Lines of Enquiry


Lines of Enquiry was the theme chosen for this years Masters of Research symposium for John Moore’s University. For anyone who doesn’t know what a symposium is, because I find myself constantly having to explain this to my non-art student friends and family, here is a definition. But anyway, this was a really interesting event organised by my university which took place at Tate Liverpool and had four speakers explain their developing research within their masters degrees.

The Mechanics’ Institute Movement: Industrial Revolution, Art Education and The Working Class

The first paper was presented by Eve Hartley, in which she discussed the relationship between the Mechanics’ Institutes and art and design culture in North West England. The focus on the North West put an interesting slant on the paper because we often focus on art in such a general or globalised manner that sometimes it’s really interesting to hear about something a bit more locas. Especially when it’s an area that I’m gradually learning more and more about (originally being from Scotland) so this only adds to the enjoyment of increasing knowledge. Another thing that I really liked about Eve’s paper was the links she made with the impact of the French Revolution, something which I am rather obsessed with in terms of its history and the effect it has had on the world we now live in.

A Guide To the Uncanny: Exploring The Everyday Strange

This was probably my favourite paper of the day, presented by Sacha Spyrou an illustrator, printmaker and researcher who actually designed the symposium’s cover image which I appropriated for this blog post. In her research Sacha looks into the idea of other realms, our beliefs in them and the objects which represent these beliefs. Her presentation brought in examples a number of different areas which she was researching and most of it centred around Freudian Psychology, something which I enjoyed greatly as psychology is always really interesting, particularly the avant-garde beliefs of Sigmund Freud. As well as this Sacha used a lot of pop-culture references throughout, bringing in her own experiences of “the uncanny” and I think this made the presentation very relatable and engaging.

Capturing a Moment: The Power of The Hidden Narrative in Fashion Illustration and Photography 1970-1990

Next up was Rebecca Adams’ paper which explored the effects of popular culture on fashion illustration over three decades. This was a really interesting look at a form of art which is often-overlooked, that of fashion illustration, and as someone who religiously buys fashion magazines and scours blogs for fashion related posts I can say this presentation was absolutely brilliant. What it really brought to light was the ever-changing nature of fashion illustration and fashion photography which seems to develop much faster than other art forms in contemporary society. I actually read an article a couple of years ago which discussed the fact that fashion is the identifiable art form of our post-modernist society’s timeline in the same way that you can figure out the chronology of the renaissance by examining their sculptures or fresco paintings, and this presentation definitely seemed to suggest a similar idea.

The Disney Effect: The Ethical Conundrum of Global Art Museums

Finally, we had Scott McDonald discussing the relationship between art and commerce in our contemporary art institutions. This was great because he raised a lot of issues that I think about quite regularly on my course, particularly the fact that galleries seem so fixated on providing an “experience” for their visitors rather than just allowing them to simply enjoy and appreciate the art on display. This is exactly what Scott was talking about then referring to “The Disney Effect” and I really liked this metaphor for the consumer driven art market that exists nowadays.

Overall the symposium was a really enjoyable and enlightening experience. It was really great to hear from people who are just a few years ahead of me in their education. It was quite an interesting chance to consider where I might go with my course, especially with each of the speakers researching such unique and compelling subjects.


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