McQueens Illuminating Objects Talk and Panel: When Art meets Science

McQueens Illuminating Objects Talk and Panel: When Art meets Science 

The McQueens Illuminating Objects Internship is a multi-disciplinary programme offering postgraduates in fields outside of the history of art the chance to select, research and display a rarely seen work of art from the sculpture and decorative arts collections of The Courtauld Gallery. Through rigorous research into the presentation in the gallery and online, each intern has imprinted his or her own perspective on ‘their’ object. Partner institutions have included King’s CollegeGoldsmiths’ College, Imperial College, Central Saint Martins, Royal College of Art, University College London and the University of Kent, with disciplines ranging from history, theology, anthropology, design and engineering and science communication 

During The Courtauld’s temporary closure, the McQueens Illuminating Objects Internship is being delivered in collaboration with the Science Museum, which is hosting three displays between 2019 and 2021. This afternoon’s event is an opportunity to reflect on the theme of Science and Art, through looking at  the design and communication strategies for two very different Illuminating Objects: a delicate glass bowl made in 18th century Venice and a welded steel sculpture from 1960s Paris. 

Organised by Dr Alexandra Gerstein (The Courtauld) 



Jack Monaghan

Jack Monaghan is a Science Communicator specialising in science-inspired artwork and events. He is currently studying for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College, and previously gained a in BA Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. In 2017 Jack co-founded Pronk Productions, a partnership that combines science, music and storytelling. This year Pronk has been commissioned by the British Science Festival, and Jack has previously worked with the Royal National Theatre, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

Jack was part of the Illuminating Objects Programme from November 2019 to April 2020. During this time he explored a modernist steel sculpture titled Habitation by the French artist César. This object will go on display at The Science Museum in South Kensington when the museum reopens following the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Melisa Lenero

Melisa Lenero is a design engineer and a creative technologist graduated from Global Innovation Design, a collaborative MSc and MA at Imperial College LondonRoyal College of Art, London. Her research oscillates in the intersection of the arts and the sciences while challenging our ongoing relationship with technology. Currently she is working on MakeLabs, a mission-driven company focused on improving health and wellbeing through art-making. She holds a Global Talent visa under the digital technology category.  

Melisa was part of the Illuminating Objects Programme at The Courtauld Gallery in 2018, where she explored the visual nuances of an 18th-century Venetian opalescent glass bowl as revealed under certain lighting conditions, and its analogy to bioluminescent sea creatures.  

 Dr Matthew Thompson

Matthew Thompson has been at the Courtauld Gallery since 2015. He studied Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, receiving his MA in 1991. He subsequently began his own studio practice in East London in addition to working as a technician at The National Gallery, London. Beginning in 2007, Matthew undertook a PhD programme at Kingston University within the Fine Art Department for which he received an AHRC bursary. He also was awarded a Kluge Scholarship to undertake a residency at the Library of Congress, Washington DC in 2008/9. He received his PhD in 2011. 

Matthew has been closely involved in the Illuminating Objects series at the Courtauld Gallery; assisting in the development and realisation of displays, whilst forming a collaborative working relationship with invited student interns. 

Following their talks, the three speakers will be joined by additional panellists for further discussion about the McQueens Illuminated Objects project. 


Coralie Malissard

Alonside her work at The Courtauld Gallery, Coralie Malissard is curating an upcoming exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum. She has previously worked at the Barbican, where she was the Assistant Curator for the exhibition, Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde. During her time there she also contributed to other exhibitions including Basquiat: Boom for Real and Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art. She has also had a number of freelance projects. Coralie is a Cambridge University and a Courtauld Institute alumna. 


Dr Eva Bensasson

Eva Bensasson has more than twenty years’ experience working in higher education and web technologies, both within universities and arts organisations. She comes from a visual arts background and completed her doctorate at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. 

 Dr John Hindmarch

After graduating with a degree in philosophy, John Hindmarch spent nearly ten years as a pop music journalist before studying for an engineering doctorate in 3D Imaging for Cultural Heritage Institutions at UCL, concentrating on public facing applications. As part of his doctorate, John worked on several projects with the Courtauld, producing 3D digitised models of the Institute’s objects for the Illuminating Objects programme and the Court and Craft exhibition.     

He is currently on secondment at Buckingham University developing a new undergraduate degree in Digital Humanities.   

Dr Alexandra Gerstein 

Alexandra Gerstein oversees a wide-ranging collection ranging from Gothic ivories and Islamic metalwork to 18th century silver and late 19th century sculptureShe started the Illuminating Objects Internships in 2012 as a way of connecting The Courtauld to postgraduate researchers in fields outside the history of art.  

Dr Katy Barrett 

Previously Katy Barrett was Curator of Art, pre-1800, at Royal Museums Greenwich, and has held various posts at national and university museums. She has higher degrees in History of Art and History of Science, and is active on social media as @SpoonsonTrays. 

This seminar and all Sculpture and Decorative arts activity at The Courtauld is supported by McQueens Flowers

4:00pm, 21 May 2020

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