During the first year of its existence the Zurbarán Centre has been engaged in major international projects and exhibitions in the UK and across the Atlantic — from the first exhibition in the UK on Jusepe de Ribera at the Dulwich Picture Gallery to the one on Spanish, Italian and Mexican art at the Museo Nacional de San Carlos in Mexico City, and another one on contemporary photography in the same city — and launched an ambitious programme of fellowship and scholarship programmes.
The Zurbarán Centre is a research centre devoted to the study of Spanish and Latin American Art and the disciplinary areas that facilitate their study, comprehension and dissemination. It is the result of a partnership between Durham University and The Auckland Project at Bishop Auckland, and was made possible thanks to a generous donation by Santander Universities. Its name is inspired by the remarkable series of paintings by Francisco de Zurbarán Jacob and his Twelve Sons, housed in Auckland Castle, the seat of the Prince Bishops of Durham since the twelfth century.
A remarkable cluster of collections
The Centre’s twin focus is on County Durham’s remarkable collections in Spanish art dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, on the one hand, and Durham University’s exceptional strengths in Spanish and Latin American studies, on the other. The twin catalysts for this initiative are The Auckland Project’s major arts and heritage-led regeneration project in Bishop Auckland and Durham University’s strategic investment in visual arts and culture, entailing, among others, a collaborative partnership with The Bowes Museum, internationally famous for its Spanish and French collections.
A strategic partnership
The Zurbarán Centre will operate in a symbiotic relationship with the Spanish Gallery (due to open in 2020) in Bishop Auckland, and promotes cutting-edge research, including collaborative and interdisciplinary projects, in areas related to the themes and narratives of the Spanish Gallery. While the Spanish Gallery will be entirely and solely devoted to Spanish art from the Middle Ages to the present time, the remit of the Zurbarán Centre encompasses also the artistic production of Latin America in both its visual and performative variants.
A vibrant research environment
Durham University’s strategic commitment to visual culture was cemented in 2013–14 by the establishment of two chairs in visual culture, situated in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and the Department of History, and the creation of the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures (CVAC). CVAC co-ordinates visual culture research across the University’s three faculties and is home to a new taught MA in Visual Arts and Culture and to the Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre in Visual Culture, established in 2015 with a £1million grant from the Trust.
A truly interdisciplinary team
Durham University has exceptional research strengths in Spanish and Latin American visual arts and cultures. Twenty researchers from a number of different departments, including Anthropology, Geography, History, Modern Languages and Cultures, Music, Theology and Religion, are currently exploring topics from the Middle Ages to modernity and post-modernity, and a range of different visual and performative forms, from the fine arts through to theatre, cinema, music and photography.
A unique opportunity
Scholars working in the Centre are able to avail themselves of a unique collection of original works made accessible to them in dedicated study space in Bishop Auckland — at Roper House, the home of the Zurbarán Centre, and at the Lord Burns Santander Library in the Spanish Gallery. They will also have the unique opportunity of working with curatorial staff on joint research and engagement projects and engaging with international partners of excellent standing through the Zurbarán Fellowship Programme.