RIN members: request for help

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Dear All,

Thank you so much for continuing to be part of the Romantic Illustration Network, and for following the RIN blog.

We are interested in how membership of RIN has impacted upon the work and interests of all our members who are not university academics: artists, illustrators, independent scholars and everyone with a general interest in visual culture and/or illustration etc.

Has a post on this site generated any new ideas for you? Have you visited an exhibition advertised on the blog? Have you been inspired by something you heard about via RIN? We’d love to hear from you!

Drop me a sentence or two at Mary.Shannon@roehampton.ac.uk, and I will make sure future posts contain more of the info that you find useful and exciting.

 

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A Christmas Workshop: RIN/House of Illustration Partnership

Anna Glendenning is a PhD candidate from Roehampton’s Centre for Research in Romanticism, who works on caricature. She reports here on the Romantic Illustration Network’s collaboration with the House of Illustration on a workshop for Y8 pupils, supported by the University of Roehampton.

On Thursday 3rd December, the House of Illustration in King’s Cross London was home to an exciting day of collaboration between local schoolchildren, RIN member Dr. Mary L. Shannon from the University of Roehampton, and professional illustrator Merlin Evans.

A group of thirty girls aged 12-13 (from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington) braved a suitably chilly winter’s morning to visit the House of Illustration, where they immersed themselves in a special workshop on Dickens’s A Christmas Carol .  I also got to help out: it was hugely enjoyable to be part of such an inspiring day of interdisciplinary fun. For the full photostory, see http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/Courses/English-and-Creative-Writing/News/There-s-no-Bah-Humbug-this-Christmas-for-pupils-at-illustration-workshop/.

Dickens’ text has long been a favourite in English classrooms, but it was the aim of this collaboration to give the girls a unique opportunity to explore the crucial role of illustrations – both conceptually and creatively – with two experts.

The HOI’s learning programme, with Head of Education Emily Jost at its helm, is dedicated to bringing illustrations into the limelight. Its core aim is to enhance knowledge of and confidence in visual communication for all. The Romantic Illustration Network (RIN) shares this enthusiasm. RIN’s project to restore the importance of visual culture in the Romantic period involves a commitment to sharing and to promoting access to the research it undertakes.

Mary Shannon, who specializes in Victorian print culture and is a Dickens expert, led a lively session. By contrasting different illustrations of Scrooge with Dickens’s narrative, trying out their own sketches, and learning from Shannon about Victorian Christmas traditions, the girls contributed lots of compelling thoughts and critiques, expanding their understanding of the relationship between illustrations and Dickens’s text.

After taking a look at the House of Illustration’s current exhibition, the girls returned to the studio for a special session with Merlin Evans. Evans brought in tools from her trade and shared some different techniques of collage-making and line work to help the girls to get to grips with the material qualities of producing images. The girls rummaged through photocopies of Victorian illustrations and had the chance to try out the new drawing methods Evans had demonstrated. The results were exquisite. The girls were able to compare their work with the earlier sketches they had made – a great way to show how their understanding of Scrooge’s character had developed over the course of the workshop, and, hopefully, to boost their illustration skills and confidence into the future.

Future collaborative workshops involving RIN’s Professor Ian Haywood (Roehampton) and Dr Susan Matthews (Roehampton) are in the pipeline, so watch this space in the New Year!

Anna Glendenning

Autumn issue of ‘Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly’ now online

“And I only am escaped alone to tell thee”: the autumn issue of Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly is now online.

http://blake.lib.rochester.edu/blakeojs/index.php/blake

Blake Illustrated Quarterly

It is dedicated to two articles on Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job. Mei-Ying Sung describes in detail for the first time the set of pre-publication Job proofs at the Beinecke Library at Yale, and Sibylle Erle talks about Alfred Tennyson’s copy of Job: how and when he acquired it and how he used it.

For past issues, see http://bq.blakearchive.org/

A very Richardsonian experience: New BBC4 series on the origins of the novel, starts 8th October at 9pm

A very Richardsonian experience

By Lynn Shepherd

I’m sure a lot of people will remember the BBC4 series A Very British Murder (currently available again on the iPlayer, incidentally). What you may not know is that BBC Arts has been filming a follow-up, which will start airing in the next couple of weeks. It’s A Very British Romance this time, exploring the origins of the romantic novel, and how our notions of love and marriage have evolved over the last 200 years. To the Beeb’s immense credit, they’re starting their jaunt through romantic fiction with Samuel Richardson. And that, dear reader, is how I found myself in Spitalfields, on a bright cold day in April, talking Pamela, passion, and pictures with Lucy Worsley.

Still

The house we shot the footage in must be one of the most popular film locations in London, judging by the people going in and out. It’s an 18th century house in Princelet Street that’s been stripped back to how it must have looked when it was first built, closets, candles, wainscots and all. I’ve done some filming before, but it’s always fascinating to watch the pros at work, and see how many takes it takes to capture even a few seconds of the finished article.

