caroline villers research fellows DOUBLE LECTURE

Professor B D Nandadeva and Dr Jim Harris

Thursday, 27 October 2011

18.00 - 19.30, Research Forum South Room

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professor Aviva Burnstock

Lecture I: Reconstruction, Revolution and… Redecoration? Polychromed Sculpture in London’s Long Reformation

Andrew Bayninge praying; alabaster figure in red, blues, grey
Tomb figure of Andrew Bayninge
, alabaster, 1610; St Olave Hart Street, London. Photo: © Jim Harris, 2010

Speaker(s): Dr Jim Harris (Caroline Villers Research Fellow, The Courtauld Institute of Art)

The survival of polychromed tomb monuments in London’s churches is remarkable, given the serial subjection of their homes to the ravages of reform, revolution and reordering, fire, fashion and war. However, where they have not been destroyed, the extent to which their painted surfaces remain intact is unclear and the question of how much they have been altered and restored is open.

This lecture introduces the Caroline Villers Fellowship research project for 2011-12, which will examine the polychromy of two groups of memorial sculpture, in St Olave Hart Street in the City of London and St Margaret’s, Westminster. By investigating the accrued layers of paint on the monuments it will assess how, if at all, their appearance has been changed since their installation in response to theological and political currents, to physical trauma and to the aesthetic tenor of the times.

Jim Harris came to The Courtauld in 2001, to take a BA after a career as an actor and musician. He has since stayed put and completed an MA (2005) and PhD (2010) before being appointed Andrew W Mellon/Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow for 2011 and Caroline Villers Research Fellow for 2011-12. He has served as a Visiting Lecturer at The Courtauld and has also taught at Birkbeck and King’s colleges. Jim’s thesis on Donatello’s polychromed sculpture included the first technical analysis of the painted and gilded surface of the Entombment relief at the Santo in Padua, enabling its physical history to be documented and compared to written accounts of its appearance. During his tenure as Caroline Villers Research Fellow, this methodology will be applied again to a group of sculptures in St Olave Hart Street and St Margaret’s Westminster in order to determine whether there exists physical evidence of change to set alongside the documentary record of alterations made to church interiors during the English ‘Long Reformation’.

Lecture II: Diversity, Variability, and Shared Culture: Materials and Technological Choices of Non-Traditional Buddhist Temple Painters of Colonial Ceylon (AD 1750-1900)

row of ochre-coloured standing Buddhas praying
Wall painting from Sri-Lankan Buddhist temple. Photo: B.D. Nandadeva

Speaker(s): Professor B D Nandadeva (Caroline Villers Research Fellow, The Courtauld Institute of Art)

The materials and techniques of Buddhist temple paintings from the Southern and the Western maritime region (low-country) of Sri Lanka that remained under the heavy influence of the Dutch and British colonial rule and are thought to have been executed by painters who belonged to the ‘exorcist-astrologer’ caste of the ‘low-country’, a low caste that remained outside the traditional painters’ caste, will be characterized. The project will examine the hypothesis that the low-country non-traditional painters of the ‘exorcist-astrologer’ caste who were ignorant of the traditional Sinhalese painting technology of the ‘up-country’ borrowed painting materials and techniques from the Europeans, and also introduced the materials and techniques that they used in exorcist rituals with which they were familiar.  Samples of paint, priming, and ground layers collected from wall paintings from eighteen temples from the southern and western provinces will be characterized using optical microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray micro analysis.

Professor Nandadeva has a PhD in Art Conservation Research from the University of Delaware, USA, a Graduate Diploma in Rock Art Conservation from the University of Canberra, Australia, an M.Sc. in Architectural Conservation of Monuments and Sites from the University of Moratuva, and a BA (Hons) in Fine Arts from the University of Ceylon, Sri Lanka. He has also conducted an independent study on Greek art and Byzantine the University of Thessaloniki and the British School of Archaeology at Athens for two years. He has published or presented conference papers on a variety of subjects related to Sri Lankan art and culture that include: rock art of a native hunter-gatherer community; a terracotta figurine art; earthen architectural traditions and techniques; Western influence on Buddhist temple paintings; Ola-leaf manuscript cover paintings; the influence of Sri Lanka’s internal war on contemporary art; conservation issues in polychrome paintings on wood.  He is a professor in the Department of Fine Arts of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.

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