s concept of Sensus Communis in order to demonstrate that the possibility of art and its reception shares a common source with the possibility of our moral capacity.  In this respect, I will offer a demonstration of certain key concepts from Kant’s “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment”. 

The lecture will take place on Thursday 28 April, 18.00-19.30, in the River Room, Lewis Glucksman Gallery.

All welcome!

09.12.2010 - Catherine Harty (Artist)

Catherine Harty (Artist, Cork)

'Once More With Feeling'

Appropriation is a basic artistic operation and a common social strategy. Artists appropriate when they use images that other artists have used and adapt them to their own interests. Both artists and the wider public appropriate when they take objects, images or practices and use them in a way unintended by the original producers/owners. Appropriation is one of the most basic procedures of contemporary art and life. Here I am going to revisit what can be termed 1980s ‘Appropriation Art’. I will be touching on a number of ideas which were used at the time to both contextualize and critique this work. I will discuss these predominately in relation to two artists, Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince. I will then move on to present some of the ways in which appropriation is used by artists working today, but also by people who would not define themselves as artists. When researching contemporary issues surrounding the re-use of already existing cultural artefacts and images, it became clear that the debate has moved from being one of interest in the art-world and academia to being one of much more general concern.

Image: Catherine Harty, Keith Richards and Louis Vuitton are Proud to Support The Climate Project (2010)

25.02.2010 - Sam Ladkin (Sheffield)

Dr Sam Ladkin (University of Sheffield)

'Figura Serpentinata' in Art and Poetry: A Comparative Reading of Frank O'Hara's 'In Memory of My Feelings'

My current project seeks to revivify a critical terminology derived from the rhetoric of art of the Italian Renaissance, in particular that which surrounds the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti. This terminology illuminates, I hope, the seminal work of Frank O’Hara (1926-1966), a gay poet of the “New York School”, an art critic, curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and a friend to many of the major artists and poets (and composers and dancers...) of the 1940s through the 1960s. The term figura serpentinata, a term attributed to Michelangelo, describes the serpent-like twist in the pose of the (male) body, and is arguably reprised in O’Hara’s seminal 'In Memory of My Feelings'. Or rather, that is what I will argue.

18.11.2009 - Roundtable on Locality

Roundtable on Locality with Stephen Brandes (artist), Maureen Considine (artist), and Dr. Kieran Keohane (Sociology, UCC).

History of Art

Stair na hEalaíona

5 Perrott Avenue, University College Cork, CORK, Republic of Ireland.