Making the literary interesting on screen isn’t always easy, but in Richardson’s case, of course, we have the illustrations to Pamela to help bring the text to life. Basing our discussion on prints of Highmore’s ‘novel-in-pictures’ gave Lucy and me the chance talk through the plot and themes of the novel, and then broaden the conversation out to 18th-century attitudes to love and sex, as well as the significance of the prints themselves, as examples of the ‘multi-media event’ that Pamela became.

The series starts on BBC4 on 8th October at 9pm and I think you’d enjoy watching it – I certainly enjoyed being part of making it.

CFP: NeMLA 2016 panel: “Word and Image on Page, Stage, and Screen in the Long Nineteenth Century.”

NeMLA 2016 panel

“Word and Image on Page, Stage, and Screen in the Long Nineteenth Century.”

Chairs Robert Hasenfratz and Kate Holterhoff are asking for abstracts: they welcome projects engaging any aspect of the word-image nexus in illustrated novels, stage productions, or film in Anglo-European or North American culture during the long nineteenth century.

‘The relationship between text and image has an important and suggestive place in the humanities. While in decades past literary scholars have been apt to treat any visual elements accompanying literary texts as supplemental, a growing number of visual and media studies theorists have expressed interest in the important and under-theorized role of paratexts in the form of advertisements, book illustrations, and film and stage adaptations. We have a particular interest in the visual culture of the long nineteenth century. For example, the craze for tableaux vivants, re-creations of famous paintings on stage with living actors, infected both the popular stage, early film, and book illustration in the mid-1890s. The visual culture leading to this moment had itself been conditioned by pre-cinematic arts like magic lantern shows and stereoscopic viewers. We are interested in the complex ways that this visual culture not only supplemented but determined the representational conditions of literary texts, films, and stage productions.’

Abstracts should be submitted by September 30, 2015 through the following link: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/15947

Topographies: London Group of Historical Geographers Autumn Seminar Series

LONDON GROUP OF HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHERS
Seminar Programme, Autumn 2015
TOPOGRAPHIES
Talks in this series may well be of interest to RIN members. Seminars are held on Tuesdays at 5.15pm in the Wolfson Conference Suite (NB01), Institute of Historical Research, North Block, Senate House, University of London.

For further details please visit the LGHG homepage or the seminar listing on the IRH website.

6 October 2015
Stephen Daniels (University of Nottingham)
“’Map-work”: John Britton and the topographical imagination in nineteenth-century Britain.
20 October 2015
Veronica della Dora (Royal Holloway, University of London)
“And he walked from country to country”: Vasilij Grigorovich Barskij’s pious topographies, 1723–1747.
3 November 2015
William Bainbridge (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)
“Mountains run mad”: shared topographies and conflicting memories in the Dolomites.
17 November 2015
Jordan Goodman (UCL)
Making places, knowing lives: Joseph Banks learns Australia, 1770–1810.
1 December 2015Felicity Myrone (British Library)Re-evaluating topography: the case of Captain Thomas Davies’ An east view of the great cataract of Niagara (1762).

Image of the Month: William Blake, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch (c.1800-1803).

Blake Sealing the Stone

William Blake, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch (c.1800-1803). Watercolor, with pen, in gray ink, black ink and graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, wove paper. Yale Center for British Art, Yale Art Gallery Collection, Everett V. Meeks, B.A. 1901 Fund.

In an ‘Image of the Month’ in February, I wrote about Blake’s watercolour Mary Magdalen at the Sepulchre (c.1805). In this post, I’m jumping back a bit to another of Blake’s watercolour illustrations to the Bible, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch (c.1800-03), which depicts a moment slightly earlier in the biblical narrative, and was probably also produced several years earlier (the exact dates of these works are not known, but they have been assigned dates based on stylistic features).

The text illustrated is Matthew 27:66 which describes the sealing of Jesus’ tomb on the day after his death and burial. The chief priests and Pharisees had heard Jesus say that he would rise again on the third day, and they feared that the disciples would try to take away the body to fabricate a resurrection. They therefore asked Pilate to secure the tomb, so he sent a watch and instructed them make the tomb as sure as they could (27:62-65).

In Blake’s illustration, the task is being undertaken very diligently. At the centre of the design is a young man balancing on a ladder, holding a palette of cement and a knife. He is turning to his right, directed by a priest standing below who appears to be pointing out a gap in the cement for the young man to seal. There are two more priests to the left of the ladder, and five soldiers are standing guard.

This is a relatively unusual subject, which is perhaps unsurprising; illustrators of the New Testament have tended to focus on the acts of Jesus and his disciples, not on those of Jesus enemies. We cannot be certain whether the subject was chosen by Blake or by his patron, Thomas Butts; either way, its inclusion in the series of biblical illustrations emphasises that the tomb was firmly shut. Thus, when Blake added The Angels Hovering over the body of Christ in the Sepulchre (c.1805, V&A) to the series, he was giving the viewer privileged access to a scene inside the firmly-sealed tomb, and then in The Angel Rolling Away the Stone from the Sepulchre (c.1805, V&A) and The Resurrection (c.1805, Fogg Art Museum), Blake depicts Christ bursting that seal.

As a stand-alone design the subject may not have obvious appeal, but in a series of illustrations to the narrative of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch plays a key role.

Naomi Billingsley (Manchester)