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A Spanner in the Works

Thursday 22 February, 13:00 – 17:30

Artist interventions in collections and archives.

There is a long history of artists and curators working with museum collections and archives to produce alternative readings. What was once a daring intervention might now seem to be thoroughly assimilated into contemporary curatorial practice.

This half day symposium seeks to gather artists, curators, art historians and other practitioners from across the UK to discuss such counter-hegemonic interventions.

The event has been convened by artist, educator and curator Dr Mark Wilsher, and will feature talks, discussions and performances.

Free entry | Booking Required

Norwich University of the Arts, 20 Bank Plain, NR2 4SF

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Prof Matthew Cornford & Prof John BeckEveryday Disappointments and Embracing the Ordinary


Matthew Cornford and John Beck have searched for ignored and under-represented stories to build up a picture of art education across the decades. This talk will consider the value and limitations of archival digging, which often refuses to yield the illuminating fragment and instead confirms the ordinariness and tedium of the past.

Dr Rosy Gray – Art out of place?


‘Art out of place’ was an exhibition at Norwich Castle in 2005 which brought contemporary art into conversation with the historic collections. This talk considers the creative potentials and risks of staging conversations between different categories of artwork, for different categories of audience.

Maddie Burdon – Reframing Representation: Life Drawing with East London Strippers Collective


Maddie is a writer, performance artist and researcher whose interests focus on the intersections of sex work, queerness, dress and gender. This paper explores counter-hegemonic interventions in art institutions, focusing on the female nude and Life Drawing with East London Strippers Collective.

Dr Miriam Mallalieu – Birds’ Eggs: An Intimate Act of Preservation and Destruction


This reading over photographs and film explores the ethics and motivations of destroying a collection of illegal birds’ eggs. Perth Museum & Art Gallery debated whether they should be destroyed, but the action was denied. This reading offers a reflection on why this action was prohibited, and whether destruction is appropriate in this context.

Darren Neave – Grimsby Reapings


‘Grim and Havelock’, the only piece of public sculpture installed in Grimsby last century, has had a remarkable life in and out of public view. This talk highlights the tug-of-war battles to get it back and how deeply the townsfolk feel about this enigmatic sculpture. Darren will discuss his involvement and responsibility as a gallerist to bring art back into the town and how a ‘sense of place’ can empower people.

Jonathan P. Watts – Deposessing the Archive


Lynda Morris was Curator of Norwich Gallery from 1980–2007, during which time she organised EASTinternational from 1991–2009. Following on from the recent East Gallery exhibition, ‘EASTinternational: Unpacking the Archive’, art critic Jonathan P. Watts will develop a handling account of a collection of printed matter related to EASTinternational, with an emphasis on materiality.

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