The Voice of the Artist - The Courtauld Institute of Art

The Voice of the Artist

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Conference, Research Forum

The Voice of the Artist

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

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Peter Blake and Richard Smith, Royal College of Art students circa 1956 (Photographed by Robert Buhler, © Royal College of Art)

  • Saturday 10 December 2016
    PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
    10:00 am - 5:45 pm

    Registration: 09.30

    Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

Keynote by

  • William Boyd - Novelist and screenwriter

For more than twenty-five years, Artists’ Lives has been capturing the lives of artists through their own words. This unique project documents artists’ words, and the recollections of those surrounding them, in the context of their lives. Capturing social history as well as art history, each recording begins with the speaker’s childhood.  Collectively the recordings are an extraordinary tapestry of corroborative and conflicting perspectives on the visual arts in Britain, spanning the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

This one-day conference explores the importance, relevance and complications of the life story approach. In panels dedicated to speaking, listening and interpreting, The Voice of the Artist brings together artists, their interlocutors, experts in creating oral history archives, and users of the rich research material. By paying attention to speaking, listening and hearing, the role of oral history in shaping different approaches to writing the history of art will be discussed and contested.

Artists’ Lives is run by National Life Stories at the British Library in association with Tate. The Henry Moore Foundation, The Henry Moore Institute and the Yale Center for British Art have been closely involved with the project since its inception.

The conference coincides with the exhibition Artists’ Lives: Speaking of the Kasmin Gallery at Tate Britain, November 28 2016 – 2017.

At Tate Britain, on 9 December at 6.30, Sir Nicholas Serota will be in conversation with Kasmin, chaired by Fiona MacCarthy.

Those registering for The Courtauld’s conference on Saturday 10 December are entitled a discounted rate for Friday’s event at Tate Britain (£8 instead of £12). A promotional code will be provided in the email of confirmation which you will receive after your purchase. Enter this promotional code when registering online, on Tate’s website, in order to get your discount.


09.30 – 10.00 REGISTRATION

10.00 Welcome: Alixe Bovey (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

10.00 – 10.20 Rob Perks (Lead Curator of Oral History at the British Library): ‘Life stories, the emergence of oral history and memory as a resource’

10.20 – 10.30 Cathy Courtney (Project Director, Artists’ Lives, National Life Stories at the British Library): ‘Artists’ Lives in the context of National Life Stories’

10.30 – 11.20 KEYNOTE: William Boyd (novelist and screen writer): ‘The Life of Nat Tate: Fiction is Stranger than Truth’ – Chair: Sarah O’Reilly (National Life Stories’ Authors’ Lives)

11.20 – 11.50 TEA / COFFEE BREAK (provided in Seminar room 1, 1st floor)

11.50 – 13.20 National Life Stories Goodison Fellows 2016 – Chair: Andrew Wilson (Senior Curator Modern and Contemporary British Art and Archives, Tate)

Hester Westley: ‘Memories in the Archive: The Uses of Artists’ Lives’

Isabel Sutton: ‘The Private Voice in a Public Space: The Space for Oral History in Twentieth Century Broadcasting’

Michael Bird: ‘Life as Art as Life: A Year of Listening’

13.20 – 14.20 LUNCH (provided for the speakers/chairs only. Seminar room 1, 1st floor)

14.20 – 15.00 Lisa Tickner (Honorary Professor, The Courtauld Institute of Art): ‘Playing it by ear: Kasmin in the 1960s’ – Chair: Hester Westley

15.00 – 16.00 Panel: Using Artists’ Lives: Curators reflect – Chair: Sarah V. Turner (Deputy Director for Research, Paul Melllon Centre, London)

Elena Crippa (Curator, Modern and British Contemporary Art, Tate)
Lisa Le Feuvre (Head of Sculpture Studies, Henry Moore Institute)
Sam McGuire (Assistant Curator, Interpretation, Tate)

16.00 – 16.30 TEA / COFFEE BREAK (provided in Seminar room 1, 1st floor)

16.30 – 17.00 Bruno Wollheim (film-maker), ‘An Impossible Film’ – Chair: Alixe Bovey

17.00 – 17.45 Panel: Artists’ experiences of making recordings for Artists’ Lives – Chair: Jon Wood (Research Curator, Henry Moore Institute)

Richard Wentworth
Paul Huxley

Closing remarks

18.00 RECEPTION (in the Front Hall)

NLS _in partnership with BL_Logo_2016 v2      Tate Logo black        HMI_Partner_Mono


We would like thank the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation for generously supporting this conference.


Conference organised by the National Life Stories at the British Library, Tate, Henry Moore Institute and The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Image caption: Peter Blake and Richard Smith, Royal College of Art students circa 1956 (Photographed by Robert Buhler, © Royal College of Art)

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