In December 2008, the Research Forum appointed five Research Associates to form a team to examine materials from the Witt Library and related to holdings in the Witt and Conway Libraries. The title of this project was: Record or Representation? Photography and the Artist’s Studio. Exploring the holdings of the Witt and Conway photographic libraries and the Rob Dickins Collection, this project examined the appearance of artists’ studios in paintings and photographs. Areas considered included the documentary value of photographs of studios of nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists (for example Barbara Hepworth and Jacob Epstein) found in the Conway, the conventions of representing the artist in his studio in paintings and photography (as recorded by the holdings of the Witt and Conway), and how artists represent themselves or stage their activities in paintings and photographs (as found in the Witt, Conway, and Dickins collections). This project revealed unexpected aspects of the Courtauld collections and produced new interpretations of the Dickins Collection, which is a major body of material relating to Victorian artists and their milieu. Giles Waterfield (who was preparing an exhibition at Compton Verney on the subject of artists’ studios) and Dr. Desna Greenhow (Watts Gallery) took part in the project . The Research Associates worked under the direction of Barbara Thompson and Dr Jane Cunningham. They presented the result of their research at workshops held on 16th March and 22nd June 2009.
The 2008-09 Research Associates were: Claire Brisby (PhD research on nineteenth-century Balkan icon-painters’ perception of western art ); Katie Faulkner (MA The Aesthetic Body: Science, Aestheticism and the Image of the Body in British Art 1860-1900); Joanna Milk (PhD ‘Visio Dei: The Iconography of Contemplative Vision in the Lives of the Saints in Tuscany, 1450-1500’ ); Gregory Salter (MA Modernism in Britain 1890-1970).