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Durham University

Centre for Visual Arts and Culture

Previous Events

List of months

Monday 4 December 2017

Behind the Scenes at the Museum with Dr Gus Casely-Hayford. The Art of Abolition: Telling a Difficult Past in a National Museum

6:00pm to 8:00pm, Kenworthy Hall, St. Mary's College, Dr Gus Casely-Hayford

The lecture is inspired by work Dr Casely-Hayford is currently doing for the National Portrait Gallery in London to develop an exhibition that will tell the story of the abolition of slavery through portraits. When viewed through the aperture of portraiture, the story of the abolition of slavery is a strange, complex, counterintuitive narrative. At its core is the recognition that the status quo needed to be vigorously challenged, of 'the Great and Good' gradually becoming won over to the cause of Abolition in the mid and late 18th century, of the anti-slavery causes gaining popular support, of Bills being repeatedly rejected by the House of Lords, but of an undeniable groundswell of political and popular support building inexorably toward eventual success in the first decades on the 19th century. Yet simultaneously, despite this hard fought and laudable campaign, despite the wide support, it is strangely a time when increasingly intense racist and proto-eugenicist views became widely held and acceptable. Painting is an effective medium for charting this story; portraiture vividly captures the rise of a newly monied slave-trading classes, shows how the influential establishment families invested in and benefited from the trade and then gradually divested as they found their places amongst the abolitionists – but also crucially of how portrait painting played a part in the abolitionist cause, yet was then brutally turned against the victims of the slave trade.

Contact cvac@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.


Tuesday 5 December 2017

Behind the Scenes at the Musuem Masterclass with Dr Gus Casely-Hayford

9:00am to 11:30am, Kenworthy Hall, St. Mary's College, Dr Gus Casely-Hayford

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford is a cultural historian who writes, lectures and broadcasts widely on culture. He has presented two series of The Lost Kingdoms of Africa for the BBC and has worked for every major British TV channel. Over the course of the last year he was awarded a Kings College honorary fellowship for service to the arts, a SOAS Honorary Fellowship, gave a SOAS Centenary lecture, judged the Art Fund’s British museum of the year, advised the Royal Shakespeare Company on their production of Hamlet and joined the Blue Plaque Group. He wrote and presented a six-part TV series on British Landscape Art for Sky Arts, called Tate Britain: Great British Walks, he contributed to a landmark PBS TV series on African history, a Discovery Channel series on World Culture and delivered a Ted Global talk. He is currently expending the majority of his energies in the development of a National Portrait Gallery exhibition that will tell the story of abolition of slavery through 18 and 19th century portraits, is alsoa trustee of the National Trust, a Caine Prize Trustee, sits on the Tate For All Board and is writing a Ladybird expert book on Timbuktu.

To register for a place, please book here.

Contact cvac@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.