Sculptural Processes Group

The Sculptural Processes Group (SPG) is an informal study group set up in October 2007 to facilitate exchanges between researchers, curators, conservators, artists and practitioners interested in questions of sculptural practice. The SPG explores, through seminars, artist’s talks and site visits, various aspects of the creative, intellectual and material processes involved in making sculpture from the medieval to the contemporary. Membership is taken from a wide variety of practices and fields and mixes postgraduates with senior figures in their fields. The core group is comprised of a small number of academics, PhD students, curators and conservators with diverse interests from the Courtauld and other universities and museums.

The aims of the SPG are to enable its members to gain a more precise and nuanced understanding of the practical processes of sculpture – both through close examination of works and through discussion with colleagues from diverse backgrounds. We host a wide variety of events including: an Annual Artist’s Talk (past speakers include Alison Wilding, Raphael Hefti and Marc Quinn); a cross-period seminar bringing artists, conservators and art-historians into dialogue on a common theme (such as “plaster”, “patina” and “tools and tooling”); handling sessions; visits to artist’s studios, bronze foundries, art schools, private and public collections, special out-of-hours exhibition visits, and sculpture conservation studios.

In recent years, the SPG has selected a yearly theme around which to organise seminars and visits. In 2018-19, the focus of the Sculptural Processes Group Annual Seminar was Tools and Tooling. The Annual Seminar considered the role of sculptural tools in technical innovation, their status as objects and their relationship to language, with a variety of approaches including a paper by an anthropologist, Dr Geoffrey Gowlland (Cultural History Museum, University of Oslo) on Yixing Zisha Ceramics (China), Professor Katie Scott (Courtauld) on 18th-century Paris and Dr Ann Compton (University of Glasgow) on Victorian Architectural Sculpture. The handling session at the Victoria & Albert Museum, expertly led by Dr Michaela Zöschg, provided a rare opportunity to examine a selection of some of the finest boxwood micro-carvings from their collection. The SPG’s Annual Artist’s Talk for 2019 was delivered by Marc Quinn in conversation with Jo Applin and Pia Gottschaller. Quinn discussed his career, working processes and his most recent project called Our Blood.

The theme for the academic year 2019-20 is Phase Changes: Sculpture in Flux. Through a series of events, visits and discussions we will explore materials and processes that move between liquid and solid states. How have sculptors harnessed such material mutability in their work, and to what ends?

The Annual Seminar will take place at The Courtauld’s Research Forum on 7 February 2020.

The Sculptural Processes Group is convened by: Dr Jo Applin, Reader in the History of Art, Head of History of Art Department; Dr Jessica Barker, Lecturer in Medieval Art; Cathy Corbett, PhD candidate; Maureen Cross, Lecturer, Conservation and Technology; Dr Alexandra Gerstein, Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts; Dr Pia Gottschaller, Senior Lecturer, Conservation and Technology.

Object studying session
Handling session on boxwood at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Sculptural Processes Group is proudly supported by McQueens Flowers Ltd

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